GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Prior to Wednesday's Cactus League contest with the A's, Carson Fulmer had a chance to go over and talk with Oakland ace and fellow Vanderbilt product Sonny Gray.
Fulmer, the White Sox No. 1 prospect, then went out and pitched a little like Gray in Thursday's 9-2 loss to the Royals at Camelback Ranch. The right-hander faced the defending World Series champions for the second time in two Cactus League starts and put into action some of the lessons learned from the more accomplished veteran, allowing one run on two hits over 2 1/3 innings while striking out two.
"He has helped me so much," said Fulmer. "I kind of model my pitching after him a little bit.
"We kind of have the same mechanics and attributes when we pitch. But he's helped me so much with my mentality."
That mentality, according to Fulmer, has to do with quality pitches, possibly even more so than possessing great raw stuff.
"Guys can throw hard. Guys can throw soft. Guys can throw breaking stuff that breaks eight feet," Fulmer said. "But if you don't have an approach and don't place it in the right spot, you're going to get hit.
"Attacking early, getting ahead, obviously it's the job of a pitcher, but also quality pitches in the zone and putting it in the zone where they're going to take swings at it. That's what I'm learning right now, and I feel like I'm getting really comfortable with it each time I go out there. I'll just take the positives from this outing and move forward on to the next."
An at-bat against Eric Hosmer leading off the second, ultimately resulting in a walk, illustrated perfectly what Fulmer was trying to accomplish. He battled Hosmer to a full count, with Hosmer fouling off a couple of changeups, a pitch that Fulmer feels is big for him and he felt good with on Thursday. He then went inside on Hosmer's hands with a fastball but barely missed.
"Great miss, great miss," Fulmer said. "But inside, on his hands, great pitch. He has a good eye for pitches like that and let it go. He's a disciplined hitter and one of the best in the game. Next time I face him, hopefully I have a different mindset going into it. I took a lot from that at-bat."
"He's aggressive. He looks like he'll be a good one," said Royals manager Ned Yost. "He was a first-round pick, so you know he's got good stuff."
While Gray will be starting Opening Day for the A's, Fulmer still has a ways to go to get to that level. But Thursday's effort, coupled with the influence of pitchers such as Gray, Chris Sale, and John Danks, to name a few, have pointed him in the right direction.
"I'm really glad to be around him and spend time with him," said Fulmer of Gray. "You have to keep going at them and hopefully good results come on your end."