The 26-year-old Thornton was playing for the Pirates' Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2014 season. Drafted by the Athletics in the twenty-third round of the 2010 amateur draft, he spent last year with the Pirates' Triple-A affiliate. Bucs Dugout pegged him as a potential Rule 5 pick back over the winter. Here's what they said about Thornton at the time:
Clearly, it wouldn't be a shock if someone took Thornton -- he spent most of last season in the high minors, and his numbers jump off the page, with 90 strikeouts against just 12 walks in 75.1 innings, plus a good ground ball rate. Thornton also got good results in the Arizona Fall League. He isn't exactly a flamethrower like a lot of Pirates relievers are, but he does throw 92-93 MPH, so he isn't getting his minor-league results with craft alone.
Thornton did not crack the Pirates' top twenty prospects over at Minor League Ball before the season. Of course, the Mets' last trade with the Pirates also featured a player to be named later. Perhaps this player to be named later will be more exciting than Thornton.