As a fan, is there anything better than October baseball? We don’t think so. We wanted to join in on the fun and give Express nation a rooting interest in the final few games of the ALCS Championship Series between the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros.
Drawing some local connections, the Yankees have drafted three former Express players over the past few years, most recently taking Jeff Hendrix, a 2014 outfielder and Express alum from Oregon State, in the 2015 MLB draft while the Houston Astros have selected eight former Express players including Cal Poly outfielder Alex McKenna, who is the subject of this week’s Alumni Update presented by Lakeland University.
Alex McKenna joined the Express in 2016 after completing his freshman season with the Cal Poly Mustangs. McKenna was a part of a memorable year at Carson Park as the Express reached the Northwoods League Championship game and was a vital component along the way. McKenna hit for a .269 average throughout the regular season, while legging out six doubles and hammering 8 home runs, good for fourth-most in a single season in Eau Claire’s record books.
McKenna was invited to the Major League Dreams Showcase in Madison over the course of the summer and was able to work out and play in a competitive atmosphere in front of MLB scouts. In the playoffs, the Lancaster, California native upped his batting average to .300 and drove in 4 runs over the course of the Express’s championship chase.
While with the Mustangs McKenna earned a first-team All-Big West Conference Selection, was named to the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American Team, and notably established a team-high mark of 30 multi-hit games as a sophomore.
McKenna was then drafted by the 2017 MLB Champion Houston Astros in the fourth round of the 2018 draft. In his first season in the MiLB McKenna hit for .311 with eight double, seven home runs, and 28 RBIs, all while earning a Mid-Season All-Star Selection and Baseball America Short-Season All-Star nod with the Tri-City ValleyCats in the Ney York-Penn League.
Despite losing time to injury in 2019, McKenna played in 65 games for the Quad City River Bandits at the Full-A level. There McKenna hit .252, was seventh on the team with 60 hits, swiped seven stolen bases and drove in 20 runs.
Keep a lookout all off-season for more alumni updates presented by Lakeland University. At Lakeland University you’ll find unique 14-week BlendEd courses that allow you to complete coursework either online or in class from week to week depending on your location, schedule, and other life commitments allowing you to choose the format that works best for you.
The Eau Claire Express are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The 25-year old summer collegiate 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 200 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET) and Curtis Granderson (MIA). 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.