6/7/2014 11:35 P.M. ET
Denato continues to prove people wrong
By Erik Bacharach / MLB.com
Joey Denato is in the business of proving people wrong.
At 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, Denato was one of the smallest players drafted by Philadelphia in 2014. And his 562nd selection in the 19th round is not reflective of the 13-1, 1.82 ERA season he flashed as a senior at Indiana. Then again, people have been challenging Denato for a while now.
Indiana head coach Tracey Smith recruited Denato out of Torrey Pines High School in San Diego, and never envisioned the left-hander to be a high-strikeouts guy. In fact, he even put his money where his mouth was, and told Denato he would increase Indiana's scholarship offer if Denato showed him he could get swings and misses.
On the day Smith went to San Diego to watch Denato pitch, he fanned 14 batters. Smith upped the scholarship offer from 40 percent of a full scholarship to 60 percent.
Denato's flair for the remarkable was a hallmark during his career at IU. Perhaps the quintessential instance came on June 15, 2013. Denato had tossed a gem -- seven innings of shutout ball against Louisville in Indiana's first ever College World Series. After 115 pitches, everyone assumed Denato was finished for the night -- that is, everyone except Denato. Twenty-one pitches later, Denato walked off the mound, with his shutout in the books.
Drafted in 13th round, Thornhill looks like proven winner
Nathan Thornhill was selected by the Astros in the 24th round of the 2013 First-Year Play Draft, but elected to remain a Texas Longhorn for his senior season with one goal in mind: a return to the College World Series.
Thornhill, who was drafted in the 13th round by the Phillies this year, got a taste of College World Series action as a freshman. After Texas failed to punch a ticket to Omaha, Neb., during his sophomore and junior seasons, Thornhill was hungry for one more crack at it.
The right-handed pitcher is doing exactly what he set out to do by returning to Texas. On Friday, he twirled seven innings of two-run ball against Houston to move the Longhorns to within a game of advancing. And by winning Saturday's contest, Texas has returned to the College World Series for the first time since 2011.
As Philly looks to end its own postseason drought, it has targeted proven winners like Thornhill in this year's Draft.
"To pitch here and to pitch well and to put us back in the championship caliber, we need guys [who are winners]," Phillies assistant general manager of amateur scouting Marti Wolever said on Thursday.
Stankiewicz's baseball ties run deep
Baseball has always been in Drew Stankiewicz's blood.
The 11th-round draft selection of the Phillies, Stankiewicz didn't get his start at Arizona State University as the star shortstop he has blossomed into today. His first contributions to ASU weren't even the 18 hits he accumulated as a freshman. No, Stankiewicz's first exposure to the Sun Devils was as their bat boy in 2007.
Andy Stankiewicz, Drew's father, was an assistant coach at ASU from 2007-2009. Determined to have his son carve his own path, Andy was the biggest supporter of his son signing his National Letter of Intent to play at Cal State Fullerton.
But when coach Dave Serrano left Cal State Fullerton, freeing Stankiewicz of his commitment to the Titans, Stankiewicz saw ASU as a viable option, with his father no longer a coach there. The former bat boy would go on to post a .305 career batting average as a Sun Devil.
Stankiewicz's father played seven years in the Major Leagues from 1992-1998 for the New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Montreal Expos and Arizona Diamondbacks. But as Drew Stankiewicz looks to make a name for himself, he'll be able to don a color his father has never worn -- Phillies red.
Flacco selected by Phils, but may stick with football
Growing up in the shadow of a famous older sibling can be a lot to live up to, but it hasn't been a problem thus far for Tom Flacco.
Tom, the younger brother of Baltimore Raven's starting quarterback Joe Flacco, has made for himself at Eastern High School in New Jersey. The 19-year-old was drafted by the Phillies in the 32nd round with the 952nd overall pick.
But Flacco was hoping to be selected on Friday, the second day of the Draft, between the third and 10th rounds. His status as a late-round pick will most likely not be enough to sway the budding college football quarterback to sign and play baseball. The 6-foot-1, 187-pounder has a football scholarship offer from Western Michigan.
Although he's probably bound for a life inside the huddle, Flacco won't rule out signing with the Phillies until he's had more talks with the organization.
Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.