Roger Brown's On Baseball: Former Penman turning heads
BINGHAMTON METS relief pitcher Jim Fuller was in a celebratory mood following Thursday night's 7-6 triumph over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, and it had nothing to do with the postgame fireworks.
Fuller, who spent his freshman season in college as a starting pitcher at Southern New Hampshire University, retired each of the 11 batters he faced to collect the win in Thursday's victory. At one point he had a stretch of six consecutive strikeouts.
Fuller is 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA in four games since being recalled from St. Lucie of the Florida State League in mid-June. He has 12 strikeouts and has walked two in eight innings with Binghamton, which played the second game of a five-game series with the Fisher Cats on Friday night.
"That was the best I've thrown the ball in a while," Fuller said. "It was a step forward. My offspeed was good. I was throwing a lot of pitches for strikes, keeping the hitters off balance. At this level that's key."
Fuller, 26, played for Bruce Joyce at Southern New Hampshire following a stellar career at Marlborough (Mass.) High School, where he had 27 wins and struck out 335 batters. Fuller transferred out of Southern New Hampshire after his freshman season and spent a semester at Western Oklahoma before transferring to Southern Connecticut State.
"I pitched well (at Southern New Hampshire)," Fuller said. "I was on the freshman all-conference team. Southern New Hampshire was a good experience for me. I was planning on staying longer, but one of the coaches from Western Oklahoma reached out to me. It was an opportunity for me to get looked at (by professional scouts) so I took that, but Oklahoma wasn't for me."
After sitting out a season following his transfer from Western Oklahoma, Fuller went 9-3 with a 1.39 ERA in his only season at Division II Southern Connecticut. He had a 59-inning stretch where he didn't allow an earned run, and led the nation in strikeouts.
The Mets selected Fuller in the 21st round of the 2008 draft, and he was progressing as a starting pitcher until he required shoulder surgery and missed the 2011 season.
He was switched from a starter to a reliever during spring training last year.
"It's been an adjustment," Fuller said when asked about his role as a reliever. "It's definitely a different mindset coming out of the bullpen. You have to get guys out immediately. You might only face one or two batters. You have to attack them with your good stuff."
Fuller was 1-0 with a 0.84 ERA in 16 appearances with St. Lucie when he was promoted to Binghamton.
"It was definitely a relief to finally get to Double A," he said. "I'm getting to that age here you have to start making moves.
"Last year was a disaster. It was tough rehabbing. I'd go out there some games and feel like I didn't have anything on my ball. This offseason it kind of took a turn for the better. I worked hard rehabbing and it's finally starting to pay off. I'm feeling good about things right now."
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FISHER CATS catcher A.J. Jimenez will play for the World Team in the 2013 Futures Game, which will be part of Major League Baseball's All-Star festivities at Citi Field in New York. The game will be played July 14. … The Fisher Cats entered Friday's game with a 40-45 record, 13½ games behind Binghamton in the Eastern League's Eastern Division. … The Fisher Cats are fifth among the 12 Eastern League teams in team batting (.257) and 10th in team ERA (4.28).