The Erie SeaWolves' Michael Fulmer was named the 2015 Eastern League Pitcher of the Year today, winning out over four other finalists. The dominant right-handed starter has a 10-3 record this season with a gaudy 2.16 ERA and 121 strikeouts over 120.2 innings. The award is the latest and greatest in a series of accolades for Fulmer, who has been rocketing up prospect lists as a result of his brilliant 2015 campaign.
Fulmer was the Detroit Tigers' key acquisition in the trade deadline deal that sent Yoenis Cespedes to the New York Mets. Currently ranked the Tigers' fourth best prospect by MLB.com, Fulmer is a good candidate to takeover the top spot in the organization if he continues to have this level of success in 2016.
Fulmer was originally selected by the Mets with the 44th pick in the first round of the 2011 draft. After a superb start to his professional career in 2011-2012, Fulmer struggled with meniscus tears in 2013, and required surgery to remove bone chips from his throwing elbow in August of 2014. Healthy again this season, the big, hard-throwing right-hander took a major step forward, spending most of the season with the Mets' Double-A affiliate in Binghamton. Over 86 innings there, he posted a 1.88 ERA. Since being traded to the Tigers, Fulmer has started 5 games for the Erie SeaWolves, going 4-1 with a 2.60 ERA. In nine of his starts this season he held his opponents scoreless, and allowed more than three runs in a start only twice all year.
Some observers speculated that Fulmer might get a call up to the major leagues in August with the Detroit Tigers' rotation in shambles, but that seems unlikely at this point. Fulmer's mid-nineties fastball, sharp slider and advanced command would probably play better than some of the Tigers' other options, but with the season lost, there's no point in adding Fulmer to the 40-man roster.
After several injury-plagued seasons, Fulmer has been very durable and consistent this year, and the Tigers would be foolish to push him. Instead, he can be expected to start next season in Triple-A, pitching for the Toledo Mud Hens, with the possibility of a call-up to the Tigers later in the season should he carry his dominance into the International League in 2016.