Dansby Swanson and Carson Fulmer haven't even been professional baseball players for a full year, but they're already leaps and bounds from rookie ball.
The Commodore alums have each made a splash in AA ball and shown off the kind of prodigious talent that could make them MLB-bound in 2016. Swanson is slugging a robust .541 through two weeks with the Mississippi Braves, while Fulmer has shaken off the rust of an early-season slump to become a steady starter for Michael Jordan's former team, the Birmingham Barons.
Today, we'll take a look at Swanson, Fulmer, and some other notable members of Tim Corbin's class of 2015.
Dansby Swanson: 2015's No. 1 overall pick has exceeded expectations this spring, tearing the cover off the ball en route to a quick promotion to the AA Mississippi Braves. Swanson recorded 26 hits and seven stolen bases in just 21 games in single-A ball to earn his spot in the Southern League. He immediately proved he belongs, smashing a two-run home run and driving in three baserunners in his first game as a Brave. He's batting .324/.432/.541 in 10 games with Mississippi so far. That's a small sample size, but if he continues to get on base at a 43 percent clip you can expect to see Swanson make his big league debut for the real Braves this September.
Carson Fulmer: After a rough start to his 2016 season, the former Vandy ace has rebounded with three straight quality starts -- and three straight wins -- with the Birmingham Barons. Fulmer's year began with an ignominious nine runs and eight walks allowed in his first two appearances. Since then, he's settled down to give the Barons a consistent and electric arm. In those last three starts, he's posted a 16:3 K:BB ratio.
Fulmer carved up single-A competition as a rookie last summer, striking out 26 batters in 23 innings across Rookie League and Advanced-A stops. He hasn't been as dominant in AA, but recent returns showcase his ability to adapt to a higher level of competition.
Philip Pfeifer: Fulmer's rotation-mate has looked strong in limited relief outings across single-A ball this spring. The resilient lefty twirled six shutout innings with the Great Lakes Loons (nine strikeouts, two walks, one hit) to earn a call-up to Advanced A Rancho Cucamonga. His first outing there was a stressful one -- two hits, one walk -- but Pfeifer was able to limit the damage to only one run scored. He'll try to return to his dominant full-A ways the next time the Quakes dial up his number in the bullpen.
Zander Wiel: The good news is that Wiel is healthy this spring. His 2015 debut was limited to just 36 at-bats after he broke his hand in his second game as a professional. He's been better this spring, but strikeouts (29 in 29 games) have sapped his effectiveness at the plate. He's batting just .231 at full-A Cedar Rapids, though a patient approach at the plate has his on-base percentage up to .325. His power has yet to return after last season's injury; he hasn't hit a home run since hitting the DL last summer. He's made up for that dip in other ways -- he's shown off his speed with three triples and three steals this season -- but he'll need to regain the pop that led to 15 home runs at Vanderbilt last spring to be a viable first baseman for the Twins.
Rhett Wiseman: Wiel isn't the only Vandy batter to struggle in his second season of pro ball. Wiseman is batting just .220/.321/.340 with the Hagerstown Suns. However, a recent seven-game hot streak (8-20, 12 total bases) has pulled his average up from a dismal .171. He hit five home runs last year in a limited run in short-season A ball, but he has just one dinger so far this season. Like Wiel, he's looking to regain the rhythm that made him one of the NCAA's most potent power hitters (15 HRs) last spring.