Dodgers stealing Walker Buehler’s ex-teammate highlights Rule 5 haul

Adam Weinrib
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 24: Starting pitcher Carson Fulmer #51 of the Chicago White Sox delivers the ball against the Cleveland Indians at Guaranteed Rate Field on September 24, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 24: Starting pitcher Carson Fulmer #51 of the Chicago White Sox delivers the ball against the Cleveland Indians at Guaranteed Rate Field on September 24, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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With every other portion of the transaction wire frozen, the minor-league portion of the Rule 5 Draft has taken on new meaning for every desperate MLB team, and the Dodgers made serious headway during the Wednesday proceedings.

The minor-league Rule 5 Draft isn’t typically quite as exciting as is major-league cousin. The names aren’t usually familiar. The players don’t have to stick on the big-league roster all season long, lest they get returned to their original squads. It’s just an exchange of petered-out prospects and relative unknowns for teams looking to catch lightning in a bottle.

Without a typical MLB offseason to observe, though, it might as well be an international art heist. We are ready for news, in any capacity.

And the Dodgers provided it, managing to snag not one, but two honest-to-goodness familiar names and former top prospects during Wednesday’s action.

How’d they do it? Not sure! But if you did a double take at the names “Carson Fulmer” and “Jon Duplantier,” you weren’t the only one.

Yes, that’s a former No. 8 overall pick and Vanderbilt hurler in Fulmer, who was selected ahead of Walker Buehler in the 2015 MLB Draft. And yes, that’s the Diamondbacks’ No. 1 prospect from back in 2018.

Dodgers add Carson Fulmer and Jon Duplantier in Rule 5 Draft.

No, not Michael Fulmer — though both men have ironically played in MLB from 2016-2021. Different dudes.

Carson Fulmer was the premium pitching prospect to emerge from Buehler’s Vandy Boys rotation. The bespectacled righty was selected eighth overall in ’15, but has struggled in multiple stops and is approaching his 28th birthday.

His best year with the Pale Hose came in 2017, when in limited duty (23.1 innings pitched) he managed a 3.86 ERA at the age of 23. It was all downhill from there, though, culminating in a disappointing 2021 that started with him making the Reds roster out of camp following a miraculous comeback and ended with him needing a new home after posting a 6.66 ERA in 20 games.

No better place to land than alongside an old friend, though, and he’ll be joining a Dodgers organization where his old teammate Walker has, uh, thrived to say the least.

As for Duplantier, the former D-Backs top hurler has also struggled since his name escalated up the prospect charts, and he’s also famously bespectacled. If wearing goggles on the mound is the new market inefficiency, then Andrew Friedman is Billy Beane.

Duplantier’s 2017 season, at the age of 22, put the third-rounder on the prospect map. Across two levels, he posted a 1.39 ERA in 139 innings, whiffing 165 using a beguiling combination of pitchers without relying on upper echelon velocity.

It’s never quite clicked at the MLB level, though, culminating in a ruthless 2021 season where Duplantier made just four big-league starts, lasting 13 innings across all of them with a 13.15 ERA and -0.8 WAR. He took a win away from the team in just 13 innings. Not what you want.

Though he might not have the family factor of the Fulmer addition, that’s no reason to ignore Duplantier’s potential (though how he ended up joining and leaving the Giants is news to us).

Will either of these additions be a slam-dunk depth piece for the Dodgers in 2022? Of course not.

But Max Muncy had much less pedigree than these two when he floated into the Dodgers’ hands. Let’s see what a serious focus on player development can do for these fellows’ talented right arms.

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