Today we will continue our Alumni Update presented by Lakeland University, by taking a deeper look into our Express Alumni from UW-Milwaukee that have made it into the MiLB.
Since 2012, five Express players from UW-Milwaukee have been drafted by MLB clubs and have begun their careers in the minors. The first Panther to be taken from this group was Mitch Ghelfi when he was taken by the Brewers in the 28th round of the 2015 draft.
Ghelfi played for multiple Northwoods League teams, making stops in Eau Claire, Green Bay, and Lakeshore. In 2012 with the Express, Ghelfi helped close out the season for the Black and Orange, playing in the final seven games of the season and establishing a .333 batting average over that time.
After being taken by the Brewers in 2015, Ghelfi has made stops with other minor league teams affiliated with the Los Angeles Angels and now the New York Mets. Ghelfi was awarded a Mid-Season All-Star Award while playing with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and recently finished the 2019 season with the St. Lucie Mets.
Daulton Varsho was the next Panther to enter the minors after being drafted by the Diamondbacks in 2017. Varsho played the entire 2019 season with double-A Jackson Generals helping the ball club to a North Division runner-up finish and ending his regular season with a team-high .301 batting average, runs (85), on-base-plus-slugging (.899), and total bases (206). The UW-Milwaukee product was also recognized as a Mid-Season All-Star, Post-Season All-Star, was a Futures Game selection, and recently named the Diamondbacks 2019 Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball America.
Varsho appeared for the Express during the 2015 and 2016 seasons, playing his way into the record books. He led Eau Claire in several offensive categories in 2015, including runs (37), doubles (11), triples (7), RBIs (32) and stolen bases (21). He ranked second in games played (63), at-bats (247), home runs (4) and hits (73). Varsho was a two-time Northwoods League All-Star and was a Major League Dreams participant.
Austin Schulfer played for the Express in 2015 and 2016, racking up nine wins across the two seasons and was selected as a Northwoods League All-Star in the summer of 2016. Schulfer, a Stevens Point, Wisconsin native held an ERA of 1.77 through 40 innings pitched and struck out 50 batters in his second season in Eau Claire. Schulfer was a 2018 Horizon League First-Team member and led the Panthers with 87 strikeouts in his senior season. Taken by the Minnesota Twins in the 2018 MLB draft in the 19th round, Schulfer has played for the Elizabethton Twins and the Cedar Rapids Kernels in his first two seasons in the MiLB, racking up ten wins over that span.
A short stop from Marshfield, Wisconsin, Trevor Schwecke was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays this past summer. Schwecke played for the Express in 2017, helping the team to an NWL playoff berth, and was selected to the NWL All-Star team in 2018 as a member of the Madison Mallards. Schwecke earned Horizon League First-team honors in his final season as a Panther in Milwaukee. This past season Schwecke appeared in 62 games for the Vancouver Canadians, batting .231 and adding 13 extra-base knocks in his first season in the minors.
Jake Sommers, a right-handed pitcher from Hortonville, Wisconsin was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2019 MLB draft. Sommers played for the Express in 2016 and 2017, twice appearing in the Major League Dreams Showcase. Sommers had a terrific four-year career with the Panthers, ending his senior-year campaign with a Horizon League Second-Team Selection and picking up ten saves while establishing a 3.60 ERA. Sommers spent this past season in the minors with the Jackson City Cardinals, making 12 appearances with ten starts.
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.
Kwik Trip Round-Trip Memberships are available online or by calling 715-839-7788 and start at $55. Single-game tickets and general admission tickets will go on sale at a later date.
The Eau Claire Express are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. Having completed its’ 26th 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 230 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series Champion Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and World Series Champion Chris Sale (BOS). As well as 2019 Rookie of the Year and Home Run Derby Champion Pete Alonso (NYM) and MLB All-Stars Jordan Zimmermann (DET) and Curtis Granderson (MIA). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. 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.