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The wait was longer than he expected, but Richard Fitts was drafted by the New York Yankees in the sixth round of the MLB Draft.
The Auburn pitcher was selected with the 183rd overall pick. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound selection is slotted to make $266,000 based on where he was selected.
Fitts was a key reliever for Auburn as a freshman in 2019, throwing six shutout innings to beat Georgia Tech in the NCAA regional playoffs, winning the clincher against North Carolina in the super regionals and pitching well in two College World Series appearances. He remained in the bullpen during the shortened 2020 season but raised his profile significantly as a starter during summer play and fall practice. Viewed as a potential first-rounder, he instead has become an enigma after sustaining a foot injury in early March and pitching sparingly afterward. After operating with a low-90s sinker as a reliever, Fitts began employing a four-seam fastball as a starter. He showed the ability to sit at 93-95 mph for several innings and reach 97 with quality vertical life on his heater last year and has mostly held that velocity in 2021. He has two promising secondary pitches, with his upper-80s changeup with some splitter action currently a more reliable option than his improving mid-80s slider, but both have regressed this spring. Fitts’ stuff has gotten better as he has grown into his 6-foot-3 frame, which is strong enough for him to handle a starter’s workload. His arm action and delivery are sound, and he throws strikes with his entire arsenal. Adding to the package is his competitiveness, which draws as much praise as his stuff.