Where Are They Now? Pat Neshek & Daniel Descalso
The Tale of Two Former Woodchucks: Pat Neshek & Daniel Descalso
On Tuesday, October 3rd baseball fans enjoyed an exciting National League Wild Card game – the Colorado Rockies vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks. The final score? 11-8 with the Diamondbacks advancing to the National League Divisional Series against the Dodgers.
For Wisconsin Woodchucks fans, this game was even more exciting with two former Woodchucks playing against each other. Pat Neshek (’00) went in to pitch for the Rockies and Daniel Descalso (’06) was the starting second baseman for the Diamondbacks. At one point, Neshek pitched to Descalso in the bottom of the 7th, creating a priceless moment in the MLB Postseason for ‘Chucks fans. Both Neshek and Descalso have seen plenty of success in their major league careers after having successful seasons in Wausau.
Pat Neshek was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 2002. The relief pitcher made his Major League debut in 2006 and finished the year with 53 strikeouts in 37 innings pitched. In 2007, his success on the mound was noticed by fans and he made it to the final round of voting for the MLB All-Star Game. He experienced a setback in 2008 when he had to undergo tommy john surgery for a torn ligament. Recovery was lengthy and Neshek was sent down to the minors. He returned to the majors in September 2010 and then was acquired by the San Diego Padres in 2011.
After the 2011 season, Neshek was a free agent and joined the Baltimore Orioles organization. For the Orioles, Neshek played Triple-A ball and was named International League Pitcher of the Week. The Oakland Athletic’s then traded for Neshek and immediately called him up to the majors again. He started the season well with a 2.34 ERA in his first 38 appearances into August. However, he gave up three runs apiece in two different appearances and was designated for assignment at the end of the month.
Neshek was a free agent once again and signed a minor league deal with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2014. After mixed performances in the past few seasons, Neshek worked hard in spring training to increase his velocity. His hard work paid off and he landed a spot on the Cardinals’ 25-man roster. Neshek was impressive as a set-up pitcher for Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal and made his first MLB All-Star Game. Prior to the All-Star break, he was 4–0 with two saves, a 0.70 ERA and 0.57 walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP).
Following his success with the St. Louis Cardinals, Neshek played for the Houston Astros (2015-2016) and the Philadelphia Phillies (2017). He made his second MLB all-Star Game in 2017 and then was acquired by the Colorado Rockies in a trade after the all-star break. He made his fifth postseason appearance with the Rockies. Neshek holds a 2.75 ERA and a 33-22 record in his MLB career.
As a Woodchuck in 2000, Neshek went 4-5 with a 3.23 ERA in 11 games. He also struck out 38 batters in 64 innings pitched. At the time, Neshek helped the Woodchucks to the best season in franchise history with a 34-29 record.
Daniel Descalso was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2007. He played in the minors from then until 2010 when he was called up. In 2009, Descalso was named the 2009 Springfield Cardinals Player of the Year. He also played for the gold medal winning team USA in the 2009 Baseball World Cup in Italy. He officially made his major league debut on September 18, 2010 as a pinch hitter.
Descalso secured a roster spot in 2011 and impressed as an infielder. That year, he was named a finalist for the Rawlings Golden Glove Award at third base for the National League and won the World Series. Descalso continued his success with the Cardinals from 2012-2014, joining the team in four straight postseason appearances. In 2014, Descalso became the first Cardinals player in team history to start a game at each of the four infield positions within the three consecutive days and four consecutive games.
After the 2014 season, Descalso became a free agent and signed a two-year deal with the Colorado Rockies. In 2017, he signed a one-year deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks and has since helped lead the team win the National League Wild Card Game vs. the Rockies with a 2-run home run in the bottom of the third inning. This is his fifth postseason appearance.
Descalso has a .240 batting average with 33 home runs in his MLB career, but more impressive is Descalso’s versatility on defense. He has played first base, second base, third base, and shortstop, and he has even come in as a relief pitcher.
As a Woodchuck in 2006, Descalso was an infielder. He had a .277 batting average, .399 on-base percentage, and 10 stolen bases.
We look forward to continuing to watch these players succeed at the Major League level and wish all former Woodchucks in the MLB postseason good luck!
The Wisconsin Woodchucks are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The 24-year-old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 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 180 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champion Ben Zobrist (CHC) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM) and Lucas Duda (NYM). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.woodchucks.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Woodchucks as your favorite team.