June 23, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – After an incredible senior season as the ace of the University of Notre Dame baseball pitching staff was cut short due to a non-throwing injury (forearm), RHP Sean Fitzgerald didn’t hear his name called during the 2014 MLB Draft. Despite the disappointment of not being drafted, Fitzgerald kept with his rehab schedule and was rewarded Friday afternoon (June 20) by the Los Angeles Angels with a free agent contract.
“It's an honor to sign a free agent deal with the Angels,” said Fitzgerald. “I am fortunate to get a free agent deal with a team who’s pitching philosophy fits my mold and am extremely excited to get started in Arizona.
“It was really tough having the injury at the end of my senior season and not being able to throw on our home field or help out my team down the stretch. It was even harder realizing I had proved myself in the Atlantic Coast Conference and yet nobody wanted to draft me because of the injury. The only strength I had to keep working at it was the thought of how losing to Miami (then-No. 11 in the country and riding a 13-game winning streak) in the ninth inning would be my last outing. I couldn't live with that.”
Before suffering forearm soreness and swelling that kept him out for the remainder of the year following the Miami game, Fitzgerald had firmly established himself as one of the most consistent pitchers in the ACC.
In 10 outings, he was 3-3 with a 2.29 ERA in 70.2 innings pitched. He hurled two complete games and held opponents to a low .204 batting average. In addition, the McLean, Va., native was as steady as it got on the mound in 2014 for the Irish as he turned in eight quality starts in 10 outings (6.0+ IP, < 3 ER).
At the time of his injury he was tied for second in the ACC in complete games and tied for third in starts and was also fourth in innings pitched and 11th in ERA.
For his career, Fitzgerald was 16-12 with six saves and two complete games in 249.0 innings of work (3.51 ERA). He struck out 173 batters and walked 60.
“For Fitz to have gone through a non-throwing injury like he did and to then earn a degree from the Mendoza College of Business, it would have been easy for him to cash in his baseball chips and get a great job in finance,” said assistant / pitching coach Chuck Ristano. “However, one of the reasons he is so good is that he is constantly working to better himself and he has a belief that he can do good things in baseball. This year he went out and pitched like the Friday night starter we needed and he deserved a chance to get drafted. When that didn’t happen, he could have gotten down but he kept grinding and gave himself a shot to get this free agent chance. He deserves it so much and we are all thrilled for him.
“This year he proved himself to be a tremendous competitor and he has the ability in the pros to start or enter the game in relief. If he starts, he has three pitches that will work nicely. I think he is a slam dunk and I could see him making progress really quickly as a pro.”
With Fitzgerald added to the mix, the 2014 Irish now have three standout pitchers all beginning their first season in the professional ranks. Fellow senior RHP Donnie Hissa made his first appearance for the Helena Brewers (Rookie League) Saturday, and threw an inning and allowed just a walk while striking out one batter. Meanwhile, RHP Pat Connaughton (Orioles) and Fitzgerald should both see action in the coming weeks.
For more information on former Notre Dame baseball standouts that now reside in the pros, remember to follow the Irish on Facebook (/NDBaseball) and Twitter (@NDBaseball).
--Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director