Stephen Guilbert - Is Anyone Following What Michael Fulmer Is Doing?


It's easy to get lost in the shuffle if you're a right-handed pitching prospect in the Mets system. However, if your name is Michael Fulmer, you shouldn't. Not with what he's currently doing.

Here's what he's doing: Hitting 99 MPH regularly with his fastball, not walking anyone, striking out a boatload of guys and manhandling Double-A...the league that most often separates the real talent from the role player or career minor leaguer types.

The Mets drafted Michael Fulmer out of high school in Oklahoma in 2011, the same draft that produced OF prospect Brandon Nimmo. He was a supplemental first round pick (#44) as compensation for the Mets losing Pedro Feliciano to the Yankees (We'll take that, huh?). I remember Fulmer from that draft as being distant third in the hard-throwing Oklahoma trio in that draft along with top-10 selections Dylan Bundy and Archie Bradley. While Bundy and Bradley deservedly got the hype, Fulmer was no slouch, either.

The Mets worked him through the system quickly, showing faith in the tall, stocky, young right-hander. Repetitive knee injuries that nagged at Fulmer held him back the past couple years but now he is healthy, throwing hard and the results are ridiculous:

2015: Binghamton Mets- Michael Fulmer Stats: 57 IP, 18 BB, 48 K, 2.37 ERA, 49H, 1.18 WHIP.

Fulmer also had a rocky start to 2015. In his past five starts spanning the past four weeks, Fulmer has allowed one earned run. Yes, one. He has one win to show for his efforts. His K:BB ratio over those starts is 31:4. Last night, Fulmer went seven innings allowing one unearned run, struck out nine, walked none, allowed just three hits and took the loss. Yes, yes, I would say he's getting a good lesson on what it will be like to be a starting pitcher for the New York Mets.

How Michael Fulmer has achieved this success is just as important as the fact that he is having this success, though, and he's doing it with a big fastball. In his start last week, he touched 99 MPH a handful of times. During last night's game, this was reported from the first inning:

Along with the big fastball, Fulmer also throws a two-seamer with plus-to-plus-plus velocity (go figure), a good slider, a curve he stays away from for arm health reasons and a change that was not all that impressive the last time I saw it. Considering his success, my guess is that the change has come a long way in the past couple seasons.

It is easy to forget about a player like Michael Fulmer but fans shouldn't. This is a first round pick. This is arm strength that only a handful of people on the planet possess. This is near-100 MPH with location. This is the best pitching prospect in the Mets system right now after LHP Steven Matz' promotion. Keep an eye on him. He's healthy and he's eating up the Eastern League.


Mack Ade said...

good to see you posting again

ZachBoyer said...

What do you think happens to him? Trade chip? Bullpen? Replacement for one of the 5 aces being traded? Replacement for Harvey if he bolts for the Yanks? Will he start making prospect lists?

Stephen Guilbert said...

Mack, happy to be back. Sorry I was absent for so long.

Zach, I'll tackle those questions one at a time:

1- Trade chip and bullpen are both legitimate and likely options. I think he's most valuable as a starter (as I do with Rafael Montero) but his stuff would play up in the bullpen. His fastball location, velocity and movement is Familia-esque and his lesser off-speed pitches wouldn't be so much of a concern. I think he stays as a starter, makes a mid-season top 50 prospect list or two and gets traded. If not, bullpen seems like the only way to make this team.

2- If a major starter gets traded for a bat, I think the Mets just go back to a 5-man rotation. After that, Montero gets first crack then probably Verrett. Fulmer is still just in double-A, though he's making a very good case for a promotion in a month or so.

3- I really don't think Harvey goes to the Yankees. He's a cornerstone and the Mets will keep him around.

4- Yes, Fulmer should start making prospect lists. Like I said in the piece, it's not just that he's getting results...it's HOW he's getting results. He's just flat out nasty right now and making opposing batters look silly.


ZachBoyer said...

Good answers. Thank you.

Tom Brennan said...

I wonder if Fulmer's recent surge might be the beginnings of being on par with the big 4 of Jake, Thor, Matt, and Matz? Maybe he quickly surges into the rotation and usurps Zach. Say opening day 2016 for Fulmer, possibly a pen arm in Sept.

Of course, he could be a major chip when Sandy overpays to make a deal.

Mack Ade said...

Ironically, I am writing about Fulmer and Montero on this upcoming Friday's Morning Report. They are easily the two of the next four starter pitching prospects in the system.

Dallas said...

Great article. I think we still don't know what we have in Wheeler who is coming off TJS, remember something like 20% of players never really recover right. Crazy to think we have another stud not that far off and we still dont really know what we have with Montero but he looked pretty good in AAA and hasnt had much work in the bigs yet. If Sandy/Wilpons spent money on decent free agents then we wouldnt have to worry so much about trading our good cost controlled prospects like Fulmer.

ZachBoyer said...

2 of 4? Who are the other two, Mack? Molina? Meisner? Whalen?

The Closer said...

Stephen, great post and I'm excited for how well Michael Fulmet has been pitching lately.

Sorry for being a know-it-all, but Fulmet was compensation for (believe it or not) the Yankees signing Pedro Feliciano, not Jose Reyes.

Compensation for Reyes was actually Kevin Plawecki and Matt Reynolds the prior year.

Otherwise, I think we have our new #1 pitching prospect once Thor and Matz hit their rookie eligibility later this season.

I think I'd like to hold onto Fulmer unless we can get a top bat in return for him, which Sandy hasn't showed he can get. Watching MLB network, it certainly seems like the league is quite impressed by our pitching talent, which is nice to see and Fulmer looks like another top line prospect on his way up.

Maybe Thor for Russell is not out of the question with Fulmer not that far behind to replace Thor in the rotation next year. This also lets us keep Niese in the rotation a little longer to get his trade value back up for the offseason or this time next year.


Stephen Guilbert said...

Ah, you're right about Feliciano. Completely forgot about that. Will go in and edit that portion. Good catch.

I think you trade Niese if you can get value for him now. He's had a couple solid starts in a row and teams like LA cannot continue to run out who they're running out in the back end of their rotation.

I've thought a Thor-Russell swap would be beneficial to both teams but I keep hearing that Thor isn't enough to get it done. I think it is and I think that would be a great trade (have you seen Russell's UZR/150 numbers so far? I need to stop listening to what "experts" say. They said he was too thick and slow to be a plus defender. He's a very good defender and has been since I saw him in high school. I have to start sticking to my guns more often).

Stephen Guilbert said...

Fantastic reporting from our friends over at AstroMets full of GIFs! As they report, his change has become an exciting pitch, much as I expected. That's huge for Fulmer. If he has a legit change, he's 100% a starting prospect with his fastball/slider combo as good as it is already.


The Closer said...

Well I'm obviously biased, but depending upon what the other pieces are for Thor-Russell, it still might be worth it, but if the Cubs want to be contenders, they might want to bring in some front line,cost controlled pitching like Thor.

Maybe guys in Mazzilli, Ynoa, Bowman, Lara, Alvarez, Cessa range will be the throw ins to help that kind of a trade happen since I can see why an everyday player, particularly at SS would be of more value but I still wouldn't want to up much more than that since losing Thor is going to be a tough loss, but one I can understand to get our new Jose Reyes.

Mack Ade said...

Isn't this a better site when Guilbert is active?

Tom Brennan said...

Niese's value rose today. another awful offensive "effort"

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