Official League Website
Northwoods League top 75 prospects (list)
Battle Creek Bombers got hot at the right time and claimed the
Northwoods League championship in
their fifth year of existence. They swept both the Green Bay
Bullfrogs and Mankato MoonDogs to go 4-0 in the post-season after
winning their final seven games of the regular season.
was a significant reversal of fortune for the Bombers, who brought up
the rear in the 16-team league in 2010 with a combined 20-50 record.
But the Bombers made a calculated move to change the team’s
direction when it hired veteran minor-league manager and former
big-league catcher Donnie Scott to manage the club in 2011, and his
wealth of experience was critical in the team’s worst-to-first run.
notice that they were a different, more-competitive club by winning
the first-half of the South Division, the Bombers also claimed the
second-half title with their late-season surge, which enabled them to
secure home-field advantage in the playoffs.
closed out their successful 2011 season in convincing style by
beating Mankato 13-0 in the deciding game of the finals, scoring six
runs in the bottom of the first inning. Outfielder Daniel Rockett
(Texas-San Antonio) led the onslaught by hitting his fourth home run
of the playoffs.
he left early and was not part of the Battle Creek team that claimed
the championship, Arkansas’ rising sophomore righthander Nolan
Sanburn received the most support from scouts and managers as the
league's top prospect. He made just six appearances (two starts) for
the Bombers after serving primarily as the Razorbacks closer during
the spring, but was dominant with a fastball that peaked at 98 mph
and a nasty 82-85 slider. He’ll be eligible for the 2012 draft as a
most agreed that the quality of pitching was up across the league
this summer, with several hurlers routinely dialing their
fastballs into the mid-90s.
addition to Sanburn, Alexandria's Anthony Bazzani
(Eastern Kentucky), Brainerd's Ray Black (Pittsburgh) and Mankato's
Sam Selman (Vanderbilt) all peaked at 97-98 mph. Others who routinely
flirted with the mid-90s were Jonathan Crawford (Florida), Matt
Milroy (Illinois) and Tom Windle (Minnesota), all of Madison; Dan
Child (Oregon State) and Jordan Haseltine (San Francisco) of La
Crosse; and Nick Dolsky (Des Moines Area, Iowa, CC) of Rochester. All
rank among the top 17 on the accompanying list of the league’s top
by its hard-throwing trio, Madison's
staff in particular was impressive, establishing a new league record
by collectively striking out 595 batters.
the list of the league’s top prospects, occupying eight of the top
11 spots, several hitters also made their mark in the league.
outfielder Shaun Cooper, who went undrafted in June despite hitting
.332-8-43 as protection in the Utah batting order for first-round
pick C.J. Cron, was named the league's player of the year. He was
also saluted by PG CrossChecker as its summer league player of the year.
established single-season league records for home runs (20),
extra-base hits (38), total bases (163) and slugging percentage
(.674), and put on an impressive power display to win the league's
Home Run Derby as part of All-Star Game festivities held at Wisconsin
Rapids' Witter Field.
Crosse catcher Andrew Knapp (California) won the batting title with a
.400 average, becoming only the second player in league history to
reach that pedestal (Luis Rivera, .437, 1995). Knapp, a
switch-hitter, received limited playing time last spring at Cal
working as an understudy to veteran Chadd Krist, but made the most of
his opportunity to play every day at La Crosse. In the process, he
put his name prominently on the follow list of players eligible for
the 2013 draft.
had a solid 2011 season overall, fielding the same 16 teams it did in
2010. It also broke its own attendance record with 901,652 fans going
through the turnstiles, an average of 1,692 per game. Madison once
again led the way, and also broke its own summer college records of
213,467 total fans, and 6,278 per game.
the largest number of clubs of any summer league, along with its
70-game regular-season schedule, the Northwoods League obviously
plays significantly more games overall than any other summer league,
accounting for easily the best attendance nationally.
the league doesn’t measure its success strictly on the basis of its
turnstile count. It prides
itself by most closely emulating the atmosphere a player will
experience playing in the minor leagues, with its extended schedule
and demanding travel, and the use of both wood bats and the same
baseballs used in the professional game.
league also institutes strict pitch counts, which prevented Eau
Claire righthander Tony Vocca, in particular, from a chance to
complete a no-hitter against Wisconsin Rapids on Aug. 11. Vocca was
lifted after eight no-hit innings with 14 strikeouts also to his
credit. Reliever Mike Couch was brought on in the ninth to secure the
combined no-hitter, and picked up where Vocca left off by striking
out the side.
League Established: 1994.
Represented in League: Iowa,
Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ontario (Canada).
of Teams in League:
16 (16 in 2010).
Champion (best overall record):
Alexandria Beetles (44-25).
PG CrossChecker Summer 50/Final Ranking:
No. 9 Battle Creek Bombers, No. 12 Alexandria Beetles, No. 23 Mankato
MoonDogs, No. 38 Green Bay Bullfrogs, No. 44 La Crosse Loggers.
1 Prospect, 2010 (per PG CrossChecker):
Kyle Gaedele, of, Madison Mallards (Valparaiso; Padres/6th round).
2010 Player Selected, 2011 Draft:
Madison Boer, rhp, La Crosse Loggers (Oregon; Twins/2nd round).
of the Year:
Shaun Cooper, of, Mankato MoonDogs.
of the Year:
Blake Schwartz, rhp, Mankato MoonDogs.
LEADERS (League games only)
Andrew Knapp, c, La Crosse Loggers (.400).
Shaun Cooper, of, Mankato MoonDogs (.674).
Ben Magsig, 3b, Alexandria Beetles (.510).
Shaun Cooper, of, Mankato MoonDogs (20).
Shaun Cooper, of, Mankato MoonDogs (61).
Carlos Lopez, of, St. Cloud River Bats (26).
LEADERS (League games only)
Kevin Vangheluwe, rhp, Alexandria Beetles (8).
Blake Schwartz, rhp, Mankato MoonDogs (1.71).
Anthony Bazzani, rhp, Alexandria Beetles (16).
Michael Fagan, lhp, St. Cloud River Bats (81).
Ervin, of, Green Bay Bullfrogs.
Andrew Knapp, c, La Crosse Loggers.
Shaun Cooper, of, Mankato MoonDogs.
Garrett Nash, of, Wisconsin Rapids Rafters.
Ty Forney, ss, Eau Claire Express.
Anthony Bazzani, rhp, Alexandria Beetles.
Breaking Ball: Jonathan
Crawford, rhp, Madison Mallards.
Schwartz, rhp, Mankato MoonDogs.
NOLAN SANBURN, rhp, Battle Creek Bombers (Arkansas/SO in 2012)
was a significant part of a promising freshman class at Arkansas last
season, although he wasn't quite as heralded as teammates Ryne Stanek
and Dominic Ficociello to begin his college career. Stanek came in as
an unsigned third-rounder from the 2010 draft, while Ficociello would
have been taken about the same spot had he been considered more
signable. Ficociello slipped to the Detroit Tigers in the 23rd round—11 rounds before the same team drafted Sanburn, as an
outfielder. Though Sanburn pitched and played the outfield, and also
caught at an Indiana high school, the Razorbacks targeted him as a
pitcher from the start. He had just as strong an impact as a freshman
as Ficiociello and Stanek did, serving as the team’s primary
closer, and posting eight saves and a 3.62 ERA in 24 relief
appearances. He carried that success into the summer, although
appeared in only six games for Battle Creek, two of which were
starts. He posted a 2.33 ERA over 19 innings for the eventual NWL
champions, while allowing only nine hits and striking out 24 during
his abbreviated summer stay. Most impressive, he showed impressive
command of his 90-94 mph fastball, which topped out at 98. His slider
also projected as a plus pitch. By working as a starter, it gave
Sanburn an opportunity to work on developing a promising changeup.
His fastball is his best pitch, not only for its velocity but for the
angles he throws it. His aggressive, bulldog-like approach on the
mound makes it a true swing-and-miss pitch. With an athletic 6-foot,
190-pound frame, he employs a compact, repeatable delivery, and while
he is expected to again assume the closer role for the Razorbacks as
a sophomore, his repertoire should allow him to be used as a starter
at some point in his career. That may be at the professional level,
and sooner than later as Sanburn is draft-eligible as a sophomore and
has the potential of being selected in the first-round in 2012. With
a July 21, 1991 birthdate, he is eligible for next year’s draft by
one day. His teammate, Stanek, on the other hand, is not eligible,
even though he is just five days younger than Sanburn.
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