Several big arms took the mound today at the first day of USA Baseball's Tournament of Stars and righthander Carson Fulmer from All Saints' Academy in Winter Haven, Fla. was one of the standouts. He admitted to being a little nervous on the mound, but it sure didn't show.
"You have butterflies at first because coming here, you really don't know what to expect," Fulmer said. "But, once you go out there and loosen up and get a feel for things and get in that rhythm, you get comfortable and just pitch. I felt great today."
It was the hitters that should have had butterflies. Fulmer—who stands 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds—showed a fastball in the 92-95 mph range and a 78-79 mph slider. He also threw one 85 mph changeup. Fulmer said the big velocity isn't something new for him—he said that's how he was throwing last spring, too—but it isn't what he focuses on.
"I know I've shown good velocity, but I'm more about showing pinpoint accuracy and hitting the black," Fulmer said. "That's huge for me, just getting ahead of hitters and finding the strike zone."
While his status with Team USA is yet to be determined, Fulmer knows he will be pitching near his home at the East Coast Professional Showcase in Lakeland, Fla. Aug. 1-4 and then at the Perfect Game All-American Classic.
With college commitments coming earlier and earlier, it's rare these days for a player—especially one touching 95 mph—to be uncommitted to a school during the summer showcase circuit, but Fulmer, who has a 3.8 grade point average, said he's enjoying taking it slow.
"I want to take the process real slow and make sure I'm making the right decision," he said. "Hopefully where I go is the right place and I'm just going to let things play out and see how it goes from there."
• PONY is loaded with hitters and arms, but needed a walk-off single from outfielder Jesse Winker to beat USA Stars today. Lefthander Matthew Crownover of Ringgold (Ga.) High started the game. He was 87-90 and touched 91 with his fastball while showing a good changeup in the mid-70s. His curveball is in the low 70s, but needs a lot of refinement. . . Houston Christian High righthander Mitchell Traver pitched in relief and sat 89-92 with his fastball. His changeup was in the mid-80s, but is a work in progress. He threw a low 80s slider with sharp downward bite. His stuff is good, but he struggled to locate his pitches. . . Spanish Fork (Utah) High righthander Kayden Porter came in to close the game but surrendered three runs before being removed. His fastball was 89-92, but he also struggled to locate. His curveball looked good at 79-81 mph with sharp break.
• In the game against PONY, Chris Harvey played first base and catcher. He's been on the prospect map for a while since he was a sophomore at Germantown Academy (Fort Washington, Pa.) when shortstop Sean Coyle and righthander Keenan Kish were getting consistent looks. However, he has always shown his potential with his bat. Against good velocity he stood out today, squaring up a few balls for hits, including a home run.
• Ayala High (Chino Hills, Calif.) outfielder Vahn Bozoian got a chance to show off his arm today on a sacrifice fly. It was a laser, but well up the third base line allowing the runner to score easily. At the plate, Bozoian's long levers lengthen his swing and cause him to get jammed easily, but he did show an ability go the other way. His AABC teammate, Joey Gallo of Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas, seems to be coming around with the bat and showed off his strength by using an inside-out swing to hit a ball to the warning track. He also made a couple of nice plays at third base ranging to his left and starting a double play.
• Corey Seager, a shortstop at Northwest Cabarrus High in Kannapolis, N.C. and brother to Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager, has a strong frame at 6-foot-3, 195 pounds. He made consistent, hard contact from the left side of the plate going 3-for-4 today.
• Babe Ruth is stacked with talent once again. Albert Almora, an outfielder from Mater Academy in Hialeah, Fla., had a loose, easy swing in batting practice and went 2-for-4 with two walks and four runs in the first game of the day. He shows easy power and an ability to go the other way, but was bailing with his front foot during the game. . . Tim Lopes, brother and double play partner to Christian at Edison High in Huntington Beach, Calif., isn't on the same level at the plate, but he's a good defender at shortstop with a strong arm.
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