What the Red Sox saw in Ryan Fitzgerald before signing him out independent ball in 2018

Ryan Fitzgerald is off to a blazing hot start with the Worcester Red Sox. After homering on Opening Day, the versatile prospect went deep twice as part of 2-for-showing in Jacksonville on Thursday night.

Through his first three games of the Triple-A season, Fitzgerald is batting .636 (7-for-11)/.667/1.455 with three homers, five RBIs, four runs scored, one walk, and four strikeouts over 12 trips to the plate.

This comes on the heels of a spring training in which Fitzgerald was one of the Sox’ standouts in Fort Myers. While making a strong case to make Boston’s Opening Day roster, the left-handed hitter clubbed a team-leading four home runs and posted a 1.513 OPS across 11 Grapefruit League contests.

Although the Red Sox sent Fitzgerald down to Triple-A Worcester on March 27, there is no doubt the 27-year-old could be on the verge of a big-league call-up sooner rather than later.

A native of Illinois, Fitzgerald played four seasons at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. but went undrafted. Rather than take his talents to affiliated ball right away like other amateur prospects, Fitzgerald signed with the Gary SouthShore RailCats of the independent American Association in 2017.

It was Gary, Ind. where Fitzgerald was first seen by Red Sox pro scout David Scrivines. Scrivines, who has been with the team since 2008, initially took note of Fitzgerald’s plate discipline and ability to move around the infield.

“He seemed like someone who had real quality at-bats and knew the strike zone well,” Scrivines told BloggingtheRedSox.com. “Knowing the ballpark in Gary is a pitcher-friendly ballpark, players don’t put up power numbers in that park.  So I wasn’t sure how the power would project in the future. We saw someone with a steady glove and arm and athleticism.”

In his first season with the RailCats in 2017, Fitzgerald slashed .239/.301/.395 with seven home runs and 20 RBIs over 84 games while seeing playing time at every infield position besides first base. He was also well-liked by his teammates and coaches, including manager Greg Tagert.

“Former Gary manager Greg Tagert raved about his makeup,” said Scrivines. “So we knew he’s a top-notch person and teammate.”

The following spring, Fitzgerald signed with the Sox as an undrafted free agent and debuted with the Greenville Drive in June. He made it as far as High-A before the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the minor-league season in 2020.

Last year, Fitzgerald broke camp with Double-A Portland and made it up to Worcester for a spell over the summer. The 6-foot, 185 pounder also made his pro debut as an outfielder in 2021.

So far this season, Fitzgerald — who turns 28 in June — has made starts at second base, third base, and shortstop. Combine what he has done at the plate with his versatility, and it has been an impressive start to the 2022 campaign for the utility man.

“It’s great to see him get off to such a good start this spring – both offensively and moving around the field on the defensive end – and watching his progress the past four years,” Scrivines said.

(Picture of Ryan Fitzgerald: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Author: Brendan Campbell

Blogging about the Boston Red Sox since April '17. Also support Tottenham Hotspur.

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