Three Former Woodchucks in MLB Postseason Play
Rochester, MN (October 3, 2013) – As the Major League Baseball Divisional Series games get set to start tonight 11 former NWL players are each hoping for their chance at a World Series ring. Playoff rosters have not all been set but the following players are assumed to be on rosters for the first round.
The American League Central Champion Detroit Tigers lead the way tied with the most former NWL players with three. Starting pitcher Max Scherzer (La Crosse ’04) had an incredible year this year for the Tigers. Scherzer went 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA. He also struck out 240 batters in 214.1 innings. Drew Smyly (Duluth ’09) has been a shut-down lefty out of the Bullpen all season and Andy Dirks (Brainerd ’06, ’07) has had a good year in left field.
The St. Louis Cardinals have two former NWL players on their current roster. Fourth year Major Leaguer Allen Craig (Alexandria ’03,’05) had a good year again this season before being injured. Craig is suffering from a Lisfranc injury in his left foot that already caused him to miss most of the final month of the regular season. Craig hit .315 with a .830 OPS over the regular season. He was also named to his first All Star team but he will likely miss the entire postseason.Daniel Descalso (Wisconsin ’06), playing in his third full Major League season, will be the starter at shortstop with a regular season .964 fielding percentage.
After defeating the Cincinnati Reds and former NWL alums Sam LeCure (Brainerd ’05) and Jack Hannahan (Mankato ’99) for the National League Wild Card earlier in the week the Pittsburgh Pirates are in the NLDS with three former NWL players. Clint Barmes (Kenosha ’98, Waterloo ’99-’00), Mark Melancon (Duluth ’04) and Tony Sanchez (Battle Creek ’07) are all expected to be on the roster. Melancon replaced Jason Grilli as the Pirates closer for a portion of the season before giving the reigns back to Grilli in the final weeks. Sanchez was called up in late June and was recalled again once rosters expanded. Barmes is the elder statesman of the three and is the second oldest former NWL player to debut in Major League baseball still playing at the Major League level.
The Oakland Athletics are once again in the playoffs after winning the American League West Crown. Second year starting pitcher Dan Straily (St. Cloud ’09) was up and down this season between the A’s and AAA Sacramento. Straily had a good season at the Major League level and is slated to start game 4 of the ALDS. Veteran reliever Pat Neshek (Wisconsin ’00) was also on the final roster for the Athletics and has a good chance of being named to the postseason roster.
The National League West Champion Los Angeles Dodgers and the American League Wild Card winning Tampa Bay Rays each have one former Northwoods League alum on their rosters. Andre Ethier (Rochester ’02) has had an up and down year for the Dodgers plagued by injury in the final weeks. He was able to hit .272 over 142 games while driving in 52 runs. Ben Zobrist (Wisconsin ’03) hit .275 in 157 games while driving in 71 runs and stealing 11 bases for the Rays.
The Wisconsin Woodchucks are a member of the finest development league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 21st season of summer collegiate baseball, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 115 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including MLB All-Stars Max Scherzer (DET), Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYY), Allen Craig (STL) and Ben Zobrist (TB). All league games are viewable live and free of charge via the Northwoods League YouTube Channel. Click the link below to watch live Northwoods League action!
For more information on your Wisconsin Woodchucks, visit www.woodchucks.com!