Former Stinger Phoenix Sanders Debuts with the Rays

Sanders is the 278th former Northwoods League player to debut in MLB

Rochester, Minn. – Former Willmar Stinger Phoenix Sanders, made his Major League debut for the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, April 14, 2022. Sanders is the 278th former Northwoods League player to reach the Major League level.

Sanders, who played collegiately at the University of South Florida, played for the Willmar Stingers in 2014. He was drafted in the 10th round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the Rays.

In 2014 with the Stingers, Sanders appeared in two games and was 1-0 with a .69 ERA. He struck out 12 batters in 13 innings while walking one.

Sanders began his professional career in 2018 with the Bowling Green Hot Rods of the Lo-A Midwest League. After 28 games he was promoted to the Charlotte Stone Crabs of the Hi-A Florida State League. Between the two clubs he was a combined 6-4 with a 3.08 ERA over 34 games. He struck out 89 batters in 64.1 innings. He also saved three games.

Sanders started the 2019 season with the Montgomery Biscuits of the AA Southern League. After pitching in 37 games he was promoted, to end the season, to the Durham Bulls of the AAA International League. For the year he had a 4-3 record with a 1.92 ERA. He struck out 68 batters in 61 innings with 15 saves.

Sanders spent the entire 2021 season back in Durham. He appeared in 50 games and was 3-3 with a 1.81 ERA. He saved two games and struck out 80 batters in 64 innings.

Prior to his call-up to the Rays, Sanders had pitched in two games in Durham and was 0-0 with a 2.45 ERA. In his Major League debut against the Athletics, Sanders entered the game in relief and pitched 3.0 innings allowing one run on two hits while striking out two.


The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. Having completed its’ 28th season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 22 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, over 275 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time All-Star and 2016 Roberto Clemente Award winner Curtis Granderson, three-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series Champion Max Scherzer (NYM), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and World Series Champion Chris Sale (BOS). As well as 2019 Rookie of the Year and 2019/2021 Home Run Derby Champion Pete Alonso (NYM) and 2021 All-Star, MLB Gold Glove winner and 2019 Second Team All-MLB shortstop Marcus Semien (TEX). All league games are viewable live for FREE via the Northwoods League website at For more information, visit or download the Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play.