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.
Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.