Seven Rafters set to participate in Major League Dreams Showcase
By Jacob Heid
WISCONSIN RAPIDS — With the regular season nearing the end in the Northwoods League, Major League scouts get one last opportunity to watch players up close and personal. The Major League Dreams Showcase is in La Crosse on Aug. 2, allowing players to show off their talents in front of scouts. The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters have plenty to show for, having seven players included in the festivities. The players include Brendan Bobo (1B), Nate Nankil (OF), McKinley Erves (OF), Cooper Robinson (RHP), Logan Schulfer (RHP), Preston Howey (RHP), and Josh Howitt (LHP).
The Northwoods League season consists of a long three-month stretch of baseball with minimal “rest days.” When looking at the Rafters’ schedule, the Showcase is one of only three days off all season, minus the all-star break. For some, it is a well-deserved break. The Northwoods League’s top-100 prospects, which are hand-picked by Major League scouts, have another day at the office. Well, not just another day. Participating players will have a chance to put themselves on plenty of scouts’ radars in this unique event. They will participate in on-field workouts and then play in a game setting with a double-header starting at 4 p.m.
Locally, Wisconsin Rapids is led by Cal State Fullerton standout Brendan Bobo. The sophomore has been a consistent bat for the Rafters all season long. Bobo holds the league lead in home runs. He also holds the Rafters’ record for single-season home runs with 16 this year. Another bat for the Rafters is Bobo’s teammate, Nate Nankil. The sophomore has had 95 plate appearances this season, hitting a .358 average in 25 games. The last non-pitcher to participate for the Rafters is McKinley Erves. The Lagrange College RS senior has played in 25 games for Wisconsin Rapids, batting a .326 average. He has hit two home runs on the season, both on July 16.
Wisconsin Rapids’ pitching has been consistent all season long. Four of the seven participating players are on the mound for the Rafters. Cooper Robinson, the UC-Irvine freshman, has pitched in seven games for the Rafters. He has a season ERA of 3.44, with his most recent outing coming on July 28 versus the Lakeshore Chinooks. Robinson pitched three innings, giving up three runs on three hits. He also struck out two batters.
The second pitcher in the Major League Dreams Showcase is Logan Schulfer, a 2021 SPASH graduate. A soon-to-be sophomore at Ball State, Schulfer will put his talents in front of Major League scouts. He has appeared in 11 games this season, throwing 34 innings and having a 5-1 record. With a 2.91 ERA, Schulfer has given up 11 earned runs and also has 35 strikeouts. He won his most recent game against the Mallards on July 30.
The third pitcher is Saint Mary’s College sophomore, Preston Howey. He has been a familiar face out of the bullpen for the Rafters. Appearing in 23 games so far, Howey has 12 saves on the season in 25 innings pitched. He has surrendered 13 runs on 22 hits given up.
The final athlete to represent the Rafters is RHP Josh Howitt. The third Cal State Fullerton player on the Rafters to be at the Major League Dreams Showcase. Howitt is preparing for this senior season, appearing in 12 games this season with Wisconsin Rapids. He has a 7-0 record, pitching 31 innings, and has a 2.91 ERA. Howitt has also registered 43 strikeouts in his 2022 summer campaign.
The Major League Dreams showcase is a huge opportunity for elite college-level baseball athletes to put themselves on the map. After the showcase, the regular season starts again on Aug. 3.