Dax Fulton LHP – Mustang High School – 18 Years Old – 6’6″, 225 lbs
With the MLB Draft coming up rather quickly (June 10th & 11th on MLB Network/ESPN), there are more and more mock drafts floating around which means fans are getting familiar with the names associated with their teams developing favorites. There are the big names, the ones you absolutely know will be first rounders, but then there comes the ones you don’t; the unfamiliar name you see for the first time next to your team and wonder “who in the world is this guy and why are they my team’s first round pick?”. In my mock draft, this probably happened a few times but there’s one selection I know probably had a lot of people scratching their heads; Dax Fulton to the Tampa Bay Rays at 24th Overall which is the highest Fulton has gone in any public mock that I’ve seen. There is buzz that teams are going to under-slot in the first for a shot at him in the Competitive Balance A Round/Second Round but I don’t believe he’ll even make it that far. Let me introduce you to Dax Fulton and here’s why he will go in the first round.
Dax Fulton is a 18 year old, 6’6″, 225 lbs Left Handed Pitcher out of Mustang High School in Oklahoma and carries a commitment to the University of Oklahoma. Fulton was gaining some major helium last spring and into the summer as one of the best prep pitchers in the class before having to undergo Tommy John Surgery (TJS) in September of 2019. I know that seems frightening right off the get go but the surgery itself isn’t as much of a death sentence as it used to be. Fulton still has room to add some muscle and is projectable in that fashion as he grows in an MLB organization. Body profile wise, Fulton is tall and slim while also having great athleticism reminding me a little bit of Tyler Glasnow when standing out there on the mound.
For being as tall as he is, Fulton’s lack of struggling to repeat his mechanics in addition to keeping his whole body in sync consistently is really a great thing for him. He starts off facing home plate, then takes a step back, goes with a high leg kick and delivers with a three quarter arm slot and comes down pretty clean. There’s some push with his hips for added power and even though he has a short stride at the end, it doesn’t come down hard and it doesn’t affect the repeatability of his mechanics. Fulton’s height allows him to make up for what some people would call underwhelming velocity (90-92mph currently) by creating more of a steeper downhill plane on his pitches.
Fulton has a three pitch arsenal; a fastball, a curveball and a changeup in which he can pretty easily throw all three for strikes. Fulton’s fastball sits around 90-92 mph, which doesn’t sound like a lot relatively, but it makes up for the lack of velocity with some really good movement as it already is coming out of his arm with some serious downhill action (you can see it in the GIF above even though it was a ball). He often buries his fastball down to hitters which really helps his secondaries become more effective (more on those in a minute) and also sets it up nicely to get swings and misses with it higher in the zone (the GIF below). His fastball currently grades out as a 55 and I think as he returns from TJS and adds some muscle, he’ll be able to hover around 94-95 mph, which with the movement, will be a 60 grade pitch. I know a lot of people still use pure velocity to grade fastballs so they’re laughing at my grades for Fulton (and, for that matter, Nick Griffin who I evaluated the same way due to similar fastball profiles with the additional downward plane as prep left handers) but for me, if there is good movement but lesser velocity then it will make up for the few mph less of the pure speed which is what I replied to a tweet by my really good friend Ray Butler which is ultimately the dream someday.
Fulton’s curveball is his best pitch and it’s so good, I had to show two GIFs of it. It sits in the high 70 mph range and comes out of the hand similarly to the fastball so there’s no “tell” in his mechanics that he’s throwing it. Fulton seems to have a very good idea of how to spin the ball and as a result, it gives the pitch very good depth and hammer like qualities. Right now I would give it a 60 grade and as he returns from TJS, I could see it becoming a 65 grade pitch if he is able to get even more spin on it (which it looks to already have quite enough of) to which it would be one of the best curveballs in all the minor leagues.
Fulton’s changeup, in my opinion, is a better than what some say it is. It plays up really well in the low 80s due to the downward plane created in his release point/height and looks fastball all the way until it falls off the table at the end. Like his curveball, he throws it similarly to the fastball so again there’s no real “tell” in when he’s throwing it. For a prep pitcher, he has a good feel for it and I’d grade it a 55 right now. As he grows and develops, he could potentially add a few ticks on it but otherwise it’ll continue to be what it is, a pretty good third pitch to mix in and confuse hitters being that it is fastball-esque out of the hand. In other words, a 55 grade for it.
All in all, Dax Fulton is someone who a team will reach for in the first round because of his enormous upside and will screw up a lot of draft plans when he gets picked up. Yes there is also enormous risk being that he is coming off TJS but I truly believe he won’t make it out of the first round due to his really good fastball, incredible curveball and underrated changeup. I know it might seem crazy to say this but I believe Fulton at his peak is a SP1 or the ace of a staff. He’s just that good and that’s why his name is getting some major helium all of a sudden as teams are realizing the TJS risk isn’t as great as they thought in this wacky draft world we are in.
There’s one organization that trusts themselves so much with developing pitching that I believe they are willing to take the plunge in the first round to avoid getting sniped in the Competitive Balance A Round and that is the Tampa Bay Rays (I mocked Dax to them at 24th Overall here: https://prospectsworldwide.com/2020/05/25/2020-mock-draft-1-0/ ).
They, or any team that takes the risk on Dax, will have a left handed pitcher with some serious sky high upside.
-GIFs were made from two Prospect Live videos from one of Dax’s outings and from the Perfect Game National Showcase in Arizona. PL got the footage and I created the gifs from them