BLUF: Needs plenty of developmental time but has a workhorse number three starter ceiling.
The Player: Michael Fulmer (RHP, New York Mets) – Part of a bumper crop of Oklahoma high school pitching prospects in 2011, the Mets popped him in the supplemental first round and signed him for just shy of $1 million. Pitched just 5.1 innings with a 10.12 ERA and ten strikeouts in 2011. Earned a spot in the Savannah (Low-A) rotation in 2012 and posted a 2.74 ERA in 21 starts. Allowed just 92 hits in 108.1 innings with 38 walks and 101 strikeouts.
Basis of Report: Compilation – Industry Contacts
Body (6-3, 200): Physical. Mature body. Could stand to tighten things up with an improved conditioning program. Thick lower half with plenty of power. Broad shoulders and room to add strength. Not a ton of projection but has the makings of a quality frame.
Delivery/Mechanics: Not max effort but close. Lots of arm in the delivery and he needs to use his lower body more to drive down the plane of the mound to the plate. Finish can get wild at times, including a hard fall to first base. Inconsistent arm slot as a result of effort and high reliance on arm to generate velocity. Needs to gain consistency to take the next step.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High – 98, Low – 89, Average 93-94, Grade – 60/60
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 96, Low 89, Average 93-94, Grade – 60/60
Fastball (FB) Movement: Will show solid sink when he keeps his arm slot up. Ball flattens as he dips his arm angle. Below-average overall movement now with chance to be average as more consistency is gained. Grade – 40/50
Overall Fastball: Quality pitch with some deception because of delivery. Ball can jump on hitters, particularly up in the zone. Improved strength in body could lead to increased average velocity, but I don’t see a ton more in the arm. Good, solid pitch that flashes better than plus long term, but doesn’t sit in that range. Mechanical tweaks/improvements could change this projection. Grade – 50/60
Slider (SL): Potential plus offering. Consistency improved throughout first full season. Throws for strikes with regularity and is slowly learning how to get the pitch out of the zone as a chase pitch. At best SL shows tight spin and good depth with more vertical movement than horizontal. Present average pitch most of the time. Plus potential. Grade – 50/60
Change-up (CH): Shows improved feel and makes tweaks nearly every time he pitches. Works diligently to develop the pitch. More of a straight CH that has inconsistent movement. Flashes some sink and fade at various times, neither of which is presently reliable or significant. Still well below average but should continue improving. I don’t see the true feel for the pitch and struggle to see an average offering. Grade – 30/40
Control: Struggles with the strike zone at times, largely because of delivery issues and mechanical inconsistencies. Smoothing out the arm action and softening the finish to his delivery would help a ton. Leap of faith for control projection right now but he has enough aptitude for his craft that I think he’ll get there. Plus control is possible down the line, but shouldn’t be considered a lock. Grade – 40/60
Command: If control projection is a leap of faith, command projection is something more than that. Nothing in current mechanics/delivery suggests command is imminent or even projectable. Conservative analysis now leads toward slightly below-average command projection long term but that could change with an improved delivery. Grade – 30/40
Summation: Very raw with mechanical work required. Has tools to be a quality prospect but too early to put lofty expectations on him. FB is quality pitch that could add more sink with plus velo. Needs to throw more strikes and eventually more quality strikes with FB, being aggressive with the pitch. SL should provide second plus pitch and keep hitters off the FB even if additional velocity is not realized. CH is likely to lag behind other two pitches but could develop into show-me pitch. Command and control profile is difficult to buy into right now, but could come with delivery improvements. Workhorse frame that should improve with more pro strength/conditioning instruction. Number three starter profile.
Relative Risk: High. With mechanical changes necessary, a lot could go wrong along the developmental road.
Future: Proved ready for Low-A in 2012 and should move to the Florida State League in 2013. With the amount of work to be done, he doesn’t project to move quicker than a level at a time and won’t be on the big league radar until 2015.