Eau Claire, Wis. – The Express announced three additions to the 2017 roster today from a familiar college program, Dallas Baptist. Freshman pitchers Luke Eldred and Ethan Routzahn, along with freshman infielder Luke Bandy are the latest signings and bring Eau Claire’s roster to seven. The team will continue to announce player signings weekly until the beginning of the Northwoods League season.
Eldred is a right-handed pitcher from Mount Vernon, Iowa and was a five-year letterman at Mount Vernon High School. In 2016, he was named a Rawlings-Perfect Game Honorable Mention All-American and earned Central All-Region honors by Perfect Game. Eldred is familiar with the program in Eau Claire, as his brother CJ played two seasons for the Express. Field Manager Dale Varsho thinks that played a role in signing Luke.
“Luke has a good idea of what we do after watching CJ play here,” Varsho stated. “Seeing CJ improve in his time here and also knowing the competition he faced made it a pretty easy fit for him to come to Eau Claire.”
Routzahn hails from Crystal Lake, Ill. and is also a right-hander. He earned national recognition coming out of high school as, like Eldred, he was named a Rawlings-Perfect Game Honorable Mention All-American following his senior season. Routzahn was ranked the No. 41 high school senior in Illinois in 2016 by Perfect Game. Varsho sees him as a prototypical Dallas Baptist player; similar to others that have played for the Express in the past.
“Ethan really fits the mold of successful players I’ve had from Dallas Baptist,” Varsho said. “He’s big, athletic, and strong and we expect he will give us quality innings this summer.”
Bandy chose to attend Dallas Baptist despite being drafted in the 32nd Round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Kansas City Royals. He had a great high school career, ranking as the No. 6 draft prospect from the state of Arkansas and the state’s top high school player by Baseball America. Bandy joined Eldred and Routzahn as a Rawlings-Perfect Game Honorable Mention All-American and was also named to the Southeast All-Region First Team by Perfect Game in 2016. Dale Varsho’s roster to this point features a lot of speed and that is a mold that Bandy certainly fits into.
“Luke should be an anchor for us in the middle infield,” said Varsho. “He will bring more speed and athleticism that will really mesh well with Mezzenga and Gilles in the lineup. They all really play an exciting brand of baseball.”
Dallas Baptist has been a consistent program in sending great players to Eau Claire, including Daniel Salters, Drew Turbin, Cory Taylor and Paul Voelker who are all playing in Minor League Baseball. Varsho obviously has enjoyed that partnership.
“I’ve always enjoyed getting players from Dallas Baptist,” Varsho stated. “The biggest thing is they respect the game, their teammates, our host families, and the fans. They also bring great loyalty and dedication to our program.”
The Express begin season number 13 in the Northwoods League on May 30 as they travel to Bismarck, N.D. for the inaugural series for the Bismarck Larks. They continue to Willmar to take on the Stingers for a two-game set before opening their home schedule at Carson Park on Saturday, June 3 versus the Mankato MoonDogs. First pitch of the home opener will be at 7:05 p.m. and the game will be followed by a fireworks show. Purchase your 5-Game Packs, including a reserved seat and unlimited food and beverage, online by clicking here or by contacting the Express office at 715-839-7788 or 102 E. Grand Ave. in downtown Eau Claire. Single-game tickets go on sale May 1.
The Eau Claire Express are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The 23-year-old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 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, 160 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champion Ben Zobrist (CHC) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM) and Lucas Duda (NYM). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.eauclaireexpress.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Express as your favorite team.