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Carson Fulmer: The Top Pitching Prospect in the 2015 MLB Draft

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at this year's draft class, the amount of standout studs is amazing, but not in a good way. There really is no stud MVP caliber player. There does not appear to be a Bryce Harper, or a Stephen Strasburg. There are, on the bright side, quite a few potentially solid big leaguers. Just because there is no uber-caliber prospect, does not mean no one will have a long and successful draft. This leads to my article here because I will be profiling some top prospects. While Fake Teams writer Jason Hunt has already profiled the consensus top two players, he has not done the best pitching, and that is where I swoop in.

While I firmly believe Vanderbilt starting pitcher Carson Fulmer is the best pitcher in his class, others say it is Dillon Tate. The two have a few similarities, but I will only be profiling the former, with the latter waiting until later.

The first thing I like to do in a profile is give a viable comparison. The moment I heard he was a short (by baseball standards, actually a respectable 5' 11") Vanderbilt pitcher, I thought of Sonny Gray. Fuller is also 5' 11" and both had an official weight remarkably close, with Fulmer weighing five pounds short of Sonny Gray's even 200 pounds. The comp holds true as we move to his stuff.

The best pitch for Gray and Fulmer is the fastball, and Fulmer runs it from 93 MPH to 97 MPH. At the time of the draft, Gray could only run it to 94 MPH. With the primary fastball, Fulmer has him beat. That will become a theme soon.

The secondary pitches are both power curveballs, with Gray's being a bit more of a slider than Fulmer's. Once again, Fulmer has the edge. Gray's curve was slightly more being more of a slider than a curveball does have meaning. Curveballs are generally better because they break more, thus moving farther and missing more bats. He receives a well above average to plus grading, giving the 21 year old two potential plus pitches.

The third pitch, however, appears to be a slight draw. Both received average grades (a 50 on the standard 20-80 scale). Both drew praise for their potential to be "effective."

After looking at potential stuff, we have to look at their numbers (for a look at their present ability), and following that up with their makeup (the scout term for "competitive fire," if you will).

First, the numbers. Numbers have no value unless they are compared. Let's take a look at the past year rates of Fulmer versus the league average pitcher. We can even add Sonny Gray to those stats. The only problem is, not enough college stats have been made public over the years, so we can not compare different time periods yet. We therefore must assume that all college years are extremely similar. The way around this would normally be to look at Gray and Fulmer over the three years of pre-draft college stats, although this does not solve the problem. The reason this, too would not work is because Fulmer came out of nowhere this spring, and he was a standout reliever slightly over twelve months ago. Thus, we will just assume that all college years are the same, but recognize that this is somewhat false.

Player

IP

ERA

BB/9

SO/9

SEC 2015

3691.7

4.44

3.70

7.67

Carson Fulmer 2015

107.2

1.92

3.43

12.29

Numbers/League Avg

N/A

0.43

0.93

1.60

Sonny Gray 2011

126

2.43

3.64

9.43

Numbers/League Avg

N/A

0.55

0.98

1.23

The numbers do not lie. Gray was clearly a more experienced starter and thus could go deeper into games. That is why Gray had nearly 20 more innings. A slim margin, and that makes Fulmer all the more impressive. Fulmer had a better ERA by nearly half a point. This is where he separates himself from Gray. Different year or not, this wide of a runs allowed gap means Fulmer is plainly more effective. The strikeout rate also confirms that Fulmer has better stuff. The most impressive stat line, though, is the walk rate. Fulmer, despite being a starter for far less time, had better control than Gray. These stats have to be taken with a grain of salt; after all, they are separated by a few years. Even with the salt, Fulmer once again has the edge.

Lastly, we have to look at the makeup of Fulmer. This is always the strange part because no one really knows how much it will translate. No one but the scouts can "quantify" a prospect's makeup. A bad makeup leads to off the field problems with crime and drugs, and will force teams to vie for a safer packaged prospect. A good makeup leads to leadership and being well-liked and respected. A good makeup adds value that is impossible to see in numbers. It gives a player an edge on the competition. Scouts around baseball have been applauding Fulmer's makeup. They say he has a "fiery edge" to him. This almost always makes a good pitcher a lot better.

In the end, Fulmer is well deserving of a top 10 draft pick. He may even go number two to the Houston Astros. But, we have to get down to his fantasy value. I said he was better than college Sonny Gray, and once he improves his command in the minors, he will be a quick riser, and be up by 2017, possibly even late 2016. He has Sonny Gray upside, with the potential to be a bit better. A SP 2 is in the mix, for sure. It would be foolish to predict his future stat lines, and a prediction of a rise to headlines a la Sonny Gray in the playoffs just would not be fair to him. Worst case scenario, he becomes a late-inning weapon, but I just do not see it. I think he is far to good to be confined to a bullpen and has good enough command to stick.

Follow me on Twitter @AlxBellRingin and ask me any fantasy or draft related questions.