Phillies underdog rookie makes opening day roster and feels all the emotions

This is an exciting time for baseball players. The regular season is about to start, which means rosters are being finalized and players on the fringe are finding out if they’ve secured a spot on the opening day roster. For some players, it’s routine. But for others, it’s their very first call-up to the majors, the realization of a hard-fought dream.

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Brock Stassi, a 27-year-old first baseman who has been toiling in the Philadelphia Phillies minor league system, found out on Thursday that he’d made the Phillies opening day roster. He’d be able to call himself a major leaguer for the very first time, and he was happy, amazed, proud, humbled, stunned… he was pretty much feeling every good emotion you could name.

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin has been in baseball for nearly 50 years, and he knew that this was a special day in Stassi’s life. So he didn’t beat around the bush when he called Stassi into his office to tell him the news.

Stassi wasn’t the only one who felt emotional. Mackanin told Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer “I got a little choked up, to be honest with you.”

Philadelphia Phillies' Brock Stassi bats against the New York Yankees in a spring training baseball game, Wednesday, March 15, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Philadelphia Phillies’ Brock Stassi bats against the New York Yankees in a spring training baseball game, Wednesday, March 15, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo)

And how could you not get choked up? Stassi’s got a classic baseball underdog story (not to mention an A+ baseball name). The Phillies took him in the 33rd round of the 2011 draft, gave him a $1000 signing bonus, and sent him to the minors. And his time in the minors was a roller coaster. He struggled initially, but seemed to break out in High-A ball in 2013. The next year in Double-A, he hit .232 and was nearly released. In the latter part of the 2016 season Stassi made some adjustments to his swing, and the results started to get him noticed. He hit .299 in winter ball, and then wowed the Phillies at spring training with a .333 average and a team-leading six home runs. And now he’s on the opening day roster.

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive accounting of Stassi’s journey, his brother Max, a catcher in the Houston Astros organization, has you covered.

Stassi’s days of substitute teaching are definitely over. He may not see a lot of playing time (he’s a first base fill-in and a bench bat), but he’ll get the chance to live the dream he fought so hard for. And that is one of the best things about baseball.

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher