Two Northwoods League Alumni Make Major League Debut
While the Northwoods season opener is just days away, two former Northwoods Alumni are making their major league debut. Right-handers Jay Buente (Wisconsin ’04-’05) and Sam LeCure (Brainerd ’05) both made their first career MLB outings on the mound this past week. Now with Buente and LeCure, the total number of Northwoods League players to make it to the majors is 65.
Jay Buente made his major league debut with the Florida Marlins on Thursday, May 27th at the age of 26. Buente threw 1.1 innings in relief of Ricky Nolasco against the Atlanta Braves. He recorded his first career MLB out against future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones when he got Jones to ground out to first base. Buente had a Northwoods career record of 12-5 with 1 save in 28 games played for the Wisconsin Woodchucks. He recorded a 7-2 record with a 1.43 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 94 innings as an all-star in 2005.
Buente was drafted in the 14th round of the 2006 amateur draft out of Purdue University. Buente had been pitching for the New Orleans Zephyrs of the Pacific Coast league where he had a 2.70 ERA in 19 games played with 3 holds. This mid-season promotion to the bullpen came after Burke Badenhop was optioned to Triple-A.
Sam LeCure of the Cincinnati Reds was called up on Friday, May 28th and earned his first career major league win. LeCure, 27, played in the Northwoods in 2005 and was drafted in the 2005 amateur draft in the 4th round. He made two starts for the Brainerd Blue Thunder that summer before signing with the Reds. The University of Texas Alum threw six innings while giving up two runs, scattering six hits and striking out five in a 15-6 win against the Houston Astros. LeCure is in the Reds starting rotation in the place of injured Homer Bailey.
The Wisconsin Woodchuck franchise now has nine former players that have made an MLB appearance while the Brainerd franchises have six players that have made the big leagues.
The Northwoods League has more teams, plays more games, and draws more fans than any Summer Collegiate Baseball League in North America. Opening night 2010 is this Wednesday, June 2nd.