Pittsburgh Pirates Claim Carson Fulmer, DFA Guillermo Heredia

CHICAGO - JULY 15: Carson Fulmer of the Chicago White Sox pitches during a summer workout intrasquad game as part of Major League Baseball Spring Training 2.0 on July 15, 2020 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images)
CHICAGO - JULY 15: Carson Fulmer of the Chicago White Sox pitches during a summer workout intrasquad game as part of Major League Baseball Spring Training 2.0 on July 15, 2020 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images) /
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The Pittsburgh Pirates recently claimed a former top 100 pitching prospect, and DFA’ed an off season signee.

It’s no secret the Pittsburgh Pirates‘ pitching staff are riddled with injuries. Mitch Keller, Joe Musgrove, Clay Holmes, and Kyle Crick were all projected to play large roles with the team this year. But all of them are currently on the injured list, and could possibly be joined by Keone Kela.

We’ve seen them make a few depth moves, by acquiring Tyler Bashlor, and Nick Tropeano, and they’ve made another move to add more pitching depth, this time by acquiring former top 100 prospect, and Vanderbilt product Carson Fulmer. He will be replacing off season signee, outfielder Guillermo Heredia.

Not long ago, Fulmer was considered a top pitching prospect, and the Chicago White Sox’ best prospect. Fulmer was selected 8th overall in the 2015 MLB draft, and quickly made his presence known. Through his first 23 professional innings, the right hander had put up a 1.96 ERA, 28% strikeout rate, and a 0.8 HR/9. Though he did have a slightly high 9.7% walk rate, Fulmer was still seen as a future ace for the Sox. He even ranked as high as the 38th best prospect in baseball per MLB Pipeline enterin 2016.

But Fulmer has since fallen from grace. He has yet to put up good numbers throughout an entire season. In his last full season as strictly a starter, that being 2017, Fulmer had a 5.79 ERA, 5.39 FIP and 1.56 WHIP across 126 innings at Triple-A. Fulmer had allowed 18 home runs, and struck out just 96 batters. But he walked 65, resutling in a 11.4% walk rate.

The numbers since then haven’t looked much better as he’s seen his walk rate increase over the last two years. Fulmer has seen some time in the majors. He’s pitched a total of 101.1 innings at Baseball’s highest level, accumulating a 6.56 ERA, 6.33 FIP and 1.63 WHIP. Control issues have continued to plague him at the majors as he’s walked 13.9% of all batters he’s faced. Home runs have also been a large issue with a 1.8 HR/9 rate.

Fulmer was designated for assignement by the team who drafted him right before the 2020 season started. He was claimed off waviers by the Tigers, and only pitched 6.2 innings allowing 5 earned runs on one home run, three walks, and seven strikeouts. He was then designated for assignement again on August 20 to make room for Buck Farmer.

Still, despite the lack of results, Fulmer is just 26-years-old, and Fangraphs still gives all his pitches average or better grades. His best being his cutter with a 60 current and future grade. Both his change up and curveball have future 55 grades, and his fastball has a 50 current/future grade as well. In a season like this, there’s no real risk in trying out to see if you can fix a struggling former top prospect like this.

To make room for Fulmer on the roster, Guillermo Heredia has been designated for assignment. Heredia had been an off season signee by the Pittsburgh Pirates to add outfield depth after they traded former all-star outfielder Starling Marte. Before joining the Pirates, Heredia had batted for a .240/.317/.342 line, 82 OPS+ and 84 wRC+ through 1101 plate appearances shared with the Seattle Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays.

However, across those four seasons, Heredia showed he could be a decent outfield defender, more so in the conrers than in centerfield. In left field, he had +8 DRS, 2.0 UZR and 2.3 arm runs above average with a -0.8 range runs above average mark. In right, he had +8 DRS, +1.9 arm runs above average, 2.4 range runs above average and a 4.3 UZR. However, in center, he had -9 DRS, -10.7 range runs above average and -14.5 UZR.

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Heredia had recieved 18 plate appearances with the Pittsburgh Pirates prior to his DFA. But he only collected theee hits, none of which went for extra bases, and only walked twice. Heredia had put up solid defensive numbers with +2 DRS, 1.8 UZR, and 1.4 range runs above average, albiet in 45.1 innings of work. Heredia was sitting in DFA limbo since August 6th when he was optioned to the team’s alternative training site to make the 28-man roster cutoff.

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