MIAMI -- When the Mets selected Michael Fulmer with the 44th overall pick in 2011, Paul DePodesta suggested the right-hander was the third big prep arm in that year’s draft from the state of Oklahoma, along with Dylan Bundy (fourth overall/Orioles) and Archie Bradley (seventh overall/Diamondbacks).
Three years later, the 21-year-old Fulmer is 1-1 with a 6.00 ERA in five starts for Class A St. Lucie this season. The recent results have been encouraging, though.
After allowing 16 runs over his first three starts, Fulmer has produced consecutive scoreless efforts. In 11 innings over those two recent Florida State League starts, he has allowed seven hits and three walks and hit a batter while striking out five.Courtesy of New York Mets
He throws a fastball (92-94 mph), slider, curveball and changeup.
Last year, Fulmer required March 12 surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee and did not appear in a Gulf Coast League game until June 25. He ended up making only nine appearances between the GCL and Savannah before getting shut down with biceps tendinitis after an Aug. 18 appearance.
So this season’s slow start might have been partly attributable to knocking off the rust after limited work a year ago.
“It’s a little bit of that. Most importantly, it’s the things me and [St. Lucie pitching coach] Phil [Regan] have been working on in between starts -- tweaking deliveries here and there,” Fulmer said. “I think I just kind of put everything together at once and these past couple of starts kind of worked out.”
“It’s staying back a little longer on my backside. And then really getting over on top of the ball and keeping my front side strong and keeping it closed,” Fulmer said. “It’s just little things. I think everything is going in the right direction.”
As for 2013, between the meniscus surgery and biceps issue, Fulmer said: “I just never really got going. I tried to come back from the meniscus surgery and it felt fine, felt fine. And then I finally got back and just didn’t feel right basically all year. But it’s a new year. Everything is feeling 110 percent healthy. And I’m excited to get this year going. It was basically just inflammation of the biceps tendon. Nothing too big.”
Early on in his Mets career, fellow Oklahoman Jeremy Hefner took Fulmer under his wing, including going to dinner a couple of times during spring training that year. Both are represented by agent Jay Franklin.
As for three years ago, Fulmer ended up meeting the big-league club shortly after the draft, because the Mets were playing an interleague series against the Texas Rangers in Arlington.
“I remember being speechless when I met Jose Reyes,” Fulmer said. “You follow baseball, the entire MLB, and you know who guys are. I was just 18 at the time and never really met anybody in the major leagues. Just to meet all those guys on the team, it was basically a dream come true. They were all nice and welcomed me in and talked to me a little bit.”
Average: T.J. Rivera, St. Lucie, .393; Wilfredo Tovar, Binghamton, .350; Brandon Nimmo, St. Lucie, .347; Matt Reynolds, Binghamton, .337; Eric Campbell, Vegas, .331; Matt Clark, Binghamton, .330; Allan Dykstra, Vegas, .329; Dilson Herrera, St. Lucie, .299; Zach Lutz, Vegas, .298; Jeff McNeil, Savannah, .297.
Homers: Matt Clark, Binghamton, 7; Taylor Teagarden, Vegas, 7; Wilmer Flores, Vegas, 5; Stefan Sabol, Savannah, 5.
RBIs: Aderlin Rodriguez, St. Lucie, 32; T.J. Rivera, St. Lucie, 29; Allan Dykstra, Vegas, 26; Stefan Sabol, Savannah, 25.
Steals: Patrick Biondi, Savannah, 8; Jeff McNeil, Savannah, 7; Stefan Sabol, Savannah, 6.
ERA: Robert Gsellman, Savannah, 1.48; Jacob deGrom, Vegas, 1.89; Steven Matz, St. Lucie, 2.14; Buddy Carlyle, Vegas, 2.16; Kevin McGowan, Savannah, 2.77; John Gant, Savannah, 2.79; Darin Gorski, Binghamton, 3.04; Hansel Robles, Binghamton, 3.51; Matt Koch, St. Lucie, 3.58; Noah Syndergaard, Vegas, 3.58.
Wins: Jacob deGrom, Vegas, 4; Noah Syndergaard, Vegas, 4; Rob Whalen, Savannah, 4.
Saves: Jeff Walters, Vegas, 6; Chasen Bradford, Binghamton, 5; Robert Coles, Savannah, 5; Randy Fontanez, St. Lucie, 4.
Strikeouts: Rafael Montero, Vegas, 36; Noah Syndergaard, Vegas, 36; John Gant, Savannah, 30; Steven Matz, St. Lucie, 30; Darin Gorski, Binghamton, 29.
• Vic Black has taken over closing duties from Jeff Walters with Vegas. Walters has a 9.82 ERA and was 6-for-9 in save chances. Walters suffered the blown save and loss Monday at Tacoma, when he entered with a one-run lead and surrendered a pair of ninth-inning runs. Black has walked 10 and hit a batter in 12 1/3 innings this season, but he also has a 0.73 ERA. He has not issued a walk in his past three appearances, although he did allow three hits before preserving Vegas’ 7-6 win Tuesday night at Salt Lake.
• Right-hander Rob Whalen, who is 4-0 for Savannah, has been released from the hospital after having an infection on his throwing hand surgically cleaned. Whalen will need to wait a couple of weeks before resuming throwing. Teammate Robert Gsellman, who sports an organization-best 1.48 ERA, also landed on the disabled list, with a hamstring strain. Gsellman has resumed tossing a baseball and should get on a mound again soon.
• Former Mets reliever Royce Ring is back with the organization as Gulf Coast League pitching coach. Ring, 33, briefly pitched last season for the independent Long Island Ducks. The Mets may have one more minor-league pitching coach vacancy, but there is hope Frank Viola will be well enough to join Vegas in time for Tom Signore to return to his originally intended role as Brooklyn Cyclones pitching coach. Viola underwent open-heart surgery on April 5. Brooklyn’s season opens June 13. Viola will be the Mets' ceremonial representative at the televised June 5 draft.
• Kansas State product Jared King proposed to his girlfriend Maggie Watson before Saturday’s Savannah game. She accepted.
• Left-hander John Lannan has yet to report to Vegas because of an ongoing family issue, team officials said. Lannan last appeared in a game April 13, with the Mets.
• Former second-round pick Cory Mazzoni, who was forced to depart the final spring-training game in Port St. Lucie in the second inning with a lat issue, has started throwing and is moving closer to mound work. Mazzoni had been ticketed for the Triple-A rotation to open the season.
• Jairo Perez batted .500 (9-for-18) with three homers, two doubles, a triple and seven RBIs on St. Lucie’s just-completed five-game trip. Since returning from a DL trip for a hamstring injury on April 15 after missing two weeks, Perez is hitting .424 with four homers and 10 RBIs and has hit safely in all nine games. Perez, a 25-year-old Venezuelan corner infielder, was released by Minnesota in 2012 and was playing independent ball until the Mets signed him.
• Aderlin Rodriguez leads the Florida State League with 32 RBIs.
• 2011 first-round pick Brandon Nimmo is 3-for-his-last-19 to drop his average to .347, but has walked eight times during that span. He leads the FSL with 33 walks, giving him a .490 on-base percentage.
• 2012 first-round pick Gavin Cecchini has an eight-game hitting streak with Savannah. He is hitting .440/.464/.600 during that span. Cecchini was removed from Sunday’s game after not hustling, but returned to the lineup the next day.
• Gabriel Ynoa, the 2013 South Atlantic League Player of the Year, rebounded from three subpar St. Lucie starts (16 ER in 13.1 IP) by limiting Charlotte to two runs in six innings Monday. Ynoa returned to getting the ball down in the zone.
• B-Mets infielder Wilfredo Tovar may have gotten a wakeup call when he was one of the first cuts from big-league camp during spring training. He had a nine-game hitting streak snapped Monday, but is still hitting .350. It was Tovar’s second hitting streak of eight-plus games this season. He has struck out only three times in 80 at-bats while also playing sound defense alternating between shortstop and second base.
• Savannah’s bullpen has been impressive. Right-handers Robert Coles and Akeel Morris and left-hander Dario Alvarez have yet to surrender an earned run in a combined 43 relief innings. They have notched 61 strikeouts during that span. Alvarez, a 25-year-old signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2007, will make his second start Thursday, against West Virginia.
• Binghamton’s Cody Satterwhite, a former Tigers farmhand who had essentially missed three seasons because of shoulder issues, opened the season with 10 straight scoreless appearances spanning 16 2/3 innings before having the streak snapped Tuesday. The Mets picked him up out of independent ball with Sioux City last summer.
• B-Mets outfielder Cory Vaughn is tied for the Eastern League lead with five outfield assists.