By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — The winds are blowing from the southeast and bringing the first wave of young White Sox pitching prospects from Triple-A Charlotte to Guaranteed Rate Field.
On Aug. 11, it was 23-year-old right-hander Reynaldo Lopez who made his White Sox debut. On Monday, it was 23-year-old right-hander Carson Fulmer who made his first start in the big leagues. His went far worse than Lopez’s stellar start went.
On a day in which everyone was looking toward the sun for a total eclipse, the sky fell in on Fulmer, who lasted just 1 1/3 innings in allowing six runs, all earned, on four hits and three walks. His night included allowing two monster home runs after retiring the side in order in the first inning on just six pitches in his team’s eventual 10-2 loss to the Twins.
“Baseball can change in a heartbeat,” Fulmer said. “You make one mistake like I did. I left a change-up up in the zone and got hit with three runs from it. I need to get ahead of hitters. I did that in the first inning. The second inning, I didn’t.”
Fulmer was brought up as the 26th man to start the second game of the doubleheader, which the teams split after the White Sox won 7-6 in the opener. Fulmer saw some action in the big leagues in 2016, making eight appearances out of the bullpen and registering an 8.59 ERA. He has been less than impressive at Triple-A this season as well, with a 5.61 ERA.
Nonetheless, the White Sox will continue the ascension of their top pitching talent to the big leagues on Tuesday, when 23-year-old right-hander Lucas Giolito makes his team debut by getting a start. Just like that, the White Sox fan base can start seeing the team’s future rotation. It’s the next and most crucial step of development for these youngsters as the White Sox continue their rebuild.
“This is a glimpse of what is to come,” manager Rick Renteria said. “They are excited. We are excited to finally have them here with us. We can now start to gauge where they are at in their development. We look forward to starting to scratch the surface of what is coming in the future.”
The growing pains that Fulmer experienced Monday are all part of the process. He understands that while also expressing disappointment in his poor night. After the game, Fulmer was optioned back to Triple-A.
“This is all a learning experience,” Fulmer said. “I will never get down on myself. I will be back and definitely have success the next time I get an opportunity.”
Renteria was quick to point out Fulmer, a first-round pick of Chicago in the 2015 amateur draft, will be back with the White Sox. He’s just not sure whether that will be this season or sometime further in the future.
“I don’t know when he will be back,” Renteria said. “I am sure he will be back. He is a part of us.”
One prized White Sox pitching prospect you won’t see in the big leagues in 2017 is 21-year-old fireballing right-hander Michael Kopech, who won his Triple-A debut Monday night in going five innings and allowing two runs in Charlotte’s victory at Norfolk.
“We will take into account all the innings and pitches that they have thrown in the season,” Renteria said about the game plan for promoting the talented pitchers in the minors. “Once they get here, we take that into account. We will not know where we will be at with them until they get here. We have an idea. Certainly, you do not want to waste their bullets. By the same token, you want them to get truly acclimated pitching at the major league level. They need to gain some knowledge and use that toward the following season.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.