Fulmer, Sale share more than just a fastball

White Sox first-rounder hails from same city in Florida as club's ace lefty

Fulmer, Sale share more than just a fastball

CHICAGO -- Carson Fulmer, your Vanderbilt baseball team just advanced to the College World Series by virtue of a Super Regional victory over the University of Illinois, and you were selected No. 8 by the White Sox in the first round of the MLB Draft. Now what are you going to do for a celebratory encore?

Watch more baseball, of course -- or at least that's what Fulmer did on Monday night with Chris Sale pitching for the White Sox.

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"That's the first thing we wanted to do; we wanted to go see Chris Sale throw live," said Fulmer during a Tuesday morning conference call, adding that he was joined by his two sisters, two brothers and their spouses. "So we … watched until he came out. It was definitely special to be able to spend that time with my family also."

White Sox on first-round pick

Watching Sale can be an educational experience for any young pitcher, regardless of the arm with which he throws or his mound style. Sale attacks the zone, works with great pace and has the ultimate trust in his catcher and defense.

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But there's a direct connection between the right-handed Fulmer and one of the game's top starting pitchers that goes beyond immense talent in that they are both from Lakeland, Fla. Fulmer said that his father knows Sale's father, Allen, and that one of his brothers knows Sale, but he has yet to meet what could be his future White Sox rotation mate.

"Obviously him being from Lakeland, I look up to him a great deal," Fulmer said. "I know they have [Jeff] Samardzija and they have [Carlos] Rodon. It's just a bunch of guys that I watch pitch a lot. I have so much respect for them, and I want to be next to them someday. I've been given this opportunity. I definitely want to run with it."

Fulmer on being selected No. 8

"The day is exciting for them," said Sale after his 14-strikeout effort on Monday, adding with a smile that he knew that Fulmer was from Lakeland. "But it's exciting for us because we know potentially we could get somebody that can make an impact on the club."

Not only an impact on the club, but in the area of self-defense as well. Fulmer stands as one of the final four for the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award, along with Dansby Swanson, his roommate, teammate and the No. 1 overall pick by Arizona on Monday night. But Fulmer also has a black belt in karate, helping him focus on the baseball field.

"I was able to do that from a young age and really stick through it," said Fulmer of his karate training. "Toward the beginning of my high school career, that's when I stopped.

"Being able to stay flexible, stay limber. … Discipline is the biggest thing for me. I took home everything in doing that, but that's definitely the biggest thing I took from it."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.