Two young men from two different walks of life were both greeted with four words embodying endless opportunity this week during the MLB amateur draft.
"The Detroit Tigers select ..."
Surrounded by immediate family, Crowley, Texas, native Drew Smith wasn't quite sure what to expect leading into day two of the draft.
"There was a chance I was going to be drafted on the first day late in the second round," Smith said. "When that didn't happen, I was hoping for a quick call on day two."
The focal point of growth for Detroit was clear in the form of the Tigers' first-round selection, right-handed pitcher Beau Burrows. With obvious nerves continuing to build, Smith and his family looked on to see outfielder Christin Stewart and left handed pitcher Tyler Alexander picked to wear the Old English D in the first and second rounds.
"We just sat around in the living room and waited patiently and watched a few teams pass who we thought were really interested," Smith recalled.
Since beginning to place serious focus on pitching at the age of 14, Smith developed admiration for two household names who have shown they know a thing or two about commanding the hill.
"I am a huge Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander fan," Smith said. His reasons for admiration are pretty straight forward. "It's pretty simple: winning," Smith said. "Obviously that's the most important thing when it comes to baseball, and they both have an outstanding track record of doing just that."
Following in the footsteps of the pitching legends, the 6-foot-2 right hander didn't have to do much to draw attention once word spread of tipping the radar gun at 99 miles per hour. The easy-going Texan spent three seasons at Dallas Baptist University, logging 70 strikeouts over 95 innings pitched with 52 walks scattered throughout.
As round three of the draft commenced, the Smith family couldn't have asked for better news.
"When the Tigers finally called my name, I couldn't have been more thrilled," Smith said. "My dad has it on video. He freaked out and jumped up and yelled and hugged me. I jumped out of my chair and was kind of quiet, just because I was still in a little bit of shock."
Still riding the high of the events, the avid fisherman is anticipating a bright future; one he plans to fight for every step of the way.
"I pride myself on working hard," Smith said. "I don't want to just make it, I want to be great."
For another family, though not their first time experiencing the thrill of the draft, the opportunity to continue a tradition proved to be as fresh as the first go round.
Though Ryan Castellanos is no stranger to the inner workings of draft day, after being selected in the 34th round of the 2012 draft by the Chicago White Sox, this chapter held its own significance and he was in no way immune to the nervous energy of the experience.
"It was a combination of a lot of emotions," Castellanos said. "A little bit of anxiety and stress, but most of all I was excited."
One of three children to Jorge and Michelle Castellanos, the 6-foot-3 righthander out of Nova Southeastern University has unquestionably inherited strong baseball genes, following in the footsteps of older brother and current Detroit Tigers third baseman, Nick Castellanos.
"He's showed me that giving 100 percent every day is what it takes to succeed, especially in this game," Ryan Castellanos said. "He's always telling me about the grind the minor leagues requires, and how to approach the game on a daily basis."
Though he may be mastering a completely different position than his older brother, the lessons learned by Nick have been just as vital for growth to the journey through the game for his younger brother.
"I've really tried to model his work ethic. And that work ethic is what I bring," Ryan said. "I bring a competitiveness on the mound that cannot be taught."
That determination led the Sharks' righty to a 9-3 record, combined with 61 strikeouts through 97 innings of work, and a 3.23 ERA.
The waiting game was a bit more drawn out for the Castellanos family, but in no time, the 25th round began. As Ryan began to listen to his name be read out over the speaker, there was something oddly familiar about the voice reading off the proclamation.
"Honestly hearing my brother say my name was the best part of today," Castellanos said. "Being drafted was definitely an amazing honor, but Nick and I grew up playing baseball together, and to hear him be the one to make it all official was unbelievable and a moment I will never forget."
As the Tigers made the news official, there was more than one reason for celebration in the Castellanos family, as Jorge and Michelle were elated at the news.
"My dad has already made the "I don't need to buy another team's jersey comment" But it means everything to them," Castellanos said.
To his mother, Michelle, it was something truly special.
"First thing she said when she called me was "Both of my boys are Tigers," Ryan Castellanos recalls. "She was using her holding-back-tears voice too, I could tell."
The journey is far from final for any of the draftees into the Tigers' organization, but to Castellanos and Smith, the goal remains the same.
"Once you stop having fun, there's not really any point to continue playing," Castellanos said. "It is an honor and a blessing to be able to call a game your job."