A simple text message had a big impact on Nate Fassnacht Tuesday night.
Before notes of congratulations could flow in from friends and family, Fassnacht had a very important message from the Philadelphia Phillies — the squad had selected the Ephrata graduate on the second day of the Major League Baseball Draft.
Fassnacht, who grew up a Phillies fan, was drafted in the eighth round with the 240th overall pick.
“I don't think it's hit me yet,” Fassnacht said over the phone while gathered in Washington D.C with his family watching the draft. “It's been a dream my whole life, growing up playing ball and everything, to be drafted and play professionally. I don't think it's going to hit me until I actually report and get down there and start playing.”
“Down there” is the Phillies' Spectrum Complex in Clearwater, Florida. While Fassnacht doesn't know the exact timetable yet, he expects to leave within the week for initial workouts and get his minor league assignment.
The current National League East leaders were one of a handful of teams that had been in touch with Fassnacht during his junior season at George Washington, and it's not hard to see why he caught the Phillies' attention.
On defense, the third-year starting shortstop committed just five errors and helped turn 12 double plays, but it was on offense where Fassnacht really shined.
The 21-year-old was the only Division I player in the country to finish in the top 50 in all eight offensive categories, earning him Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and George Washington Team MVP honors. He hit .372 and led the league in five different categories including RBIs (60) and runs scored (59), and broke a school record with 23 doubles.
Fassnacht was quick to credit GW head coach Gregg Ritchie — a former hitting coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates — with his offensive growth, but also contributed his success to additional work in the offseason, focusing on his swing and simplifying his attack at the plate.
That work ethic is something Fassnacht's high school coach Adrian Shelley is very familiar with.
“They deserve credit,” Shelley said of the GW coaching staff, “but, ultimately, Nate's the guy who made it happen. Nate is one of the hardest workers that I've ever seen. He's a guy that's worked his tail off to get to where he's at, so I tip my cap to him.”
Fassnacht's hard work paid off at Ephrata as well, where he was named to the “Sweet 16” All-League team as a senior after batting .444 with two homers, 11 RBIs and 22 runs scored. The Mounts capped off that 2016 season by winning the District Three Class 4A championship.
''He's always had a gifted skill set,” Shelley said of Fassnacht. “He went through a number of ailments and we always said if he can avoid injury, the sky's the limit.”
“He plays the game exceptionally hard,” Shelley continued, “and when your play the game that hard — and every time he take the field it's 100% — you run the risk of injury. But that's the only way he know how to play. While that also risks injury, it's also one of the ways to punch your ticket to the next level.”
George Washington’s 22nd overall MLB selection, Fassnacht is now the fourth Ephrata graduate drafted since 1994 .
“The whole thing is kind of crazy because I had a couple of teams say they were going to take me earlier and then it didn't happen,” Fassnacht admitted. “But then I ended up getting the call from the Phillies and the offer and everything, so it all worked out.”