Just over 200 Northwoods League players have played in the Major Leagues in the past 20 years
And a few have become big stars! The likes of Chris Sale, Max Scherzer, Ben Zobrist and Curtis Granderson have cashed big paychecks after playing in the Northwoods League. That’s the hope of relief pitcher Joe Harvey who made his debut this week with the Yankees! Joe played for the Brainerd Lakes Area Lunkers during the summer of 2011. There are more opportunities than usual with the Yankees this year than years past. Usually, the Yankees have familiar names in their bullpen, but this year only Zach Britton and Aroldis Chapman are the biggest names pitching in relief.
Joe has worked his way thru the Yankees system after 2 big seasons in the minors in 2017 and 2018. Former Twins Josh Willingham, Bobby Kielty, Pat Neshek, Zack Granite and current catcher Mitch Garver have all played in the Northwoods League.
Also close to home, Lucas Duda of the Royals played in Alexandria in 2006 and pitcher Nick Anderson who is a Brainerd High School grad and spent 2010 playing in Brainerd for the Lunkers made his debut in the majors with the Miami Marlins this season! Nick spent 3 years in the minors with the Twins before they traded him to the Marlins.
The Northwoods League is a summer league where college players hone their skills playing for free, using wood bats for the first time. The league was established in 1992 and has 22 teams across the Upper Midwest. There are 5 teams in Minnesota. Mankato, Rochester, St. Cloud, Willmar and Duluth.
Who will be the next player this summer that will make a future mark in Major League Baseball?