White Sox not worried after Fulmer's rough debut

White Sox not worried after Fulmer's rough debut

MINNEAPOLIS -- The first career Southern League start for Double-A Birmingham's Carson Fulmer began perfectly Friday.

It was literally perfect, as the top White Sox prospect per MLBPipeline.com retired seven in a row over the first 2 1/3 innings. Then, things went a little off line.

Fulmer walked four of the five hitters he faced with one out, before yielding a grand slam to one-time White Sox Minor Leaguer Brady Shoemaker. The night ended abruptly for the 22-year-old Fulmer, who didn't strike out a Jacksonville hitter, but certainly didn't tarnish what he accomplished during Spring Training.

"He's still in the radar, and we're hoping he does well," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Everybody is on their own pace in what they do. Whether or not he has a rough outing, it doesn't take away from what's he's capable of and what his future holds. He'll develop on his own time, and there's no need to force it and rush it. He'll let you know when he's ready."

"Let's see how he bounces back," White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said. "Bad outings or tough outings don't worry me. He's got good stuff. I saw it. We saw it first-hand. We saw him in the Saturday night game against the Dodgers where he pitched pretty well."

Fulmer on his start, learning

That Dodgers lineup faced by Fulmer for 4 1/3 innings on March 26 at Camelback Ranch was a bit more accomplished than the Jacksonville hitters, as Cooper pointed out. The thing about prospects, especially elite prospects such as Fulmer, is that fans hope and want them to make a big league arrival as soon as possible.

Remember, though, the eighth overall pick in the 2015 Draft has 25 2/3 innings of Minor League experience overall. Fulmer has something special, but his ongoing refining process includes adapting to a new cutter and working on his changeup much like Carlos Rodon before him. There will be bumps in the road during that process, as Rodon experienced through the first half of his rookie White Sox season.

"I knew it with [Chris] Sale, even when everybody was saying he can't be a starter, I knew what we had," Cooper said. "With Rodon, there's more work I think. More work because Saler threw more strikes.

"So, everybody was penciling in Rodon to be a can't-miss, and I'm the pitching coach and saying, 'Wait a minute. There's a whole lot of stuff that has to go into making this happen.' You don't snap your fingers and it's all done. I don't take anything for granted.

"With Carson, he's got the stuff and I think he's got the makeup. So now it's a matter of just refining."

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