Fulmer among Baseball America’s top ‘graduating’ prospects

The Detroit News
Michael Fulmer

Tigers right-hander Michael Fulmer burst into the majors, compiling a season that has made him a leading contender for American League Rookie of the Year.

It also placed him firmly among the game’s top “graduating” prospects from 2016, according to Baseball America. Fulmer ranks No. 9 on the list, published Saturday, which ranks the game’s top players who no longer qualify as prospects after surpassing the rookie major-league minimums in innings pitched (50) or at-bats (130).

“Fulmer made the jump to the majors after just three Triple-A starts and quickly became the leading candidate for AL Rookie of the Year,” wrote Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser. “His mid-90s fastball and slider were excellent as predicted— opposing batters hit just .233 and .206 against those two pitches, respectively— but his changeup played much better than expected. That development helped (turn) … him into a front-of-the-rotation stalwart with three strong pitches, including two secondary pitches that miss bats.”

The rankings aren’t based on first-season performances, but on their “updated” Baseball America prospect grade, which “mimics the 20-80 scouting scale and includes a risk assessment.”

Fulmer’s first season, in which he went 11-7 with a 3.06 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 159 innings pitched, bumped up his prospect grade from 55 to 60 with “medium risk,” according to Baseball America.

A “60” translates into a No. 2/No. 3 starter, according to the publication. Medium risk means there is “still some work to do to turn tools into major-league caliber skills, but fairly polished player.”

Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager topped the list with an updated prospect grade of 75 (safe). New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, who is expected to be Fulmer’s chief competition for AL rookie of the year award when it’s announced Nov. 14, ranks No. 4 with a 70 grade (medium).

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