Daniel Descalso
Daniel Descalso on June 29, 2011.jpg
Descalso with the Cardinals in 2011
Free agent
Born: (1986-10-19) October 19, 1986 (age 35)
Redwood City, California
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
MLB debut
September 18, 2010, for the St. Louis Cardinals
MLB statistics
(through 2019 season)
Batting average.235
Home runs48
Runs batted in294
Career highlights and awards

Daniel William Descalso (born October 19, 1986) is an American professional baseball utility player who is currently a free agent. The St. Louis Cardinals drafted him in the third round of the 2007 Major League Baseball draft from the University of California, Davis, and he made his MLB debut for the Cardinals in 2010. He later played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago Cubs

Early life

Italian-American Descalso was born in Redwood City, California,[1] on October 19, 1986, to Marylou and George Descalso.[2] He is the oldest of six children.[3] He played baseball in San Carlos Little League[4] and went to Saint Francis High School in Mountain View, California.[5] He pitched as the team's number 1 starter for three straight seasons, and played 2nd base.[3] He made the All-Central Coast Section squads twice, including first team as a senior, second team as a junior. He made the West Catholic Athletic League first teams in each of last two seasons, including WCAL MVP distinction in 2004. He also played football, winning first-team All-WCAL, second-team All-CCS and honorable mention All-Metro as a senior. He scored three touchdowns against their crosstown rivals during 2003 Homecoming game. He graduated in 2004.[6]

Descalso with the UC Davis Aggies in 2007
Descalso with the UC Davis Aggies in 2007

Descalso went on to UC Davis, where he played third base and majored in economics.[2] In 2007, Descalso was named to the NCAA All-Independent First Team.[7] He put up some of the best stats ever at UC Davis, with a .397 lifetime batting average and 92 career hits. His 22 doubles rank second all-time in school history.[8] Following his junior year, he was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 3rd round (112th overall)[9] of the 2007 amateur entry draft. He was selected in the highest draft position ever for an Aggie player.[8]

He is 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) and 190 pounds.[10]

Professional career

St. Louis Cardinals

2007 and 2008 seasons

Following the draft, Descalso began his professional career with the Batavia Muckdogs, the Short-Season A affiliate of the Cardinals in the New York–Penn League. He played 69 games for the Muckdogs in 2007, splitting time between third base and second base.[11]

In 2008, Descalso began with the Palm Beach Cardinals, the High-A affiliate of the Cardinals in the Florida State League. He played 115 games in Jupiter, where he batted .243 and played shortstop, 2nd base, and 3rd base. In August 2008, he was advanced to the Springfield Cardinals, the Double-A affiliate in Missouri. He played in just 9 games, but hit .351.

2009 season

In 2009 with Springfield, Descalso had eight home runs and 51 runs batted in with 288 at-bats over 73 games, all at second base. His line was an impressive .323/.396/.531. At the end of the 2009 season, he was named to the Double-A Texas League post-season all star team. However, he did not play in that game, instead was promoted to Triple-A Memphis in early July when Jarrett Hoffpauir was recalled by the Cardinals. After the call up, Descalso played most games at 2nd base, with 9 at 1st base.

Descalso was also named the 2009 Springfield Cardinals Player of the Year. He missed final two weeks of 2009 season to play for the gold medal winning team USA in the 2009 Baseball World Cup in Italy.[12]

2010 season

The Cardinals invited Descalso to the 2010 spring camp, where he batted .500 with nine runs batted in during 14 games.[12] Through the first two months of the 2010 season, he exclusively played second base.[11]

On September 18, Descalso's contract was purchased by the Cardinals and he was promoted to the major leagues.[13] He officially made his major league debut on September 18, 2010, at home against the San Diego Padres when he was announced as a pinch hitter (although he did not bat and was replaced by right-handed batter Nick Stavinoha).[14] His first game as a starter was on September 22, 2010, against the Pirates at their park, where he garnered his first hit and first run batted in with a two-run double. It was at third base, rather than his usual second base position.[14] Nonetheless, his first MLB career fielding attempt was the front end of a 6–4–3 double play (Descalso-SchumakerPujols). He finished the year solidly, and remained on the 40-man roster.

2011 season

Daniel during the 2011 World Series parade
Daniel during the 2011 World Series parade

Because of his late season performance, Descalso started the 2011 spring training with a legitimate chance to make the Cardinals. However, the Cards had a number of capable infielders fighting for roster spots, including David Freese, Tyler Greene, Double-A prospect Matt Carpenter, and off-season acquisitions Ryan Theriot and Nick Punto.[15] The difficulties were in determining a position and securing a spot. An injury to Punto[16] and questions about Freese's durability left the Cards desperate for an extra utility infielder rather than an outfielder. Ultimately, Descalso secured a roster spot out of training camp.[17]

Descalso hit his first major league home run on May 3 in St. Louis in the 7th inning. The three-run blast was a game winner that vaulted the Cardinals to a come-from-behind 7–5 win against the Florida Marlins.[18] In a July 7 game against the Cincinnati Reds, he stroked four hits with two runs batted in.[19]

Following the 2011 season, Descalso was a finalist for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award at third base for the National League, although the honor was later awarded to Plácido Polanco of the Philadelphia Phillies.[20]


Descalso batting in Game 3 of the NLDS against the Washington Nationals. October 10, 2012
Descalso batting in Game 3 of the NLDS against the Washington Nationals. October 10, 2012

After playing regularly at second base during the 2012 season, Descalso played an integral role in the postseason. In Game 5 of the 2012 National League Division Series, where the Cardinals came back from a 6-run deficit to defeat the Washington Nationals 9–7, Descalso homered, doubled, and then hit a two-run single to tie the game.[21]

On May 21, 2013, Decalso hit his first career grand slam and tallied a career-high five runs batted in as the Cardinals beat the San Diego Padres 10–2 at Petco Park.[22] Prior to the game, Descalso was batting just .197 with one home run.[22] For his 2013 season statistics, Descalso batted .238 with five home runs and 42 runs batted in. He continued his versatility in the infield by making starts at second base, third base, and shortstop.

Descalso filed for a $1.65 million contract request following the season. The Cardinals and Descalso avoided arbitration and agreed to a one-year, $1.29 million contract on January 30, 2014.[23] Descalso made his major league pitching debut against the Chicago Cubs in the top of the ninth inning with two outs on May 12, 2014. He threw two pitches, recording one out and allowing no hits. With a chance for increased playing time during interleague play against the Baltimore Orioles, he collected five hits in 10 at bats over an August 8–10 series.[24]

Within the three consecutive days and four consecutive games, August 30 through September 1, 2014, Descalso became the first Cardinal player in history to start a game at each of the four infield positions as follows; Saturday August 30, vs. Chicago Cubs (game 1) 2B, Saturday August 30, vs. Chicago Cubs (game 2) SS, Sunday August 31, vs. Chicago Cubs 1B, Monday, September 1, vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, 3B.[25][26][27][28]

Descalso pitching for the Cardinals in 2014
Descalso pitching for the Cardinals in 2014

Colorado Rockies

Descalso signed a two-year deal with the Colorado Rockies on December 16, 2014. The deal totaled $3.6 million with the opportunity for another $1 million in performance bonuses.[29] Descalso appeared in 101 games in 2015, hitting a career worst .205 with five home runs and 22 runs batted in. Descalso began the 2016 season on the disabled list with a broken hand suffered in spring training.[30] In 2016, Descalso appeared in 99 games, bouncing back offensively by hitting .264 with a career-high 8 home runs and 38 runs batted in. Descalso served as a veteran presence on the Rockies,[31] while also filling an important utility role, receiving time at six different positions over the course of his two seasons at Colorado.

Arizona Diamondbacks

On February 7, 2017, Descalso signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks with an option for 2018, and entered a heated competition for a bench spot on Opening Day.[32] On April 30, 2017 Descalso hit a two-run home run for his first walk off against the Colorado Rockies. Descalso ended the season with a slash line of .233/.332/.395 while setting career highs with ten home runs and 51 runs batted in.

The Diamondbacks picked up Descalso's option and he returned to the team in 2018.[33] On May 4, 2018, Descalso pitched the top of the ninth inning after the pitcher was removed with one out. On 7 pitches (6 for strikes) Descalso retired the last two Astros hitters.[34]

Chicago Cubs

On December 18, 2018, Descalso signed a two-year contract worth $5 million with the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs have a $3.5 million option in 2021 with a $1 million buyout.[35] After 25 games into the 2019 season, Descalso was a solid second base presence and often was the lead-off batter in games. He had 19 hits in 71 at bats with 10 base on balls, 10 runs batted in and a batting average of .268. It did not continue past the first 25 games though. He cooled off and finished the year with a .173 average and did not start in a game after June 30. Descalso was shut down to begin the 2020 season with a left ankle sprain and ended up missing the entire season due to the injury.[36]

Minnesota Twins

On May 13, 2021, Descalso signed a minor league contract with the Minnesota Twins organization and was assigned to the Triple-A St. Paul Saints.[37] On June 22, Descalso opted out of his minor league contract with Minnesota and became a free agent.[38] In 24 games with the Saints, Descalso limped to an .093/.244/.200 batting line with 2 home runs and 4 RBI.

Personal life

Descalso is married to Julia and has three kids: Emilia, Luca and Dominic. In December 2021 a baseball fan and memorabilia collector named John Silva realized a baseball of unknown origin in his collection was the ball from Descalso's very first major league hit and he returned the ball to Descalso.[39]


  1. ^ Daniel Descalso Stats, Bio, Photos, Highlights MLB.com, (accessed September 24, 2010)
  2. ^ a b Descalso Player Profile Archived January 5, 2011, at the Wayback Machine ucdavisaggies.com (accessed May 30, 2010)
  3. ^ a b Schwab, Matt Descalso the go-to guy for powerhouse St. Francis SFGate.com (accessed May 30, 2010)
  4. ^ "Descalso makes an immediate impact". 2011. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  5. ^ Walton, Brian (June 15, 2007). "Cardinals Again Fly with Frontier". scout.com. Archived from the original on August 29, 2008. Retrieved May 21, 2009.
  6. ^ Descalso '04 was honored at Hot Stove Archived July 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine sfhs.com (accessed May 30, 2010)
  7. ^ "Descalso Taken By Cardinals In the Major League Baseball Draft". CBS College Sports. June 7, 2007. Retrieved May 21, 2009.
  8. ^ a b Descalso Taken By Cardinals In the Major League Baseball Draft ucdavisaggies.com (accessed May 30, 2010)
  9. ^ Walton, Brian (January 13, 2008). "Best of the Rest… of Cards Prospects". scout.com. Archived from the original on May 13, 2008. Retrieved May 21, 2009.
  10. ^ "St. Louis Sports – Dan Descalso". Stltoday.stats.com. October 19, 1986. Retrieved October 9, 2011.
  11. ^ a b "Daniel Descalso Minor League Statistics & History". Baseball-Reference.com. October 19, 1986. Retrieved September 18, 2010.
  12. ^ a b Morgan, Marlon Redbirds' Daniel Descalso wants clutch situations Commercial Appeal, May 3, 2010 (accessed May 30, 2010)
  13. ^ Wilhelm, David (September 18, 2010). "Cardinals promote five players from Class AAA Memphis – Breaking news". bnd.com. Archived from the original on May 20, 2020. Retrieved September 18, 2010.
  14. ^ a b Leach, Matthew Descalso makes debut start at third MLB.com, September 22, 2010 (accessed September 22, 2010)
  15. ^ Leach, Matthew Cards' additions look to make impact in 2011[permanent dead link] mlb.com, February 6, 2011 (accessed March 28, 2011)
  16. ^ Strauss, Joe Punto returns to Planet Jupiter stltoday.com, February 28, 2011 (accessed March 28, 2011)
  17. ^ Goold, Derrick Cards cut Salas, Stavinoha; opening day roster set stltoday.com, March 28, 2011 (accessed March 28, 2011)
  18. ^ Descalso's first homer lifts Cards over Marlins, MLB.com (May 3, 2011)
  19. ^ "Reds 9, Cardinals 8 boxscore". MLB.com. July 7, 2011. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
  20. ^ Rob Rains, "Four Cardinals are finalists for Gold Glove awards–Update: Molina Wins" Archived February 3, 2013, at archive.today, StLSportsPage, October 31, 2011
  21. ^ Jayson Stark, "Comeback Cards do it again", ESPN MLB, October 13, 2012
  22. ^ a b "Descalso hits slam, Wainwright wins for 1st time at Petco Park as Cardinals beat Padres 10-2". The Washington Post. Associated Press. May 21, 2013. Archived from the original on December 19, 2018. Retrieved May 22, 2013.
  23. ^ Hummel, Rick (January 30, 2014). "Cards, Descalso agree to $1.29 million deal". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved February 2, 2014.
  24. ^ Langosch, Jenifer (August 10, 2014). "Cards' offense turns tables on O's in finale win". MLB.com. Retrieved August 10, 2014.
  25. ^ "MLB.com Gameday". mlb.com.
  26. ^ "MLB.com Gameday". mlb.com.
  27. ^ "MLB.com Gameday". mlb.com.
  28. ^ "MLB.com Gameday". mlb.com.
  29. ^ Crasnick, Jerry (December 16, 2014). "Daniel Descalso joins Rockies". ESPN.com.
  30. ^ Saunders, Patrick (March 15, 2016). "Daniel Descalso, Rockies utility infielder, out with small break in hand". Denver Post.
  31. ^ Kosmider, Nick (September 13, 2016). "Rockies manager Walt Weiss praises impact of veterans Nick Hundley, Daniel Descalso and Mark Reynolds". Denver Post.
  32. ^ Piecoro, Nick (February 7, 2017). "Arizona Diamondbacks sign Daniel Descalso, adding a lefty hitter". The Arizona Republic.
  33. ^ "D-backs pick up Daniel Descalso's '18 option". MLB.com. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  34. ^ Box score at www.mlb.com and attendance at the game at Chase Field.
  35. ^ Bastain, Jordan (December 18, 2018). "Cubs agree to two-year deal with Descalso". MLB.com. MLB. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  36. ^ "Cubs' Daniel Descalso: Shut down with ankle sprain".
  37. ^ "Twins Sign Daniel Descalso to Minor League Deal".
  38. ^ "Daniel Descalso: Opts out of minor-league contract".
  39. ^ "Lost and found: The far-fetched journey a treasured baseball took from Descalso's bat and back into his hands 11 years later".