Thornton, 27, ventures into coaching following five seasons as a pitcher in professional baseball including two with the RailCats. Originally selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 21st in the 2006 Major League Entry Draft, Thornton spent one season at Low-A Oneonta of the New York-Pennsylvania League and earned a 2-4 record with a 3.33 ERA in 51.1 innings. The durable left-hander made 20 starts for the RailCats in 2009 and ranked third in the Northern League with eight wins.
A pitching star at Notre Dame, Thornton won 27 games in a four-year career for the Fighting Irish, was a Second Team All-Big East selection as a junior and was named Notre Dame’s co-captain as a senior. Thornton was a star on and off the field during his four years, and became the first Irish baseball player to be honored with the Chris Zorich Award recognizing community service excellence, along with a number of other team awards in 2006. On the field, Thornton was Notre Dame’s top starter on a 2006 team that included Chicago Cubs right-hander and Valparaiso native Jeff Samardzija, going 7-3 with a 3.94 ERA as a senior.