June is always an exciting time of year for collegiate and high-school baseball players across the nation, with the annual Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft taking place. It’s also an extremely thrilling time here in the Northwoods League, as is evidenced by the past few drafts, in which hundreds of past and present NWL stars had their names called by former MLB commissioner Bud Selig and his successor, Rob Manfred.
Last year, a total of 194 current Northwoods League players and alumni were selected in last year’s draft, the most in the NWL’s 22-year history. The highest of those picks was pitcher Alex Young, who had previously played for the 2013 Lakeshore Chinooks. The left-hander was one of four NWL players selected in the second round of the 2015 draft.
The 2014 draft was even better to the league in terms of first rounders. Three 2012 Northwoods League graduates were selected in the opening round. With the 19th pick, Cincinnati selected former Madison Mallards pitcher Nick Howard, while the Tampa Bay Rays took former Eau Claire Express first baseman Casey Gillaspie with the 20th selection, and the Oakland A’s selected former La Crosse Loggers third baseman Matt Chapman 25th overall.
What will the 2016 Major League Baseball first year player draft hold for the current and former players in this league? We will all find out as the draft begins on Thursday, June 9, with the opening round televised live by MLB Network. One thing is for sure, the Northwoods League pedigree is likely to be continued by a new crop of past and present stars.