Descalso: AFL Award Finalist and AA All-Star

St. Louis Cardinals second base prospect Daniel Descalso is recognized twice.

It was a big day Wednesday for St. Louis Cardinals second base prospect Daniel Descalso, currently playing with the Arizona Fall League's Surprise Rafters, as he received a pair of honors.

The 23-year-old was announced as his team's nominee for the Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award, annually given to the AFL player who best exemplifies unselfishness, hard work and leadership.

Descalso, selected by the Cardinals in the third round of the 2007 draft from the University of California - Davis, is batting just .220 in 82 at bats over 21 games this fall.

The manager and coaches from each of the six Arizona Fall League teams selected the nominees. The winner will be announced Saturday during the AFL championship game.

The best 2009 performances at each Minor League Baseball classification are being honored by the Topps Company in conjunction with Minor League Baseball. The ten-man Topps Double-A All-Star Team includes then-Springfield Cardinal Descalso as the second baseman.

The left-handed hitter was named to start in the mid-season Texas League All-Star Game for the North Division but instead was promoted to Triple-A Memphis in early July. With Springfield, Descalso had eight home runs and 51 RBI in 288 at-bats over 73 games. His line was an impressive .323/.396/.531.

Descalso's Double-A manager, Ron "Pop" Warner, is one of his biggest supporters.

"Daniel definitely was the leader of our offense," Warner recalled recently. "It really hurt to lose him, but that is our job – to get guys ready for the next level. The guy is a leader, a grinder a blue-collar player. He grinds out his at-bats better than anybody."

Descalso was announced earlier as our Cardinal Nation Springfield Player of the Year and earned a gold medal in September as a member of the World Cup's victorious Team USA.

The Pacific Coast League champion Memphis Redbirds had no selections on the 2009 Topps Triple-A All-Star Team.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog.

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