Fuller Still Seeks A Turnaround

Lonnie Chisenhall's life changed in 2007 after the theft that led to his dismissal from the South Carolina baseball program. The same can be said for his partner in crime.

Nick Fuller, the other player involved in the thefts, was a third-round pick of the Rays coming out of Kell High in suburban Atlanta in 2006. He turned down roughly $450,000 to play at South Carolina. Until the arrest, Fuller's career seemed to be going exactly as planned. He hadn't allowed a hit or run in his six appearances with the Gamecocks.

But while Chisenhall has rebounded to develop into one of the top third-base prospects in the minors, Fuller has struggled to get career back on track.

After his dismissal from South Carolina, Fuller transferred to Walters State (Tenn.) JC for the 2008 season. The success he had at South Carolina didn't follow him to Tennessee. Fuller always had a violent arm action, which led to concerns about his command and durability. At Walters State, the fastball that once touched 95 mph sat more often between 88-92. Walters State coach Ken Campbell said that he had no problems with Fuller on or off the field, but a shoulder injury limited his success.

"He was a hard worker and a very intelligent kid. He was almost a 4.0 (GPA) student. But he started having control problems," Campbell said. "We had it checked out. He had shoulder problems. We just weren't able to get a whole lot out of him."

Fuller went 5-2, 5.61 with 64 hits allowed, 34 walks and 64 strikeouts in 59 innings for Walters State. The Braves drafted him in the 25th round in 2008, but Fuller's shoulder injury precluded a shot at pro ball at the time. He missed the entire 2009 season recovering from shoulder surgery and now has moved on to Southern Poly State, an NAIA school in his native Marietta, Ga.

Academically, Fuller is now thriving, according to his Southern Poly coaching staff. But athletically he has been unable to regain the stuff that once made him a top prospect. Fuller walked the only three batters he faced in his first outing of the season and has walked at least three batters in each of his first four outings (four innings combined). Overall he was 0-0, 11.25 with 11 walks in four innings.

Attempts to interview Fuller for this story were unsuccessful. It seems unlikely he'll ever receive another pro contract that approaches the money he turned down as a high school senior, based on injury and makeup concerns from scouts and other team officials.

So while Chisenhall makes his climb to major league prominence, his former teammate continues to wait for his big turnaround.

—J.J. Cooper