Wherever he went and whatever uniform he wore, Terry Fuller heard the same question. How did he, all 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds of stacked athlete, get sidetracked on his way to the football field or basketball court and find his way, bat in hand, to a ballpark?
The 18-year-old outfielder shrugs his sizeable shoulders sometimes.
Having power is a blast.
“Football, I can tell you, I liked it,” Fuller said. “But baseball—this is something that I want. I really want. I didn’t feel that way until a year ago when I realized I had a gift that I can use in this sport.”
Fuller was a late arrival to the showcase circuit, but when he did attend, his power dwarfed others. A defensive lineman at Griffin (Ga.) High and a commit to Auburn as an underclassman, Fuller had natural, uplifting power from the left side. He found mentors there who shaped his swing and his view of the game.
Sure, the lights were brighter on Friday nights, but one’s career could be longer—”a 20-year sport,” he said—and the salary more immediate on the diamond.
Through a whirlwind year of showcase appearances, scouts got a measure of Fuller, and his en vogue size. The Cardinals snagged him this year in the 15th round and signed him for $200,000.
“Two things jump out at your right away,” president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said. “Just his physical presence and his strength. He does appear to hit the ball hard and often.”
The Cardinals assigned Fuller to their Rookie-level Gulf Coast League affiliate, recognizing that he would have “some growing pains” at the plate. He could hit the ball far, but had far to go. He had rarely seen changeups, for example.
Through 19 games he hit .231/.315/.369 with 27 strikeout and two home runs in 65 at-bats. Though he didn’t hit as advertised, GCL manager Steve Turco remarked how he was told the sack-attacker was “raw” at the plate. Not from what he saw.
“You wonder how somebody with his potential lasted until the 15th (round),” Turco said.