School: Vanderbilt; Class: Junior
Position: RHP; B/T: R/R
Height: 6-0; Weight: 195
Previously Drafted: Boston Red Sox, 15th round, 2012
Background: Fresh off his strong performance in the deciding game of the College World Series, Fulmer, the newest ace for Pitcher U. who tossed 5.1-innings on three days’ rest against Virginia to help the Commodores to their first championship, has taken his game to another level so far in 2015, his first full year in the rotation.
Fulmer opened up his collegiate career as a fulltime reliever as a true freshman, posting a solid 51-to-25 strikeout-to-walk ratio while allowing just two homeruns in 52.2 innings of work. The former Red Sox draftee would then open up the 2014 season back in the club’s pen where he would rack up 10 saves before moving into the rotation on April 19, where he would replace struggling southpaw Jared Miller.
And Fulmer responded in a big way: he did not allow a run in his first 28 innings as a starting pitcher. He would finish the year off with 95 punch outs (9.40 K/9), 41 free passes (4.05 BB/9), and one huge start in the championship game.
This year the 6-foot, 195-pound right-hander has been nothing short of dominant. Among all Division I hurlers, Fulmer is tied for third in strikeouts with 107, first in strikeouts-per-nine-innings (12.40 K/9), 26th in ERA (1.74), and 24th in hits-per-nine-innings (6.14 H/9). He’s also managed to earn nine of the Commodores’ 35 victories as well. (Statistics as of May 3rd, 2015).
Projection: Vanderbilt University has certainly churned out plenty of high-caliber big league pitching prospects throughout over the last decade-plus: David Price, Sonny Gray, Mike Minor, Tyler Beede, Jeremy Sowers, Jensen Lewis, Kevin Ziomek, Drew VerHagen, Casey Weathers, and Grayson Garvin.
And the club’s current ace has the potential to slide right up next to Sonny Gray as a potential top-of-the-rotation caliber arm – if he continues to take positive strides with his control/command.
While Fulmer’s walk rates have been trending in the right direction – it’s improved from 4.27 BB/9 to 4.05 BB/9 to a career best 3.59 BB/9 in 2015 – it’s still no better than slightly below average. And another leap forward certainly wouldn’t be unheard of either. Gray averaged 3.79 BB/9 over his final 234.2 collegiate innings. Over his last 168.2 innings, Fulmer’s averaged 3.84 BB/9.
In term of ceiling, Fulmer looks like a potential 3.0- to 3.5-win starting pitcher, though that comes with the risk of not being able to corral his power arsenal. If not, he’s a dominant, shutdown backend reliever with the ability to move quickly.
Ceiling: 3.0- to 3.5-win player
Floor: 1.5- to 2.0-win player
Risk: Moderate to High (starting pitcher); Low to Moderate (reliever)
Grade: First Round, Top 15 selections