Cincinnati Reds pitching coach/guru Derek Johnson was long the pitching coach for the formidable program at Vanderbilt University. In fact, his 11 year run with the program ended after the 2012 season when he was hired by the Chicago Cubs, a moved that began his prowess of reshaping pitching staffs across the National League Central.
One of the prized members of his final recruiting class was a Lakeland, Florida RHP with the potential to both spin the heck out of the ball and run it up on the radar gun. That pitcher, Carson Fulmer, would go on to a standout career in Nashville, parlaying that into eventually being selected with the 8th overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft by the Chicago White Sox.
So, when you hear the news that Fulmer - who had been on waivers after being designated for assignment by Pittsburgh - was claimed by the Reds, just know that it’s a move their braintrust has probably thought about for a bit of time. Said move was announced on Sunday by the Reds shortly before their Cactus League game against San Diego.
Obviously, to go from the 8th overall pick by the White Sox to a DFA by the lowly Pirates in 6 years time means Fulmer’s path as a professional hasn’t exactly gone as planned. Stints in both Detroit and Baltimore have been bookended by those moves, too, showing just how many chances he’s had to impress that haven’t gone as hoped. A 6.34 ERA and 6.23 FIP across 105 big league innings will do that, after all, even if there’s all the arm talent in the world buried in there somewhere.
Now 27 years old and out of minor league options, Fulmer’s tale mimics that of many others on the Reds roster at the moment. He and Jeff Hoffman share a lot in common at the moment, for instance, and the two will now be effectively competing against one another for one of the prized spots on the Opening Day pitching staff since both cannot simply be parked in AAA without the waiver process involved. Also like Hoffman, though, is Fulmer’s ability to spin the ball with elite results, something his 2019 Statcast numbers emphasize:
There is precious little time for Fulmer to impress, but surely Kyle Boddy and Johnson are well aware with what they have to begin to mold. Hopefully, it’s the kind of diamond in the rough pickup that can pay off in spades and not merely become another 500 word footnote in this blog’s history, as I legitimately turned away from a cheeky Premier League fixture for a dozen minutes to blog this blog about it.
Welcome to Reds Country again, Carson. Here’s to hitting spots and finding corners.