On May 3, Salem Red Sox shortstop Ryan Fitzgerald sent out a tweet that has garnered more than 40 retweets and 400 likes in the two weeks since.
“A year ago today I got a phone call from the Red Sox saying they had just purchased my contract from the @railcats, my independent ball team,” his message said. “For all of the Indy ballers that started today... Don’t lose hope, don’t give in, you are a lot closer than you think #doitforyou.”
Fitzgerald has done plenty in his first full season as a Boston farmhand.
Entering Friday’s game at Frederick, Fitzgerald was tied for fourth in the Carolina League with a .328 average. He ranked second on the club in hits (43) and on-base percentage (.418) behind the sizzling Jarren Duran.
Fitzgerald played four seasons at Creighton, where he was a career .253 hitter who produced only six home runs. He went undrafted as a senior in 2016, then latched on with the Gary SouthShore RailCats of the independent American Association.
He was an all-star in that league before taking Arizona Winter League Defensive Player of the Year accolades. Boston signed him and sent him to Greenville last year, where he batted .274 with eight homers in 80 games.
The 24-year-old Illinois native credits a newfound swing path for his recent success. One of his finest games as a professional came on April 9, when he doubled three times and drove in five runs against Lynchburg. He batted .337 in the opening month, highlighted by a four-hit effort on April 28.
The lefty swinger also has been surprisingly potent when facing southpaws, going 18 for 46 (.391) against them through Thursday.