Mets Minor League Profile: Michael Fulmer, RHP, Savannah Sand Gnats – Low A

By Sam Maxwell

The New York Mets have been lauded for the stockpile of pitching arms they are collecting in their system. From Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler to Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia, the top of their Minor Leagues has the potential to produce at least 4 pitchers that could help the big club in 2013. The Mets pitching depth, however, extends much farther than just the top two levels. Down on the Farm in Savannah, GA, is Michael Fulmer, a 19-year-old right-hander from Oklahoma City, OK. The young man has impressed so far this year, using natural talent and a mechanical adjustment to thrust himself onto the fast track.

The Mets and Michael Fulmer intersected in the compensatory round of 2011, when they took the High Schooler with the 44th overall pick, a pick they received when they let Pedro Feliciano go to the Yanks (how’d that work out?) After signing the kid, the Mets assigned him to the Gulf Coast League Mets, where he struggled in only 5.1 innings of work, giving up 6 runs, walking 4 and striking out 10. Still, the Mets saw enough bright spots then and this spring to assign him to the lowest full-season squad at age 19. He struggled some in April, posting a 4.08 ERA in just 17.2 innings of work. Then, according to an interview Toby Hyde of Mets Minor League Blog did with with Savannah manager Luis Rojas, a mechanical adjustment was made to his delivery, which has made him dominant at times against mostly older opponents:

“Before he had a tendency to fly open too early, leading to a late arm and an inconsistent release point which in turn produced fastballs up, and breaking balls that didn’t break. Now, by showing the hitter just a little of his rear end, he forces his body to wait for his arm and can drive towards the plate as a cohesive unit. Also, by improving his direction home – being online better – he can now work to both sides of the plate more effectively.”

Toby Hyde, Mets Minor League Blog

His arsenal includes a plus fastball with a nasty slider he uses to put batters away. The changeup is a work in progress, as it normally is with power arm prospects. Overall, he is averaging 8.2 K’s per 9, which is a 22% of his outs. His walks have been relatively low for a prospect his age, averaging only 3.04 per 9, or 8.2%. Batters are only hitting .213 off him, and 78% of them who make it on base are stranded there. He has not been all that susceptible to the home run, averaging less than half per 9 (0.46). He has a 2.58 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in 97.2 innings of work. His composure with runners on base could use some work (5.05 ERA w/ runners on, 8.20 ERA w/ RISP) but that should come with experience.

What really gets me juiced for Michael Fulmer is this quote from his manager in the same Toby Hyde interview:

“He’s such a coachable pitcher that he’s developing really on the fast track right now. I really have to worship what he’s done, because he’s really absorbed the instructions.”

–Luis Rojas, Mets Minor League Blog

A lot of 19-year-old prospects can be a little hotheaded with some unearned arrogance. Fulmer seems to understand where he needs to improve, and it has led to some solid 1st year peripherals, especially for a teenager.

While the Mets fan has a lot to look forward to from the pitching prospects closer to Major League ready, the new front office has done a great job of improving the overall organizational pitching depth. With arms like Michael Fulmer’s creating buzz at the bottom, Mets fans should have years and years of fantastic pitching to look forward to.

Thanks for reading! You can read Sam Maxwell’s personal Mets Blog here.