There’s a treasured family photo from nearly a decade ago that shows 10-year-old Evan Fitterer casually flipping the ball to himself on the mound.
It was often the best view of the baseball that hitters got before striking out.
“Evan was very shy when he was younger,” his mother, Trish Fitterer, said. “But he was like a different kid on the mound. He had a quiet confidence.”
That’s still the case today for Fitterer, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound righthander, as he prepared to start his first full year with the Marlins. The 19-year-old was a fifth-round pick last year from Aliso Viejo, Calif., who signed for $1.5 million rather than play for UCLA.
His pro debut was successful—2.38 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 22.2 innings in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League—as Fitterer showed a full assortment of pitches.
Fitterer said he has his greatest trust in his changeup, but his curveball has graded out the highest, his slider is sharp, and his fastball has touched 96 mph while sitting in the low 90s.
One of the motivating factors for Fitterer has been his relationship with his two best friends—lefthander Quinn Mathews, who is now playing for Stanford; and righthander Ethan Hoopingarner, a freshman at Southern California.
Hoopingarner and Fitterer lived just two doors down since age 3, and Mathews joined their Little League team just a few years later.
By his senior year, Fitterer had become the ace of an incredible high school pitching staff at Aliso Niguel. Fitterer, who went 9-1, 0.97 with 82 strikeouts in 65 innings, was often followed in the rotation by Hoopingarner (7-1, 0.79), with Mathews (3-2, 1.03, seven saves) in relief.
Beyond baseball, Fitterer has an analytical side—he was interested in studying engineering at UCLA. He has an artistic soul, too, taking up the guitar over the past several months.
But his clear focus is baseball, and he still plays the game with that quiet confidence, which includes not showing up batters he has just defeated with his pitches.
“I don’t like to show off,” Fitterer said. “It’s not a good look—not very professional.”