In their shoes: Michael Fulmer's trusty cowboy boots

Michael Fulmer can rarely be seen without the pair of 13-D Limited Edition Double-H King Ranch cowboy boots from received from his wife. Courtesy of Tigers PR

DETROIT -- Michael Fulmer didn’t have a pair of steel-toed boots, but luckily for the 23-year-old Detroit Tigers pitcher, he wasn’t lacking for rugged footwear.

When he needed a sturdy pair of shoes for his offseason side gig a few years ago, he turned to his trusty pair of size 13D Limited Edition Double-H King Ranch cowboy boots. He received them as a gift from his wife, Kelsey, as a matching complement to his Ford Super Duty F-250 King Ranch pickup truck and rarely left home without them.

“They work for everything.” Fulmer told ESPN.com.

For the past few winters, Fulmer has worked with a good buddy and his uncle for the latter’s plumbing company, digging ditches and replacing sewer lines. The boots, which he wears for pretty much any event regardless of weather, turned out to serve him well even for that heavy labor back home in Edmond, Oklahoma.

There might be plenty of professional athletes who need little more than a pair of golf cleats and some sneakers for the winter months away from the baseball field, but Fulmer has never been one of those guys, and he doesn’t plan to be now that he’s made his mark in the major leagues, either.

“I could always use the extra spending money, but it takes my mind off everything else, so I don't have to sit there and think of baseball, think about workouts, stuff like that,” said Fulmer, who works at a nearby pro shop as well (for the free golf). “I go work out in the morning, work in the afternoon. It keeps me grounded. It keeps me busy, that's the big thing.”

Digging ditches during his time off? No wonder the Tigers’ No. 1-rated prospect seems to be both unruffled by the pressure of the big leagues and unaffected by the acclaim that comes with success at that level. A former first-round pick who was acquired in a trade with the New York Mets last season, he remains humble despite generating buzz for Rookie of the Year.

And it's not just talk. He has a 8-2 record with a 2.17 ERA in his first 12 starts with the Tigers. Already, Fulmer set the franchise record for the longest scoreless streak of any rookie pitcher with an incredible 33⅓ scoreless innings pitched.

But Fulmer won’t be letting that go to his head anytime soon. Nor will he let the sudden spotlight make an impact on his sartorial choices. When he’s not on the mound, you won’t find him in fancy wingtips or gleaming bluchers. In fact, he’s in the market to add another pair of cowboy boots to his collection. He’s also got two pairs of Justin brands in his rotation, though the Double-H’s remain his go-to favorite. They’re broken in and battle-tested. What more does he need?

“It’s all I wear,” he said.