Chad Fulton used to love playing ball with his son Dax Fulton.
But then something changed.
“By the time Dax was in the eighth grade, it wasn’t fun to play catch with him anymore,” Chad said. “His pitches were moving too much.”
It’s now the job of professional catchers to handle the four-pitch mix of Fulton, a 2020 second-rounder from Mustang (Okla.) High.
Fulton is a 19-year-old lefthander who uses a power curveball as his out pitch. He also has a low-90s four-seam fastball, a two-seam sinker and a changeup. He fills all four quadrants of the strike zone.
The 6-foot-7, 225-pound Fulton was raised 15 minutes away from Oklahoma City.
He grew up loving sports. At age 5, Fulton started playing travel ball with the Oklahoma Elite, which produced 10 Division I signees from his class alone.
As a freshman, Fulton led Mustang High to a state championship, getting the win in the state final.
However, in August of 2019—just before the start of his senior year—Fulton heard a pop in his arm while pitching for Team USA. He had a partial ligament tear and opted for Tommy John surgery.
“If you love baseball the way I love baseball,” Fulton said, “you don’t want to have to worry about (this injury) five years from now.”
Fulton had surgery on Sept. 11, 2019, and he missed Team USA’s trips to Taiwan and South Korea. He missed his senior season, too. But the Marlins were undeterred, selecting him 40th overall.
The Marlins signed Fulton for $2.4 million, a record bonus for a pitcher who missed his senior season due to injury.
Fulton, the top prep lefty in the 2020 draft, turned down a scholarship offer to Oklahoma, where coach Skip Johnson has continued to serve as one of his biggest mentors.
“Every time out,” Fulton said, “I feel more comfortable.”
— Anthony Bender, a 26-year-old who pitched independent ball the past two seasons, could help Miami’s bullpen this year. Triple-A pitching coach Jeremy Powell said Bender—the Royals’ 20th-round pick in 2016—has impressed this spring with wipeout stuff.
“My chance isn’t over,” Diaz said. “I’m waiting patiently . . . Jazz is an excellent player, a superstar. I’m happy for his success.”