Sean Fitzpatrick: Magic on the Mound
by Justin de Haas
Left-handed pitcher Sean Fitzpatrick, also known by his self-annointed nickname “Fitzmagic,” has tricks up his sleeve and he still has more to come.
Fitzpatrick is a native of Spring, Texas, which is a suburb 25 miles north of Houston with a population of roughly 60,000 residents. According to Prep Baseball Report, the Spring native was the no. 134 overall prospect and no. 3 left-handed pitcher out of Texas, coming from Concordia Lutheran High School in Tomball, which is about 15 miles west of Spring. The Crusader had offers from a few Big 12 schools like Texas and Texas Tech, among other places.
The Concordia Lutheran graduate ultimately picked the University of Arkansas because the Razorbacks are an Southeastern Conference baseball powerhouse that produces plenty of MLB players and Fayetteville is an eight-hour drive from Spring. Arkansas had a 46-21 record with three wins in the College World Series in the 2022 season, so the Razorback knew he was entering a highly-competitive environment.
Fitzmagic did not allow a run and had five strikeouts in 2 ⅔ innings for the Razorbacks in 2023. The freshman did not pitch as much as he would have liked, but he learned a lot and was able to cheer on his team as the Razorbacks finished 43-18 and hosted a regional. Fitzpatrick decided to put his name in the transfer portal in mid-July, but he has no animosity toward his former squad.
“I needed to go somewhere else where I had a really good opportunity to make an impact,” Fitzpatrick said. “That was my main reason for transferring. I love those guys and the coaches. There is no bad blood. It was awesome. That first year. I developed a lot as a pitcher. Even though I didn’t throw a lot, it was a lot of fun.”
Before Fitzpatrick entered the transfer portal, he joined the Walnut Creek Crawdads of the California Collegiate League to get some innings under his belt during the summer. It may seem odd that a kid who has only lived in the South would come to Northern California for summer ball, but Walnut Creek manager Brant Cummings has a connection with Arkansas that allowed the SEC pitcher to come to the Bay Area.
“Bobby Wernes is the assistant coach and in charge of summer placement at Arkansas,” Cummings said. “He and I have known each other for a number of years. Each year, I call him in the Fall, as well as Matt Hobbs, the pitching coach. We talk about getting players out here and Sean was one of the two guys they assigned here. He is the one who came. The other guy didn’t play much and he opted to transfer.”
The Crawdads knew they were getting a talented pitcher, but they weren’t entirely sure what to expect considering Fitzpatrick’s small sample size in college. It is safe to say the ‘Dad surpassed expectations, finishing the summer with a 1.28 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 28 innings pitched against CCL opponents. The lefty was a CCL 30 Showcase Game representative and is in the conversation for CCL Pitcher of the Year, but he has also made a tremendous impact off the field.
“He has meant a lot,” Cummings said. “His ability to get outs and not walk people keeps us competitive. As a human being, a positive attitude everyday and I think flows to the other players on the team.”
Fitzpatrick found a new home on July 26, when he announced his commitment to Arizona State University. As a result, the Sun Devil made the difficult decision of having to leave the Crawdads right before the postseason to get ready for the Fall semester at ASU. Not only did the Crawdad develop as a pitcher, but the experience in the East Bay has been great in other ways too.
“We had a guy from Arkansas last year get sent out here and I got sent out here this year,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’ve had a freakin’ blast. It’s been awesome…I got the chance to pitch and compete again, which has been awesome. It brought me back to loving baseball. I never lost the love for the game, but not throwing a lot you lose what it feels like to be part of winning. I have had so much fun meeting the games out here and it’s been a blast. I’ll probably be friends with them for the rest of my life.”
Fitzpatrick mentioned meeting new friends with the Crawdads and that is what he is starting to do with his Arizona State teammates. The rising sophomore has already met with some of the ASU returners and newcomers, along with Sun Devils’ head coach Willie Bloomquist and pitching coach Sam Peraza. The coaches factored into the decision, but there were other reasons for the pitcher to come to Tempe.
“Obviously the coaching staff there is great,” Fitzpatrick said. “Coach Bloomqusit, I really want to play for him. Coach Peraza is great. They had six or seven pitchers this last year signed that were drafted. It’s a great spot. Phoenix is right in the middle of spring training. Facility is amazing. It’s just a great program. A historically great program and I want to be a part of that. I want to get back to the oldschool Arizona State.”
Fitzpatrick mentioned how the Sun Devils had six pitchers drafted, which include all three weekend starters from last season. The southpaw only worked out of the bullpen for the Razorbacks and Crawdads, but he said that Bloomquist and Peraza want to build him up into potentially being a weekend starter for the upcoming season. The reliever threw 63 pitches in six innings against the Healdsburg Prune Packers in his last outing as a Crawdad, so he has demonstrated flashes of being able to pitch longer into games.
The left-hander mentioned how he has a rejuvenated love for the game after his summer with the Crawdads and he is definitely motivated to pitch more with his new squad. Sun Devil fans may not know what to expect from their newest addition, so allow Fitzpatrick to introduce himself in his own words.
“A winner,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’m going to go and compete my butt off and hopefully help us win games. At the end of the day, I want to go out there and give whatever I have to win that baseball game. I’m just super excited for it man.”