White Sox Q&A: Carson Fulmer's future, the state of the rebuild and more

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This week’s White Sox mailbag addresses the future of pitcher Carson Fulmer, the state of the rebuild and a beat change

Fresh to the White Sox beat, the Tribune's Chris Kuc answers readers' questions about 's future, the state of the White Sox rebuild, and switching over the Sox beat after eight years covering the Blackhawks.

Where does Carson Fulmer begin 2018? Rotation, bullpen or Triple-A Charlotte? — @JohnCarney3

The rookie right-hander was terrific in capturing his first career victory as a starter Sunday, striking out nine during the Sox’s 8-1 victory over the Giants. Fulmer flashed his potential by being effective with his fastball up in the zone and while he might be better suited as a starter, it’s more likely the Sox’s first-round (8th overall) pick in the 2015 draft will begin next season in the bullpen. A lot depends on the health of Carlos Rodon, who has been shut down for the rest of the 2017 season with inflammation in his left shoulder, and even more so on the development of fellow prospects and -- and even Michael Kopech. With James Shields holding down a spot, the Sox could add another veteran arm to eat up innings while Fulmer works his way toward a starting role in the future.

Step 1: Trade vets and rebuild system – 2017. Step 3: Compete for playoffs with assets in 2019/2020. What is the ideal Step 2 in 2018? — Nick, Mahomet, Ill.

Step 2 has already begun as the Sox are now in assessment mode of the prospects they have acquired and are focusing on acclimating them with the organization’s systems.

“Player development is going to be more and more important ... as we get these players closer to the big leagues and reaching their potential,” general manager Rick Hahn said earlier this month.

Meanwhile, when ’18 rolls around, it will be rinse and repeat Step 1. Other than Avisail Garcia, who may or may not be part of the Sox’s rebuilding plan, there aren’t a lot of veterans left to trade for prospects. Still, look for Hahn to stay the course and do what he can to keep stockpiling young talent.

Finishing near or at the bottom of the standings this season will help as the Sox are in line to select in the Top 3 of the ’18 draft. A home run there would further bolster the pipeline.

Which player or players currently on the team do you think are key to success sooner (2018) vs. later? — @mflomenhoft

Not to state the obvious, but Jose Abreu is getting better and better and is approaching elite status in the majors. If he keeps ascending, the Sox will ride his bat to more victories.

In looking at the young players on the current roster, it will be the development of hurlers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez that could turn the Sox into threats to win more games in ’18. They are gaining valuable experience against big-league hitters down the stretch, which is much more valuable than what they will do in . While fans want to Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez to immediately blossom into stars, patience should be practiced.

How did it come to be that you’re switching over to the White Sox beat? — @KFord1957

When you cover the Blackhawks for more than eight seasons— including three championships — hockey becomes part of your DNA. But when my sports editor called me out of the blue one recent afternoon and asked if I’ve secretly always wanted to be a baseball writer, my heart screamed, “yes!”

I consider it an honor and a privilege to cover a team that many of my friends have followed since birth. There are too many to mention, but I will single out one: the late Terry Armour. He loved life and he loved his White Sox. Each time I sit down to write about his team I effort to make it a story of which Terry would approve.

I made so many friends during my years covering the Hawks and the . I will maintain those friendships and I know that if I ever need them, I can stop into any number of dive bars across North America and they will be there ready for a beer and a conversation.

ckuc@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @ChrisKuc

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