Can Red Sox prospect Ryan Fitzgerald make the Opening Day roster?

Boston Red Sox infielder Ryan Fitzgerald
Boston Red Sox infielder Ryan Fitzgerald / Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

Ryan Fitzgerald captured the hearts of many Boston Red Sox fans last March when he treated spring training as a home run derby. In only 16 at-bats, he cracked 4 homers and drove in 9 runs. And he has been invited to spring training once again!

Last year marked his 3rd spring training invite (after making appearances in 2019 and 2020), but it was in 2022 when he firmly asserted himself into the conversation of potentially get "the call" to the big leagues in the near future.

Ryan Fitzgerald hopes the 4th time is the charm after earning another spring training invite from the Boston Red Sox

Fitzgerald left Fort Myers in 2022 after showing the Red Sox that his power tool can translate at the highest level, but the now 28-year-old utilityman still remains in limbo as we approach the start of the 2023 season.

Despite an impressive showing in the spring, Ryan never broke through to the big leagues last season. He also took a step back during his AAA campaign in terms of his offensive production, which did not help his cause.

He did manage to notch 46 extra-base hits in 127 games for the WooSox – 16 home runs, 26 doubles, and 4 triples – last season, but his batting average (.219) and on-base percentage (.304) were both career lows by a wide margin.

However, there are several things to consider when assessing just how likely it is for Ryan Fitzgerald to earn a spot on the 26-man roster for the Red Sox when this year's spring camp ends.

First, it would be difficult for him to top what he did last spring. He certainly made the most of his opportunity then, posting an absurd .450 OBP and 1.513 OPS in 11 games. And even if he did come out of the gates hot again in this year’s camp, the question of whether or not that success is sustainable will remain.

Another hurdle that Ryan Fitzgerald would need to overcome is the fact that he is a non-roster invitee (also referred to as NRI) and not a member of the 40-man roster. This means he needs to hurdle other noteworthy prospects like Ceddanne Rafaela and Enmanuel Valdez to earn his shot with the Red Sox.

Something that does work in Fitzgerald’s favor, aside from the proven power tool he possesses, is his versatility. He has logged playing time at every position except pitcher and catcher during his professional career. His presence on the major league roster would give more flexibility for Alex Cora from a situation matchups perspective on any given day.

In closing, it remains to be seen if Ryan Fitzgerald will be able to break through this season and make his long-awaited MLB debut (nevermind the Opening Day roster). He was a joy to watch in Fort Myers last spring, and his call-up could provide the Red Sox a spark during the 2023 season. I think the stars would need to align for Fitzgerald to be at Fenway Park on March 30th, but I’m also not quite ready to count him out yet.