CARSON FULMER’S DEBUT

Originally published 7/19/15 on FutureSox.comIMG_7221

***This is the FutureSox debut post for Kim Contreras, our newest writer and AZL correspondent. Look for more from Kim, but for now, she gets to open with the debut of a first round draft pick…

All eyes were on Glendale on Saturday. The professional debut of Carson Fulmer was all the buzz. The White Sox first round pick this past June out of Vanderbilt University arrived in Arizona a week ago and was scheduled to make one start with the AZL team before heading to a full season assignment.

As Fulmer finished his warm-up tosses to battery-mate Seby Zavala, Angels lead-off hitter and rehabbing outfielder from Double A Northwest Arkansas, Chad Hinshaw stepped to the plate.

Fulmer’s first professional pitch was a fastball for a called strike 1. He then proceeded to strike out Hinshaw (swinging) and that set the tone for the game – if not for Fulmer’s career.

The Angels’ number 2 batter, Jahmai Jones singled, but was quickly picked off by Fulmer for out number 2.

Batter number 3 for the inning was rehabbing outfielder from High-A Inland Empire, Brandon Bayardi who flied out to left field to end the inning.

That was it for Fulmer. An impressive debut, on a handful of pitches – which included a few mid-upper 90’s fastballs (94-96), and a few curveballs in the mid 80’s. Even more impressive: 2 of the 3 Angels he faced were rehabbing top prospects. Not a bad day for the 21-year old right-hander.

At one point, Fulmer joined his teammates in the stands, until the end of the 5th inning, as is standard for home teams in the Arizona League. The ease with which he fit in with all teammates, would challenge an onlooker to determine who in that group was the 8th overall draft pick and who wasn’t. Autograph seekers (or, as I call them “Hunters”) knew exactly which one was Carson Fulmer, and to his credit, he was very nice to each and every one of them. Just as he was to any of the fans who, at that point, moved closer behind home plate where they were sheltered from the steady rain.

Dominant debut? Check! Instant fan-favorite? Check! Early morning flight to Winston-Salem? Check!

Biggest takeaway from several insiders who were in attendance, was the ease with which Fulmer seemed to handle the experience. None of us were surprised by how well he pitched. We were all delighted with his poise and control. But, as simple as it sounds, I was most impressed with his pick-off at 1st. The timing, the reason, and the approach, which all led to catching Jones, the Angels number 2 pick in 2015.

As for the rest of the game… it was the 2nd slugfest in as many games for the AZL White Sox. This group of aggressive  hitters attacked the Angels pitching staff, scoring 5 runs in the first inning, and eventually won by a score of 16-8.

With so many runs scored, there were only 2 long balls, and both were the first for each batter. Bradley Strong, 28th round pick from Western Carolina hit his in the 1st, with 2 runners on base, and 18 year old Felix Mercedeswho signed in 2014 from the Dominican Republic, led off the 5th inning with his first home run.

The gluttonous offensive totals included:

16 runs: Tyler Sullivan led the team with 3, rehabbing Jacob May, Seby Zavala, Cody Daily, Bradley Strong, Jake Fincher each scored 2 times.

19 hits: Tyler Sullivan, Seby Zavala, and Cody Daily each with 3
Corey Zangari, Bradley Strong, Felix Mercedes, and Jake Fincher each with 2

8 Doubles: Cody Daily had 2

14 RBIs: Seby Zavala drove in 5
Bradley Strong with 3
Corey Zangari with 2

There were also 2 BBs, 12 Ks, and 2 stolen bases (May and Sullivan)

On the other side of the ball, the White Sox staff gave up 12 hits (Fulmer 1; Solorzano 9; Frebis 1; Cherry 1)… 8 runs, 7 earned – (Yosmer Solorzano 6; Winning pitcher, Johnathan Frebis 1)… Gave up 3 BBs: (Solorzano 2; Frebis 1) and struck out 6 (Fulmer 1; Solorzano 2; Frebis 2; Cherry 1)

Not to be missed in these impressive numbers is the way this team played good, defensive baseball.

The game lasted 3 hours and though there was a steady rain that fell from the 5th inning on, that was all that Mother Nature allowed.

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