Things started changing for Daniel Descalso in August.
A third-round selection by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2007 MLB Draft, the former UC Davis standout was hitting just .243 when he was promoted from High-A Palm Beach (Fla.) to Double-A Springfield (Mo.).
He responded nicely, reaching base 16 times in nine games en route to a .351 average in 42 plate appearances.
“I really started to put things together at the end of last year,” Descalso said. “I just tried to keep it really simple, hit the ball up the middle.”
Wait until you see what he’s been doing this season.
Descalso has been hitting the ball all over the place. The San Carlos, Calif. native ranks second in the Texas League in doubles (13), second in triples (four), second in total bases (79), fourth in hits (49), fifth in batting average (.355) and fifth in RBI (26).
Not bad offensive production coming from your second baseman to say the least.
“Good things have been happening so far,” Descalso said. “I’ve been finding holes. I’m not really looking to change anything.“
Descalso did make some changes at the end of last season, though, albeit small ones.
A left-handed hitter, Descalso said he started retooling his swing a bit toward the end of his stint in Palm Beach. It’s still the same line-drive approach he used to hit .397 his junior season at UC Davis, but with some slight modifications.
“A lot of stuff I did in college just didn’t translate over my first year-and-a-half or so,” Descalso said. “I had to find other things to work for me. I’ve just been trying to drive balls into the gaps and put good swings on the ball.
“My job is to have good at-bats for us, spray the ball around the field.… I’m just trying to stay within myself. Once I got comfortable with that, things started to fall into place for me.“
Hits aren’t the only things falling into place for Descalso. The Cardinals‘ organizational depth – or lack thereof – at second base works in his favor, too.
Descalso is the best second base prospect in the St. Louis system. He’s been on fire all season. The Cardinals‘ current second baseman, Skip Schumaker, is in his fifth year with the big club. He spent the first four in the outfield, though, and hadn’t ever taken a ground ball at second prior to the start of the season.
While Descalso may not be ready for the big leagues just yet, his path to Busch Stadium and the St. Louis lineup is becoming clearer and clearer with each of his Texas League swings.
“I can’t control what happens above me,” Descalso said. “All I can do is go out and keep playing like I’ve been playing. If I do that, I think everything should take care of itself.… Maybe I can push some of those guys that are up above me.“
All that separates Descalso from the big leagues is a trip to Triple-A Memphis (Tenn.). He could be moving to – and through – there sooner than later if the hits keep falling for him.
Has it hit him how close he is to realizing his dream of being a Major League Baseball player?
“Yeah. Yeah, I guess it has,” Descalso said. “I got to be a backup at a couple big league games during spring training – got into a game against the Red Sox. Being up there, being around those guys – you start to realize, ‘Hey, I’m pretty close.‘”
If Descalso can keep playing like this, he’ll be that much closer.
ADAM LOBERSTEIN will not be playing second base for the Cardinals anytime soon. He’ll be covering the Oakland A’s for MLB.com this summer if that counts for anything, though. He can be reached at email@example.com.