Eau Claire, Wisc.- The Express have several former players currently playing in both minor league and major league baseball. Jordan Zimmermann and Kole Calhoun both enjoyed successful seasons at the major league level, while Paul Voelker shined at multiple levels in the minor leagues during the 2015 season.
Zimmermann, a native of Auburndale, WI started 33 games for the Washington Nationals and pitched 201.2 innings. He finished the season with a record of 13-10 and an earned run average of 3.66, while striking out 164 batters and a WHIP of 1.20. Zimmermann pitched for the Express in 2006 and was drafted in the second round by the Nationals in 2007. The former UW-Stevens Point student athlete is entering free agency and though a return to the Nationals is possible, many around baseball expect him to sign elsewhere. Zimmermann, who does not have a Twitter page, hinted at the fact he will not be returning to Washington D.C when he released a statement via his agents Twitter page right after the season.
“It’s difficult to put into words the feelings of appreciation I have for the love and support I’ve felt over the past seven years. Nationals fans treated my family and me like members of their own, never wavering, no matter the circumstances. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
For a kid from a small town in central Wisconsin, stepping on the mound and competing on the Major League level is a dream come true. It’s a dream, yet also a responsibility that I don’t take lightly. The same level of commitment and passion that you fans showed me every game I took the ball is what I placed in every pitch I tossed wearing a Nationals uniform. My only regret is that we were not able to bring a championship to the fans of this great city this season.
Although I may no longer wear the curly W on my head or on my chest, Nationals fans will always be in my heart. Thank you again for everything!”
Kole Calhoun, a member of the Eau Claire Express during 2007-2009 had a breakout year for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The right fielder played in 159 games, batting .256 while driving in 83 runs and belting 26 home runs. Calhoun also impressed with his glove in the outfield as he committed only 4 errors all season and is projected by many to be a finalist for or win a gold glove award. The Arizona State product was a finalist for a gold glove last year, but was edged out by then Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis. Calhoun was drafted in the 8th round of the 2010 draft by the Angels and has played his whole career in southern California.
The most outstanding minor league Express alumni player this summer was Paul Voelker, a pitcher in the Detroit Tigers system. Voelker pitched for the Express during the summers of 2012 and 2013 and was drafted by the Tigers in the 10th round of the 2014 MLB draft. This season Voelker pitched at three levels of the Tigers system: West Michigan (Single-A), Lakeland (Advanced Single-A), and Erie (Double-A). The former Dallas Baptist standout finished the year with a 6-1 record and a 2.11 ERA. He pitched 55.1 total innings, striking out 63 and totaled 18 saves between his three stops.
This season Nevin Ashley (2006) and Eddie Gamboa (2007) also spent brief time in the major leagues. For a full listing of all Express alumni including when players were drafted, fans can visit the alumni page under the “team” tab on the Express website.