(Wausau, WI) – With the Major League Baseball playoffs set to start today, 15 former Northwoods League players, including 3 former Woodchucks, will be looking to help lead their team to a World Series title. The following players were all on their team’s roster when the regular season ended. (Note, playoff rosters have not yet been set).
The St. Louis Cardinals feature former Woodchuck Daniel Descalso (2006). Descalso appeared in 149 games for the Cards, playing mostly 2nd base, hitting 4 home runs and driving in 26 runs. Two former Woodchuck pitchers also made big contributions to their team’s playoff runs. Pat Neshek (2000) and Mark Lowe (2002, ‘03) will be looking to help their teams go deep into the postseason. Neshek appeared in 24 games for the Oakland Athletics, posting a 2-1 record with an ERA of 1.37. Lowe, in his 7th Major League season, pitched in 36 games for the Texas Rangers. He had a 3.43 ERA with 28 strikeouts during that time.
The Cardinals and Athletics also feature other NWL Alum on their rosters. The Cardinals have third year Major Leaguer Allen Craig (Alexandria ‘03 and ’05) while the Athletics called up Dan Straily (St. Cloud ’09) in August.
The American League Central Champion Detroit Tigers lead the way with the most former NWL players with five. Starting pitchers Max Scherzer (La Crosse ’04) and Drew Smyly (Duluth ’09) have been key parts of the Detroit rotation throughout the season. Danny Worth (Alexandria ’06), Andy Dirks (Brainerd ’06 and ’07) and Bryan Holaday (Alexandria ’08) have also made significant contributions during the 2012 campaign.
The National League East Division Champion Washington Nationals are powered in both their starting rotation and bullpen with two former NWL stars. Jordan Zimmerman (Eau Claire ’06) has put together a second solid full MLB season in the Nationals rotation and Tom Gorzelanny (St. Cloud ’01) in his 8th full Major League season, has also put up impressive numbers coming out of the bullpen.
In the American League East the Division Champion New York Yankees have two former NWL players on their current roster. Curtis Granderson (Mankato ’01) leads the way for the Yankees as he recently hit his 43rd HR of the season to complete his second 40 HR season in a row. Casey McGehee (St. Cloud ’01) has also contributed this season for the Yankees after being acquired from Pittsburgh earlier in the season.
The National League West Champion San Francisco Giants and the National League Central Champion Reds each have one former NWL player on their roster. Brandon Crawford (Mankato ’05) the second year shortstop for the Giants played in 143 games this season. Reds 3rd year relief pitcher Sam LeCure (Brainerd ’05) has been tremendous out of the bullpen for Cincinnati.
With the conclusion of the 2012 regular season 95 former Northwoods League players have debuted in Major League Baseball. The Northwoods League has more teams, plays more games, and draws more fans than any other Summer Collegiate Baseball League in North America. The League has 16 teams in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, and Ontario. The Northwoods League will celebrate its’ 20th season in 2013.