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Published On: October 17th, 2014

There have been plenty of great story lines during this past MLB regular and post season. Derek Jeter bid farewell to baseball in the only way a 14-time all-star and 5-time World Series champ could: with a walk off win in his last home game at Yankee Stadium.  The all-star game was held only an hour and a half from Eau Claire at Target Field in Minneapolis. And the Kansas City Royals have all baseball fans buzzing with their small payroll, old-school style of baseball, and their win streak that has sent them straight to the World Series. But for us here in Eau Claire, we have plenty to cheer and be excited about when it comes to our connections with Major League Baseball and the success of two former Express players in both the regular and post seasons.

Kole Calhoun (Eau Claire Express, 2007-2009) and Jordan Zimmermann (Eau Claire Express, 2006) were leaders on the Angels’ and Nationals’ rosters, respectively, this past season. Both players emerged as stars on teams filled with big names like Pujols, Weaver, Trout, Harper, Hamilton, and Werth; these two former Express standouts made a name for themselves with timely, consistent, and big-time play that helped propel their teams to the playoffs.

For Kole Calhoun, this season was somewhat of a breakout season, even though he has been a solid outfielder for the Angels for the past two years. This season, Calhoun hit .272 with 17 home runs, 58 RBI, and 90 runs scored batting primarily out of the lead-off spot. Calhoun played in 127 games this past season and hit, walked, and scrapped his way to a .325 on-base percentage.

Perhaps Calhoun’s biggest accomplishment was his play in the ALDS for the Angels versus the now-World-Series-bound Kansas City Royals. In only three games, Calhoun went 5-15 for the Angels and was heralded by many as the brightest offensive spot for the Angels in the series. Calhoun will look to continue his big-league success next year as he will likely be the starting right-fielder for the Angels as he has until 2017 before his contract is arbitration eligible.

Jordan Zimmermann’s 2014 was full of tremendous highlights, but none more tremendous than his final start of the season and his first and only start of the post-season. In this game, Zimmermann pitched the first no-hitter of his career and the first no-hitter in Nationals history. In a 1-0 win over the Marlins in the nation’s capital on September 28th, Zimmermann needed only 104 pitches to propel his Nationals into the playoffs. Zimmermann finished the game with 10 strikeouts and only one walk in what will likely be one of the top highlights of his career.

Zimmermann’s second gem in a row came only a few days later in game 2 of the NLDS vs. the San Francisco Giants. Zimmermann took a 1-0 lead to the ninth and walked the first batter he faced. Zimmermann was pulled from the game and the bullpen for the Nationals was unable to hold on to his stellar shutout performance giving up a run in the top of the ninth and a run in the top of the 18th in an epic extra inning game that helped San Francisco advance to the NLCS.

Zimmermann’s season was a successful one however as he had arguably the best season of his career going 14-5 on the season with a 2.66 ERA striking out 182 and walking only 29 on the season for a strikeout to walk ratio of 6.28. Zimmermann was selected to his second consecutive all-star game and continues to be one of the anchors on a young and very talented Nationals pitching staff.

Congratulations to two Express alumni for making their big league dreams come true and for making Eau Claire and the Chippewa Valley proud!