Michael Fulmer, traded by the Mets to the Detroit Tigers, has been named Eastern League Pitcher of the Year. The right-hander, who currently boasts a 2.16 ERA in 120.2 innings, beat out four other finalists. This is not the first accolade for the hard throwing right-hander, as he won Eastern League Pitcher of the Week for the week of August 3 to August 9.
After a successful senior year at Deer Creek High School in Oklahoma that saw him go 10-2 with a 0.72 ERA, Fulmer was drafted by the Mets in 2011 with their forty-fourth pick, as compensation for losing "type B free agent" Pedro Feliciano. He pitched a handful of innings for the GCL Mets that year, but didn't really get his professional baseball career started until 2012, when he was assigned to the Savannah Sand Gnats, the Mets' Low-A affiliate. Despite the limited time on the mound, the right-hander made the 2012 Amazin' Avenue Top 50 Mets Prospects list, at 12, thanks to a solid pitching foundation and the promise of development.
Fulmer started twenty-one games for Savannah in 2012 and impressed, posting a 2.74 ERA in 108.1 innings with very strong peripherals (8.4 K/9, 3.2 BB/9). One of the youngest players in the league that year, the 19-year-old overpowered hitters older and more experienced than he with a fastball that sat in the mid-90s and a sharp, biting slider. He jumped up Amazin' Avenue's 2013 prospect list, landing at four due to his on-the-field success and the continued promise of development.
After a strong start to his minor league career, Fulmer ran into troubling adversity in 2013. He underwent surgery in spring training to repair a tear in his meniscus, starting his season late, and then ended it early in August when he was struck by a comebacker in his shoulder. When he was on the field, Fulmer still was able to produce at a similar level as his 2012 season, as evidenced by his solid 3.44 ERA with the St. Lucie Mets, but with only 46 innings pitched for the entire season, the 20-year-old lost precious developmental time. The tantalizing promise that the right-hander boasted was still there despite the lost season, and as a result, Amazin' Avenue named Fulmer the Mets' fourteenth top prospect on the 2014 Amazin' Avenue Top 25 Mets Prospects list.
Michael Fulmer struggled with injuries for a second consecutive season in 2014, this time with bone chips in his elbow that required surgery in August. Unlike his 2013 season, Fulmer struggled while on the field, posting a 3.98 ERA in 95 innings. The power of his mid-to-upper 90s fastball kept the right-hander on Amazin' Avenue's 2015 Top 25 Mets Prospects list, but as Rob Castellano put it, "the bloom [was] off" for the 21-year-old right hander.
Writing Michael Fulmer off completely would have been premature, and in 2015, he proved all the doubters wrong. Fulmer didn't start his season until late April, recovering from off-season surgery, but when he did get back on the field, he was fully healthy for the first time in roughly two years- and pitched like it. After a single start with St. Lucie, he was assigned to the Binghamton Mets, the Mets' Double-A affiliate, where he got off to a sluggish start. After a handful of starts, Fulmer righted the ship, not only excelling, but outright dominating the Eastern League. The 22-year-old posted a 1.88 ERA in 86 innings with strong peripherals, leading the league in numerous pitching categories. Key to his success, in addition to his health, was his advanced arsenal of pitches, a mid-to-high 90s fastball, a sharp slider, and a change-up that was now a solid pitch. By July, Amazin' Avenue ranked him the Mets eighth best prospect in our midseason Top 10 prospects list.
On July 31, the trade deadline, the Mets traded Michael Fulmer, along with Luis Cessa, to acquire Yoenis Cespedes from the Detroit Tigers. Detroit assigned Fulmer to their Double-A affiliate, the Erie SeaWolves, keeping the right-hander in the Eastern League, though he shifted divisions. The hard-throwing righty was unfazed by the trade and continued posting plus numbers. Through 27.2 innings, Fulmer has posted a 2.60 ERA with Erie, striking out twenty-nine batters and walking six. Already considered one of Detroit's top prospects, there is a good chance Fulmer takes over the top spot in that organization if he continues this level of success through the rest of the 2015 season.