Fulmer joined the Mets organization after being selected with the No. 44 overall pick of the 2011 draft as an 18-year-old from Deer Creek High School in Edmond, Oklahoma. He made a few starts with the Mets Gulf Coast League affiliate to finish the 2011 campaign before spending all of 2012 in Savannah, where he was fantastic, going 7-6 with a 2.74 era in 21 starts. Unfortunately, it's at that point when a series of injuries began to plague his career. It started with a torn meniscus during Spring Training in 2013, followed by bone spurs and bone chips in his elbow and eventually a re-tear of the same meniscus in 2014.
After three surgeries and lots of rehabilitation the last few years, Fulmer has returned with a vengeance in 2015, dominating the Double-A Eastern League to the tune of a 2.29 era in 11 starts. Earlier this week, I spoke to Fulmer about his injury history, health and being the next big arm in line for the big leagues in the Mets system:
Brender: You’ve been getting fantastic results lately. Is this just a matter of being healthy for the first time in a while?
Fulmer: It’s just the fact that I’m feeling 100 percent again. The last couple of years, I’ve been dealt these ticky-tack injuries. Nothing major, fortunately. Rehab went well after all three surgeries and I’m just thankful and blessed that I’m feeling a lot healthier.
Brender: Is this really the first season where you’ve been completely healthy?
Fulmer: I felt good after I got drafted. 2011, I was fine. 2012, I felt great all year. Then 2013 in Spring Training is when my meniscus was torn. I missed half a season there, came back and finished out. I ended up re-tearing it and having another surgery there at the beginning of the offseason, in September. Last year I was feeling good, then, as the season was going on, little bone spurs and bone chips that caught up with me. But, that’s all in the past now. I’m just looking to help the Mets in any way possible.
Brender: A lot of people have told me you’re throwing the ball a little bit harder now. Is that true?
Fulmer: I really don’t know. I just know that the ball feels good coming out of my hand. I’m starting to locate it a little bit better, especially with fastball command. I’m not really too concerned with the velo as long as I get outs, whether it’s with my good stuff or my bad stuff that day. As long as I go out and give my team a chance to win that day, that’s all that matters.
Brender: How difficult are you finding Double-A to be?
Fulmer: You can definitely tell the difference in the hitters, I think. I was always told, by everybody in this organization, just to go out and trust your stuff and it will get those guys out. No matter who they are or where they come from, I step on the mound and I take one pitch, one batter at a time and my job is to get that guy out. That’s what I try to do.
Brender: I’m guessing your confidence must be very high right now, considering the success you’re having?
Fulmer: Yes, absolutely. That’s the number one thing. You can’t really step out on the mound unless you’re confident you can get the job done. Right now, especially, I’m always confident that I can get a guy out and I can do my job but it’s always good to see results from it. I don’t think I’m changing anything major. I think I’m just doing my research with the pitching coach here, Coach [Glenn] Abbott. The catchers are doing a great job, and the defense behind me has done an amazing job. I’m just pitching to contact and letting them work for me.
Brender: You’ve been in the organization since 2011. You’re by no means old but, considering all the injury setbacks, how impatient are you getting?
Fulmer: You just try to take it in stride. I never really get upset that the injuries came because I know that it’s part of the game. It’s God’s plan and all I can say right now is I’m blessed to be here right now and I’m doing what I can do.
Brender: How important is it to you to be the next big pitcher from this organization who can make an impact in the big leagues? Is there any pressure involved with that?
Fulmer: Absolutely no pressure at all. I’m just here trying to do my job and I can’t control what the organization does. So, what I can do is go out and prove to these guys that I can do my job wherever they put me. Whether it be here or wherever else. I just take it one game at a time, one batter at a time, one pitch at a time and what happens, happens. I know all these starting pitchers in this organization, they want to be the next guy who gets the call to the show. All the guys who got called up this year, a lot of them are former teammates of mine. It’s cool seeing guys like Matz and Syndergaard getting called up because a couple of years ago we were playing on the same team. So, I’m happy for those guys. I’m proud of those guys.
Brender: What are the coaches working with you on right now?
Fulmer: Fastball command right now. I think its gotten a lot better. My slider, as well. Coach Abbott has been working with me on locating that slider a lot better in certain counts and when to throw it. And also my changeup. I’m getting confidence with that pitch. I’m starting to throw it more and more with guys in scoring position and when I really need a groundball out I’m getting a lot of confidence in that pitch as well as the rest of them.
Brender: Did all the rehab time you’ve had in the past give you an opportunity to work on other parts of your game?
Fulmer: Absolutely. Like I said earlier, when I was doing my rehab time and I was getting back to throwing, whether it was my knee or my elbow, I would just go out there to throw until I felt pain or until I proved it was healthy. I went out there and I did my work but while I was out there I worked on my pitches, stuff with my mechanics. A lot with the changeup and the two-seamer this offseason.