The Boston Red Sox wanted to reward pitching prospect Richard Fitts for what they viewed as exemplary work from the pitching prospect in spring training.

So in a surprising move, Fitts, who the Red Sox acquired in the offseason when they sent Alex Verdugo to the New York Yankees, got the final start of Boston’s exhibition slate last week against the Texas Rangers.

Fitts was thrilled to get that opportunity and Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham thought it was well-deserved.

“It was a good chance for the organization to let someone who has led by example — despite being new — show what can be done and how players can continue to improve even at the upper levels if they push themselves and they’re willing to be open-minded about doing new things,” Abraham told MassLive’s Chris Cotillo. “As a new guy in the organization, he has really exemplified what we’re trying to do with our pitchers pushing themselves on the mound and in the weight room.

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“With someone like him who has been in (velocity) training, he has really been willing to let his guard down and do some things that maybe he hadn’t done in the past to challenge himself and get some more out of himself physically than maybe he even knew he had.”

Fitts showed well against the reigning World Series champions, who played most of their regulars in the spring training finale. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound right-hander pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing two hits and one walk while striking out three, including fanning Evan Carter twice.

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The 24-year-old, who is ranked as Boston’s third-best pitching prospect by MLB Pipeline, made his way to Triple-A Worcester following the game but had already made a sizable impression on Abraham and the Red Sox.

“One of our mantras now with (pitching coach Andrew Bailey) and (director of pitching) Justin Willard is to ‘throw nasty stuff in the zone,'” Abraham told Cotillo. “For him to be able to do that on a consistent basis, he can improve his strikeout rate, decrease his walk rate and stay away from barrels. I think if he’s able to do those things with an increase and tick-up in stuff, we’re looking at a guy who can make a huge impact in the future.”

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Featured image via Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports Images