Published On: January 16th, 2024

Team Features four from the World Champion Texas Rangers

Rochester, Minn. – The Northwoods League today unveiled their MLB Alumni Team from the 2023 season. The full team along with their college, team played for in the NWL and year or years along with current MLB team are listed below.

Catcher: Mitch Garver, New Mexico, St. Cloud 2010-2011, Texas Rangers

Battling a multitude of injuries over his last three seasons, Garver bounced back in a huge way with the Texas Rangers in 2023, looking more like the 2019 Mitch Garver who won the Silver Slugger Award with the Minnesota Twins. Garver hit 19 home runs, drove in 50 RBI, while owning a .270 Batting Average. Garver was an integral part of the Rangers World Series Championship run, as he homered in each of the ALDS, ALCS and World Series. In December, Garver signed a 2-year, $24 million contract with the Seattle Mariners.

1st Baseman: Pete Alonso, Florida, Madison 2014, New York Mets

Another All-Star worthy season for the former Mallard slugger as Pete Alonso continues to prove he is one of the premiere power hitters in MLB. Alonso slugged 46 home runs, the third time in his career he’s hit over 40 home runs in a season, and recorded 118 RBI, leading all NWL Alumni in both categories. With his eye-popping offensive numbers, Alonso was voted to the 2023 MLB All-Star Game, his third nomination of his career. On April 7th, Alonso recorded his 150th home run in just his 538th MLB game, making him the second-fastest player to achieve this mark in MLB history.

2nd Baseman: Marcus Semien, California, Alexandria 2009-2010, Texas Rangers

2023 will be a year to remember for Marcus Semien. The World Series Champion and All-Star 2nd Baseman led the American League in hits (185), runs (122) while recording 40 doubles, 29 home runs and driving in 100 RBI for the second time in his career. Semien was a major factor at the plate in the World Series hitting two home runs, one of them being in the 9th inning of Game 5, which put a bow on the Texas Rangers first World Series Championship in franchise history. At the conclusion of the season, Semien was awarded with his second Silver Slugger Award, and was also named 1st Team All-MLB.

3rd Baseman: Matt Chapman, Cal State Fullerton, La Crosse 2012, Toronto Blue Jays

Chapman started on fire at the plate to begin 2023, hitting .384 with 5 home runs, 21 RBI and an MLB-leading 1.152 OPS. For that effort, he was recognized as April’s Player of the Month throughout the entire American League. Chapman would go on to finish hitting 39 doubles, 17 home runs and 54 RBI on the year. The former Logger continued to show his incredible talent with the mitt, earning his fourth Gold Glove of his career, as he continues to prove he is one of the best defensive players in MLB.

Shortstop: Nico Hoerner, Stanford, Madison 2016, Chicago Cubs

2023 served as a huge breakout year for Nico Hoerner. The former Mallard experienced career highs in runs (98), hits (175), doubles (27), RBI (68), while stealing an incredible 43 bases this season. Hoerner’s stolen base benchmark was the first time a Cubs player had stolen over 40 bases since fellow NWL Alum Juan Pierre did in 2006. Nico was the fourth player in the last 100 years of the Cubs Organization to steal over 40 bases and drive in over 60 runs. In addition to a terrific season at the plate, Nico’s defense may have been even more impressive, as he was awarded with the 1st Gold Glove of his career.

Outfield: TJ Friedl, Nevada, St. Cloud Rox 2016, Cincinnati Reds

In his first full MLB season, Friedl became a force within the high-powered Cincinnati offense. TJ hit an impressive .279 over 488 at-bats, scoring 73 times, hitting 22 doubles, 8 triples, 18 home runs, knocking in 66 runs, while also stealing an impressive 27 bases on the year. Friedl had such an impressive 2023 campaign, that he was recognized with an NL MVP vote at the end of the season.

Outfield: Luke Raley, Lake Erie, Lakeshore 2015, Tampa Bay Rays

Moving from the Dodgers to the Rays last season, Raley burst onto the scene with Tampa Bay this year. The former Chinook owned an impressive .824 OPS and hit career-high marks with 23 doubles, 19 home runs, and showed some speed on the base paths with 14 stolen bases. At the beginning of January, Raley was traded to the Seattle Mariners.

Outfield: Daulton Varsho, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Eau Claire 2015-2016, Toronto Blue Jays

Moving from Arizona to Toronto this offseason, Varsho continued to provide his rare blend of power, speed, and defense to the Blue Jays lineup. The former Northwoods League All-Star enjoyed his second consecutive year of hitting 20 home runs or more, drove in 61 runs, and swiped 16 bags. Flipping over to the defensive side, Varsho proved his significant value with his glove, finishing 2nd in the American League in Defensive Wins Above Replacement.

Utility: Bryson Stott, UNLV, Wisconsin Rapids 2017, Philadelphia Phillies

In only his second year in MLB, Stott is trending towards stardom in Philadelphia. The former 1st round pick started off 2023 on-fire, hitting safely in the first 17 games of the season, breaking a Phillies record that had stood since 1950. The former Rafter and Northwoods League All-Star owned a commendable .280 batting average with 164 hits, 32 doubles, 15 home runs and stole 31 bases at only 25 years old. In Game 2 of the NL Wild Card Series, Bryson hit the first grand slam of his MLB career.

Honorable Mention: Zack Gelof, Virginia, Kalamazoo 2019, Oakland Athletics

It was quite a Major League debut for Zack Gelof in 2023. The former MLB Top 100 prospect proved to be an immediate force as soon as he entered the Oakland lineup. In his first full month as a professional, Gelof hit seven home runs, drove in 15 runs, posted an impressive .912 OPS, and was awarded August AL Rookie of the Month. Zack became the fastest Oakland Athletics player to hit 10 home runs in franchise history, achieving this mark in just 35 games. Gelof would finish with 20 doubles, 14 home runs, 32 RBI, 14 stolen bases and .840 OPS in just 69 games played.

Honorable Mention: Lars Nootbaar, USC, La Crosse 2016, St. Louis Cardinals

Nootbaar moved into a full-time position in the St. Louis outfield for 2023, and his consistent presence did not go unnoticed. The former Logger experienced career high marks in hits (111), doubles (23) and RBI (46), while also hitting 14 home runs for the second straight season.

Pitcher: Max Scherzer, Missouri, La Crosse 2004, Texas Rangers

Fresh off signing the largest average annual value contract in MLB history in the pre-season, Mad Max continued to add to his future Hall of Fame career in 2023. Starting the season with the New York Mets, Scherzer was traded to the Texas Rangers at the trade deadline in July. Between both teams, Scherzer accumulated a 13-6 record, 3.77 ERA, and his patented high-volume of strikeouts with 174 over 152 innings pitched. The former Logger continued to add to his large trophy case this season, winning his 2nd World Series ring.

Pitcher: Dane Dunning, Florida, Waterloo 2014, Texas Rangers

Moving into the full-time starting rotation for Texas this season, Dunning proved to be a stabilizing force for the World Series Champions. Dunning set career-highs in innings pitched (172), strikeouts (140) and ERA (3.70), while also recording an impressive 12 wins on the year.

Pitcher: Matt Strahm, Neosho County CC, Rochester 2011, Philadelphia Phillies

A new change of scenery led to a career year for Matt Strahm in 2023. Serving as part-time starting pitcher as well as a long-relief pitcher, Strahm recorded a career-best 9 wins on the campaign. Strahm was one of the more successful arms for Philadelphia with a 3.29 ERA and striking out 108 batters across 87 innings pitched.

Pitcher: Colin Poche, Dallas Baptist, Willmar 2013, Tampa Bay Rays

Battling the injury bug in 2020 and 2021, Colin Poche has completely bounced back to become one of the premiere bullpen pieces in all of baseball. Serving as the set-up man for Tampa Bay, Poche doubled his career win total with a 12-3 record this season. The former Stinger also struck out 61 batters over 60 innings pitched, while owning an impressive 2.23 ERA.

Pitcher: AJ Puk, Florida, Waterloo 2014, Miami Marlins

Appearing in a new uniform and a new role out of the bullpen, Puk moved from Oakland to Miami in the off-season and became the Marlins’ new closer. The former Buck ace was terrific in his new role, logging a career-high 15 saves and seven wins while striking out an remarkable 78 batters over 56 innings.

Pitcher: Justin Topa, Long Island, Madison 2012, Seattle Mariners

A breakout season was very welcome to Justin Topa for the 2023 season. Having never thrown more than seven innings in his three-year MLB career, Topa signed with the Seattle Mariners and blew away almost every career mark he had. Serving out of the bullpen, Topa tossed 69 innings, striking out 61 batters, while maintaining a 2.61 ERA, as well as logging his first five wins of his career.

Pitcher: Griffin Jax, Air Force, Eau Claire 2015, Minnesota Twins

The Swiss-army knife out of the Twins bullpen continued another respectful year of relief duty. Jax logged six wins, four saves and punched out 68 batters across 65 innings pitched. Jax also made his first postseason appearances of his career, appearing twice in both the AL Wild Card and ALCS.

Pitcher: Louie Varland, Concordia St. Paul, Willmar 2017-2018, Minnesota Twins

Getting to play in his hometown backyard that is Target Field, Varland stepped into a larger role with the Twins in 2023. The former Stinger set career marks, starting 10 games, and punching out 71 batters across 68 innings. Louie also made his first post-season appearance, appearing in the AL Wild Card matchup vs. Toronto.

Honorable Mention: Brandon Pfaadt, Bellarmine, Mankato 2018, Arizona Diamondbacks

It was an impressive MLB debut for the 24-year-old Brandon Pfaadt to put it lightly. Hailed as a Top 30 MLB prospect before the season began, Pfaadt immediately stepped into the Diamondbacks rotation upon his debut in May. The former MoonDog punched out 94 batters across 96 innings during the regular season. However, it was the post-season where Pfaadt really shined. Starting five games during Arizona’s playoff run, Pfaadt struck out 26 batters, sported a 3.27 ERA and was masterful in his Game 7 NLCS start vs. Philadelphia, leading the Diamondbacks to the World Series.

Honorable Mention: Jordan Wicks, Kansas State, Rockford 2020, Chicago Cubs

It was an incredible MLB debut for Jordan Wicks in 2023. Recognized as one of the Cubs top prospects, Wicks was called up to the big-league club in August and did not disappoint. Wicks struck out 24 batters over 34 innings pitched, finishing with a 4-1 record. The former 1st Round pick looks to be a future star within the Chicago Cubs rotation.


The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. Having completed its’ 30th season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 26 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, 340 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 two-time World Series Champion Max Scherzer (TEX), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and World Series Champion Chris Sale (ATL). As well as 2019 Rookie of the Year and 2019/2021 Home Run Derby Champion Pete Alonso (NYM) and 2023 World Series Champion, 2021 and 2023 All-Star, MLB Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner and two-time All-MLB first team shortstop Marcus Semien (TEX). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website at and on ESPN+. For more information, visit or download the Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play.


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