CINCINNATI — Brock Stassi was on SportsCenter twice in three days. His tearful reaction on Thursday to making the Phillies spread rapidly across social media. It was even turned into a Twitter moment. His story — Stassi reached the majors after being a 33rd-round pick and playing in the minors for six seasons — was written by the major sports websites.
The Phillies rookie went viral. All before even playing in a major-league game.
"It's been crazy," Stassi said. "Tommy Joseph has been wearing me out every time. 'Oh so you just have to cry and you get whatever you want.' He's like, 'Thanks for crying' because we went to the Flyers game and they put us up in a box. 'Thanks for that. Thanks for shedding those tears.' It's been unbelievable. The feedback I've been getting from Philly fans has been incredible."
Stassi made his major-league debut Monday as a pinch-hitter on opening day. He walked, so he will have to wait for his first major-league at-bat.
"Standing on deck was a little more nerve-racking than when I was in the box," Stassi said. "Once I was in the box, I was all right. But being on deck, I was like 'All right. Here we go.' Standing on deck waiting to go up there, but once I got that first pitch I was fine."
The nerves returned after Reds pitcher Michael Lorenzen threw three straight balls. Third base coach Juan Samuel gave Stassi the green light, allowing him to swing if the pitch was close.
"My heart started pounding," Stassi said as he tapped his chest. "The pitch was a little low to where I like it so I didn't swing. But once I got the 3-0 green light, it kind of picked up a little bit."
The Phillies drafted Stassi in the 2011 draft with little thought that he would ever reach the majors. Stassi started his professional career as a reserve, backing up players who were drafted higher than him. But he kept grinding until he earned a role.
The 27-year-old was the double-A Eastern League MVP in 2015, three years after starting the 2012 season in extended spring training because the Phillies did not have a place for him on any minor-league teams. Stassi refused to quit. He reached triple A last season and reported in February to spring training, determined to make the Phillies. It was easy to see why his story went viral.
"People have been messaging me saying just how much of an inspiration I am and how they're going to tell their high school teams my story," Stassi said. "I was like, 'Wow.' I never expected any of that. It's awesome."
Stassi talked to SportsCenter by phone on Sunday morning and then boarded the team's charter plane to Cincinnati to add the next chapter to his story. Stassi was quick to reap the rewards of a major-league lifestyle.