It feels like our Minor League Mondays coverage this season has focused primarily on pitching. The New York Mets have acquired a lot of talented young arms as part of the vision of General Manager Sandy Alderson, and watching these arms develop is exciting for both the Mets and their fans. A lot of the talented young arms are in the lower levels, and one of the brightest arms in the lower levels belongs to right hander Michael Fulmer. Fulmer, who is only 20 years old, was drafted by the Mets in the 2011 supplemental first round out of high school. Fulmer is currently pitching for the High-A St. Lucie Mets and could find himself on the fast track to the major leagues before long.
Fulmer spent last season as a member of the Savannah Sand Gnats and dominated that level, posting a 2.74 ERA in 21 starts. Fulmer struck out 101 batters in 108 innings pitched, often finding a way to overmatch hitters who were two years older than him. Fulmer was expected to start 2013 with High-A Port St. Lucie, but he got sidetracked after tearing the meniscus in his right knee during spring training. Fulmer underwent knee surgery on March 12th, and the surgery kept him out of action until June. After a pair of rehab appearances, Fulmer finally made his season debut with St. Lucie on July 7th. Fulmer has fared pretty well at St. Lucie, going 2-2 with a 3.44 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 34 innings pitched. Fulmer is currently on the 7-day disabled list with tendonitis in his right bicep, and has not pitched since August 18th.
2013 may be a bit of a lost year for Fulmer, but it is important to remember that he is still only 20 years old. Fulmer already has an electric fastball that sits in the low to mid 90s, and he has touched 97 miles per hour as well. Fulmer's second best pitch is a nasty slider, and he also features a good curveball and an average changeup in his repertoire. The key to Fulmer's development will be how well his secondary pitches develop. Fulmer's fastball/slider combination is strong enough that he could become an effective late inning reliever, but he will need to continue to develop his other offspeed pitches if he hopes to stick as a starter in the major leagues.
Fulmer will likely finish the 2013 season with St. Lucie and has a chance to begin the 2014 season with AA Binghamton. Fulmer does not need to be rushed to the major leagues considering the wealth of pitching the Mets have, but he should be a key part of the next wave of pitchers alongside the likes of Domingo Tapia, Gabriel Ynoa, and Luis Mateo. Fulmer will probably reach the major leagues at some point in the 2015 season, and if he can progress rapidly it could be even sooner.
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