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Minor League update

By Scott Barancik, Editor

We’ve seen many Jewish accomplishments in the minor leagues between July 8, 2022 and September 15, 2022. Following are some highlights:

Mazel Tov

  • MLB.com recently named 3B Zack Gelof (Athletics/Double-A/Midland RockHounds) #98 out of baseball’s 100 top minor-league prospects. The website projected that Gelof, just 22 years old, will make it to the Majors in 2024.
  • At least four Jews have been chosen to play in the prestigious Arizona Fall League, which begins October 3. MLB franchises typically send their top prospects to the AFL for additional competition and seasoning. The four players include 3B Zack Gelof (Athletics/Double-A/Midland RockHounds), 1B Matt Mervis (Cubs AAA/Iowa Cubs), P Alex Segal (Braves/High-A/Rome Braves), and rookie P Colton Gordon (Astros/High-A/Asheville Tourists). Mervis and Gelof will be teammates on the Mesa Solar Sox.
  • P Jared Shuster (Braves/AAA/Gwinnett Stripes) was named Southern League (AA) Pitcher of the Week for July 11-17. The award came after a dominating win in which the former 1st-round draft pick struck out 12 and yielded just 2 hits and no walks over 7 scoreless innings.
  • Brandon Gold (Rockies/AAA/Albuquerque Isotopes) was named Pacific League Pitcher of the Week for August 8-14. The honor came after a win in which the 6-foot-3-inch right hander yielded just 2 hits and no walks over 6 scoreless innings while striking out 2.
  • The Rockies recently added P Noah Davis (AA/Hartford Yard Goats) to the club’s 40-man roster.

Debuts and second chances

  • P Bubby Rossman (Phillies) defied the odds when he made his Major League debut on July 13 (see article). Until Philadelphia signed him as a free agent in late 2021, the 6-foot-5-inch reliever hadn’t played MLB-affiliated ball since 2016. But when two Phillies pitchers were declared ineligible to play in Canada in mid-July due to their unvaccinated status, Rossman received the call. With his fastball topping out at 98mph, he gave up a walk and a home run before retiring the next three batters. Making the outing even more memorable was the fact that Rossman’s batterymate was C Garrett Stubbs.
  • P Jake Fishman (Marlins) made his MLB debut on July 31. A subsequent call-up led to another appearance, on August 30. On September 15, Miami called-up the 27-year-old rookie a third time.
  • P Zack Weiss (Angels) made his MLB debut with Cincinnati all the way back in 2018, and it didn’t go well. The 6-foot-3-inch reliever faced four batters that day and retired none of them, instead yielding 2 HRs and 2 walks. But Weiss kept at it, and four years later, it paid off. In five appearances since the Angels called him up September 1, the 30-year-old has maintained a perfect 0.00 ERA over 6 combined innings, yielding 2 hits and 5 walks while striking out 7.

Welcome

  • Credit to Team Israel alums Zach Weiss (Angels) and Alon Leichman for identifying two more Jewish prospects, both of them power hitters (see article). Chase Strumpf (Cubs/AA/Tennessee Smokies), a former 2nd-round draft pick who splits his time between second base and third base, ranked #1 on the Smokies through September 15 in times hit by pitch (19), #2 in on-base percentage (.377), and #3 in HRs (21) and doubles (22). 1B Jake Scheiner (Mariners/AA/Arkansas Travelers), a former 4th-round draft pick, ranked #5 among all minor leaguers with 105 RBIs (tied) and had hit 21 HRs.
  • The 2022 amateur draft was the least productive in memory, but at least four Jewish players were selected. They include P Eric Reyzelman (Yankees), a 21-year-old right hander out of Louisiana State University (Round 5, #160 overall); P Tanner Jacobson (Cardinals), a 22-year-old right hander out of Queens University of Charlotte (Round 10, #307); C Jordan Dissin (Phillies), a 20-year-old out of the University of Richmond (Round 12, #362); and P Graham Firoved (Cubs), a 22-year-old out of Virginia Polytechnic (Round 16, #467). Shortly after the draft, the Yankees signed P Harrison Cohen, a right hander out of George Washington U., as an undrafted free agent.

Stats to share

  • Through September 15, Jewish batters accounted for two of the top 6 run-producers among all minor leaguers. Matt Mervis (Cubs/AAA/Iowa Cubs) ranked #2 with 111 RBIs, while Jake Scheiner (Mariners) ranked #5 with 105 (tied).
  • In the space of a month, the Yankees signed three Jewish pitchers: Cubs workhorse Scott Effross, draftee Eric Reyzelman, and undrafted free agent Harrison Cohen.

Player spotlight: Matt Mervis

1B Matt Mervis (Cubs AAA/Iowa Cubs) wasn’t even supposed to be here. An infielder and pitcher at Duke University, he excelled at neither. All 30 MLB teams ignored him in the 2020 draft. The Cubs signed Mervis soon after as an undrafted free agent, but his first season as a pro was uninspired: a .209 batting average with 9 HRs for Chicago’s Low-A team. Then, in 2022, something clicked.

  • Mervis started the season in High-A and powered his way through Double-A before settling in with Chicago’s Triple-A squad, the Iowa Cubs. Through September 15, he was hitting a combined .309 with 33 HRs, 111 RBIs, and a .983 OPS (on-base plus slugging).
  • Mervis’s 33 HRs ranked second among all minor leaguers. His prior season high, either as a pro or college player, was 9.
  • The Cubs named Mervis their Minor League Player of the Month for August. Ironically, that was his least-productive month of the season so far.
  • Mervis is one of six top prospects the Cubs have tagged to play in the Arizona Fall League.
  • MLB.com projects that Mervis will make his Major League debut in 2023.

At the plate

  • C Jordan Dissin (Phillies/Rookie/FCL Phillies), a 12th-round pick in the 2022 amateur draft, made his professional debut on August 6. He is hitting .353 (6-for-17) with 5 walks, 2 hit by pitches, and 6 strikeouts.
  • 3B Noah Mendlinger (Cardinals/High-A/Peoria Chiefs), an undrafted free agent who signed with St. Louis in 2021, has upped his game since we last checked in. Through July 7, the 22-year-old was hitting .209 (24-for-115) with 0 HRs, 7 RBIs, and a healthy .372 OBP. From July 8 through September 15, Mendlinger hit .284 (31-for-109) with 2 HRs, 11 RBIs, and a .397 OBP.
  • 1B Matt Mervis (Cubs/AAA/Iowa Cubs) was promoted to Triple-A on July 22. From then through September 15, the sophomore pro hit .295 (49 for 166) with 12 HRs, 31 RBIs, a .369 OBP, and a .971 OPS.

On the mound

  • Colton Gordon (Astros/High-A/Asheville Tourists), a 2021 draftee who didn’t make his pro debut until 2022, has come a long way since July 7, when he was playing for one of Houston’s rookie-league teams. Gordon’s first stop was at Fayetteville (Low-A), where he went 0-0 with a 2.21 ERA across 5 games (including 3 starts), held opposing batters to a mere 0.787 walks/hits per inning, and struck out 27 batters over 20.1 combined innings while walking only 3. From there the 6-foot-4-inch southpaw headed to Asheville (High-A), where he put up nearly identical numbers. Gordon’s most recent start was his finest yet. In a September 11 win against the Greenville Drive, he tossed 5.2 scoreless innings, yielding just 3 hits and no walks while striking out 9. Small wonder that Houston decided to enroll the 23-year-old rookie in the upcoming Arizona Fall League.

Injured

Released

  • IF Ty Kelly (Dodgers)
  • C Jakob Goldfarb (Diamondbacks)

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JBN welcomes two more players

By Scott Barancik, editor

Two prospects who had been under Jewish Baseball News’ radar are now locked in. Both are infielders, power hitters, and high draft picks who play at the Double-A level

Chase Strumpf (Cubs/AA/Tennessee Smokies), a 24-year-old UCLA alum who once played on Team USA’s 15-and-under squad and splits his time between second base and third base, was a 2nd-round draft pick in 2019. A current .235 hitter and former teammate of fellow prospect Matt Mervis, Strumpf ranks #1 on the Smokies in times hit by a pitch (19), #3 in HRs (19) and doubles (21), and #7 in on-base percentage (.374).

Jake Scheiner (Mariners/AA/Arkansas Travelers), a 27-year-old first baseman and University of Houston alum, was chosen by the Phillies in the 4th round of the 2017 draft. Currently hitting .249, Scheiner leads all Double-A players with 93 RBIs (tied). Among his fellow Travelers, he ranks #1 in walks (71), #2 in HRs (18), and #3 in on-base plus slugging (.804).

Please join us in welcoming these talented athletes.

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MLB Update

Rowdy Tellez celebrates after stealing second on August 5. He’s one of only 5 players to steal a base in 2022 who stand at least 6’4″ and weigh at least 255 pounds

By Scott Barancik, editor

Jewish Baseball News’ most recent MLB update took us through games played June 17. Following is an overview of what has happened since then, through games played August 21.

Mazel Tov

  • P Jake Fishman (Marlins) became the third Jewish pitcher to make his MLB debut in 2022. In 3.1 innings of relief against the Mets on July 31, the 27-year-old yielded one earned run on 4 hits, no walks, and a hit batter (click here to see a video clip). Fishman was sent back down to Triple-A the following day.
  • P Bubby Rossman (Phillies), who played for Israel in the 2021 European Baseball Championship, made his MLB debut on July 13, yielding 2 earned runs over one inning and yielding a HR, one walk, and one strikeout. Since returning to Triple-A, Rossman is 3-1 with a 2.35 ERA and 25 strikeouts over 15.1 innings.
  • OF Joc Pederson (Giants) was a starter in the 2022 All-Star Game, his second All-Star appearance. Max Fried was added to the N.L. roster but chose not to pitch, citing a recent lengthy outing.
  • The Yankees went on a Jewish pitcher buying spree in August, acquiring reliever Scott Effross from the cellar-dweller Cubs as well as two prospects — draftee Eric Reyzelman and undrafted free agent Harrison Cohen — in the space of 20 days.
  • Two Jewish players squared off from the mound in a July 22 game (see box). Cubs hurler Scott Effross tossed a perfect inning. Phillies catcher Garrett Stubbs was far less effective in his second mound appearance this season, yielding 5 earned runs on two HRs and a walk over one inning.
  • Retired second baseman Ian Kinsler was selected to manage Team Israel in the 2023 World Baseball Championship. He also was one of five athletes to hoist a torch during the opening ceremony at the 2022 Maccabiah Games in Israel.
Stats thru 8/21/2022

Season overview

  • Jewish pitchers continue to outpace their peers in 2022. Through August 21, they were a combined 23-16 with a 4.2 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 3.19 ERA, substantially better than the MLB average ERA of 3.93.
  • Jewish batters are hitting a combined .250 so far this season, better than the MLB average of .241. They also are hitting HRs at a far faster clip than the Majors as a whole — one for every 18.0 at-bats, versus one in 31.5 ABs.

Stats to share

  • C Garrett Stubbs (Phillies) packs a lot of power into a small frame. So far, he is one of only 11 Major Leaguers to hit a home run this season who stand no more than 5’11” and weigh no more than 170 pounds. Diminutive second baseman Jose Altuve of the Astros (5’6″ and 166 pounds) leads the pack with 20 HRs, but Stubbs’ HR pace (one every 16.6 at-bats) ranks #1.
  • 1B Rowdy Tellez (Brewers) celebrated on August 5 when he stole second base. He is one of just 5 MLB players to steal a base this season who stand at least 6’4″ and weigh at least 255 pounds.
  • Tellez is among National League leaders in multiple categories, including #2 in intentional walks (9), #2 in fielding percentage among first basemen (.999), #2 in maximum exit velocity (116.9 mph), #4 in at-bats per HR (15.2) and hard-hit balls (40.4%), #7 in HRs (26/tied), and #10 in RBIs (74). Not bad for a 30th-round draft pick. (Special thanks to reader Jack W. for providing JBN with multiple statistical insights.)
  • SS Alex Bregman (Astros) is among N.L. leaders in multiple categories, including #1 in lowest swing percentage at balls outside the strike zone (21.2%), #3 in walk-to-strikeout ratio (1.05) and runs scored (72), #6 in highest walk percentage (12.9%), #7 in RBIs (73/tied) and wins above replacement (4.1), #8 in fewest swings and misses on pitches (5.6%), and #9 in lowest strikeout rate (12.4%).
  • Among N.L. hitters with at least 250 ABs, LF Joc Pederson (Giants) ranks #3 in hard-hit balls (52.7%) and #4 in average exit velocity (92.9 mph). (NOTE: Pederson is not qualified to win a batting title in 2022 because he will fall short of the minimum number of at-bats. JBN set a lower AB minimum — 250 — in order to show how Pederson lines up against his peers.)
  • P Dean Kremer (Orioles) had three consecutive scoreless outings of five innings or more from June 17 through June 28. The Oriole record of four straight scoreless outings is held by Hall of Fame hurler Jim Palmer and two others.
  • P Max Fried (Braves) is among N.L. leaders in multiple categories, including #1 in home run infrequency (0.43 per 9 innings) and average curveball vertical movement (-10.4), #2 in walk infrequency (1.55% per 9 innings) and fielding-independent pitching (2.49), #3 in strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.32), #4 in wins above replacement (4.4) and range factor per 9 innings (2.11), #5 in ERA (2.60), #6 in wins (11), and #10 in average fastball velocity (94.1 mph/tied).

At the plate

  • Backup catcher Garrett Stubbs (Phillies) is making the most of his limited role. It’s no surprise that the defensive specialist has a .991 fielding percentage, but Stubbs’ prowess at the plate has been intriguing. In just 83 at-bats, he is hitting .289 with 5 HRs, 14 RBIs, 2 stolen bases, a .366 on-base percentage (OBP), and an .896 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS).
  • After a fast start in 2022, LF Joc Pederson (Giants) has tapered off. In 130 at-bats since June 17, the journeyman has hit just .223 with 4 HRs, 13 RBIs, a .297 OBP, and a .697 OPS. Oddly, he’s performed better since returning from a July 28 concussion, hitting .290 with a .342 OBP. A rumor that Atlanta might seek to reacquire Pederson prior to the trade deadline failed to materialize.
  • 1B Rowdy Tellez (Brewers) has hit only .215 in 177 ABs since June 17, but that includes 16 HRs, 36 RBIs, and a .335 OBP.
  • SS Alex Bregman (Astros) has recovered some of his batting swagger of late. Through games played June 17, he was hitting .216 with 7 HRs, 30 RBIs, a .336 OBP, and a .712 OPS. Since then, Bregman has hit .309 with 11 HRs, 42 RBIs, a .396 OBP, and a .956 OPS. The highlight came August 18, when he went 4-for-6 with 2 HRs, 2 doubles, and 6 RBIs against the White Sox.

On the mound

  • Max Fried (Braves) has picked up his already stellar play recently. Through June 17, he was 7-2 with a 2.90 ERA. Since then, he’s dropped his ERA to 2.23, although a lack of run support left him with a 4-2 record.
  • In anticipation of the playoffs, the Yankees acquired reliever Scott Effross from the Cubs on 8/1/2022. It’s not hard to understand why. Through July, the workhorse had pitched in 47 games, going 1-4 with 13 holds, one save, and a 2.66 ERA. The move already has paid off. In 7 games with New York, Effross is 0-0 with a save, 2 holds, and a 3.24 ERA.
  • Dean Kremer (Orioles) is enjoying career bests in his third MLB season. His record of 5-4 in 2022 compares to a combined 1-8 in his rookie season and 2021, and he has made significant improvements in ERA (3.45 vs. 6.84), walks/hits per inning (1.295 vs. 1.590), walks per 9 innings (2.1 vs. 4.6), and strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.28 vs. 1.86).
  • In what has been a challenging season, Richard Bleier (Marlins) is on the upswing. Through June 17, he was 0-1 with a blown save, 3 holds, 5.06 ERA, and was hit by opposing batters at a .338 clip and a .923 OPS. Since then, Bleier is 2-0 with 2 blown saves, one hold, a 2.57 ERA, and has yielded a .286 batting average and a .757 OPS.
  • P Kenny Rosenberg (Angels), who made his MLB debut in April, got his third call-up in June — and the opportunity to make his first Major League start. The rookie had his best outing yet, yielding 2 hits and 3 walks over 4.2 innings and striking out one en route to a 4-0 win over the Mariners on June 19. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop Anaheim from sending him down afterward.
  • P Eli Morgan (Indians) has been two different pitchers this season. Through June 17, he was 2-2 with one blown save, 6 holds, a 1.71 ERA, 39 strikeouts and just 5 walks across 31.2 innings, and had held opponents to a remarkable .117 batting average and .403 OPS. Since then, Morgan has gone 2-1 with 3 blown saves, 4 holds, an 8.50 ERA, 19 strikeouts and 3 walks across 18 innings, and has given up a .304 batting average and a .988 OPS.

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By Scott Barancik, editor

It’s been just 10 days since we reported that four current MLB players had committed to represent Israel at the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

The quartet included starting pitcher Dean Kremer (Orioles), reliever Richard Bleier (Marlins), and two star outfielders: slugger and World Series hero Joc Pederson (Giants), and Gold Glove winner Harrison Bader (Cardinals).

Now, Jewish Baseball News can confirm that Kevin Pillar (Dodgers) has agreed to complete Israel’s outfield trio — that is, if he’s healthy enough to play. The fearless-bordering-on-reckless Pillar dislocated his shoulder twice during a June 1 game against the Pirates and later underwent season-ending surgery.

Stay tuned to Jewish Baseball News for more updates on Team Israel, along with regular news on MLB and minor-league Jews.

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Israel’s roster swelling with stars

By Scott Barancik, editor

The last time Israel played in the World Baseball Classic — which also happened to be the first time, in 2017 — the biggest names on its roster were Ike Davis, Sam Fuld, and Jason Marquis, all of whom had retired from pro ball.

The 2023 WBC will be different.

Last week, Team Israel manager Ian Kinsler revealed that slugger Joc Pederson — dubbed “Joctober” for his World Series heroics — will play outfield at the quadrennial tourney, in March. Since then, Jewish Baseball News has learned of at least three other current Major Leaguers who will join the Giants’ left fielder:

  • OF Harrison Bader (Cardinals). A 3rd-round pick in the 2015 draft, Bader made quick work of the minors and went on to finish #6 in voting for 2018 N.L. Rookie of the Year. An elite gloveman, he is one of just three N.L. centerfielders who have yet to make an error in 2022.
  • P Dean Kremer (Orioles). The son of Israelis who moved to the U.S. after completing their military service, Kremer is 3-1 with a 2.59 ERA in 8 starts this season. At one juncture in 2022, he recorded an eye-popping 23.1 straight scoreless innings.
  • P Richard Bleier (Marlins). A middle reliever who recorded sub-2.00 ERAs in each of his first three Major League seasons, Bleier has a career record of 14-5 with a 3.08 ERA and just 1.185 walks/hits per inning.

All but Bader have donned the blue-and-white uniform before, although as minor leaguers. Pederson and Bleier competed for Israel in the qualifiers for the 2013 WBC. Kremer pitched in the 2017 tournament.

Still more Major Leaguers are expected to join Israel’s roster in the weeks and months to come. “We have been in contact with all of the available players, and Joc is going to talk to them as well,” Kinsler said. “There is a whole winter and offseason as well to communicate with them.”

Who can we thank for this largesse? Kinsler has played a key role. A 4-time All-Star and 2-time Gold Glove winner who competed in the 2018 World Series and currently serves as special assistant for baseball operations and player development with the San Diego Padres, Kinsler brings star power and credibility to the team. Add to that his growing appreciation for the country and ongoing relationships with Major League athletes, and you have a manager who can recruit.

Peter Kurz, Team Israel’s general manager and president of the Israel Association of Baseball, has been cultivating relationships with Jewish ballplayers for more than a decade. For evidence of his persuasive power, look no further than the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, when Kurz did the unimaginable: convincing more than a dozen American Jews, including Kinsler, to obtain Israeli citizenship. (Unlike the WBC, Olympic rules requires athletes to be citizens of the country they play for.)

The final piece in the recruiting puzzle? Team Israel itself. Prior to the 2017 WBC, Israel’s baseball team was ranked #41 in the world. Convincing MLB talent to join its roster was a tall order, especially if they had a chance to play for Team USA.

Things rapidly improved, however. After finishing 6th among 16 teams at the 2017 WBC, Israel climbed from the depths of the European B Pool to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, finished 5th there, and concluded the 2021 European Championships in 2nd place.

Team Israel will need all the talent it can muster to achieve success at the 2023 WBC. Currently ranked #20 in the world, Israel has been assigned to Pool D, which includes 2013 WBC champion Dominican Republic; 2017 WBC runner-up Puerto Rico; and Venezuela, the world’s 6th-ranked team. If Israel gets out of there alive, even tougher opponents lie ahead, including juggernauts USA (which won the 2017 WBC) and Japan.

But the addition of Pederson, Kremer, Bleier, and Bader — who has yet to publicly declare himself exclusively Jewish, and thus is not listed by Jewish Baseball News — is a big step forward for Israel baseball.

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Bubby Rossman makes MLB debut

By Scott Barancik, editor

After one of the most improbable call-ups of 2022, P Bubby Rossman made his Major League debut Wednesday night with the Philadelphia Phillies (July 13).

The circumstances were unusual. Four Phillies, including two pitchers, were ineligible to play the Blue Jays in Canada — where COVID laws are stiffer — because they were unvaccinated. Philadelphia filled one of the temporary slots with Rossman, a Double-A righthander who, until this season, hadn’t played MLB-affiliated ball since 2016.

Rossman took the mound in the 8th inning. Things didn’t go well at first. The 30-year-old walked Alejandro Kirk on five pitches. Next up came Teoscar Hernandez, who powered a 2-1 fastball over the right-field fence.

On his website, Bubby Rossman (above) says he has “low miles on a very powerful arm”

But a mound visit appeared to calm him down. Rossman retired the next three batters on just 9 pitches, including a 98-mph, four-seam fastball to strike out Matt Chapman (see video).

Making the outing even more memorable was the fact that Rossman’s batterymate was Jewish catcher Garrett Stubbs.

The one-inning stint left Rossman with quintessentially Jewish statistics: an 18.00 ERA on 18 total pitches. After the game, he and his fellow replacement pitcher were sent back down to the minors, as expected.

Thus ended the latest chapter in the unlikely career of Charles Rossman III, a 6-foot-5 righthander with dual U.S. and Israeli citizenship and a vegan diet that helps him stay trim.

Drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2014, Rossman got no further than High-A before his release in 2016. Except for representing Israel in the 2021 European Championships, a high point in his baseball arc, Rossman was relegated to independent-league teams, including ones in Mexico and Canada and another called the Nerds.

Yet the California native wasn’t ready to give up on his dream. According to a January 2022 article in NBCSports: “Rossman worked with several data- and technology-based training outfits, including Driveline and Tread Athletics. He refined his mechanics and got in better shape. He worked with throwing guru Tom House, whose clients include Tom Brady and Cole Hamels, and lately has trained with ageless former big-league pitcher Joe Beimel, who made a comeback at age 44 last season.”

To tout his growing skills, Rossman also created a website. “It should be noted that Bub has low miles on a very powerful arm and is healthy both in his career and lifestyle,” he wrote. “Passion, persistence, perseverance.”

What led the Phillies to make the call no other team had since 2016? Jewish Baseball News hasn’t a clue. It’s worth noting that Phillies vice president and general manager Sam Fuld himself represented Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

For now, Rossman is back in Double-A, where he also is breaking ground. A career reliever dating back to his days at Cal State Dominguez Hills, Rossman has started 8 games this season for the Reading Fightin Phils, during which he has recorded a 2.25 ERA, fanned 21 in 16 innings, and held batters to a meek .148 average.

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Minor League Update

By Scott Barancik, Editor

It’s been two months since Jewish Baseball News brought you up to date on how our minor leaguers are doing. Here are some highlights through games played July 7, 2022:

Mazel Tov

  • Every year, 50 of the top prospects in the minor-league system are chosen to play in the MLB All-Star Futures Game. The only Atlanta Braves farmhand to make the cut in 2022 is P Jared Shuster (AA/Mississippi Braves), a 1st-round pick in the 2020 draft and Atlanta’s #8 prospect, according to MLB.com. Shuster ranks #5 in the Southern League in ERA (3.13), #3 in WHIP (1.04), #4 in innings pitched, and #3 in strikeouts. The Futures Games takes place July 16 at Dodger Stadium. Side note: former MLB star Shawn Green will serve as the hitting coach for Shuster’s National League team.
  • 1B Spencer Horwitz (Blue Jays/AAA/Buffalo Bisons) was named Eastern League (AA) Player of the Week for June 6-12, during which he hit .450 (9-for-20) with a HR, 3 doubles, 4 RBIs, a .577 OBP (on-base percentage), and a 1.477 OPS (on-base plus slugging). That wasn’t the end of Horwitz’s good news, either. On July 1, the Radford University alum went 5-for-6 with a HR, 2 doubles, and 5 RBIs on July 1. Six days later, he made his Triple-A debut, going 4-for-8 with 2 doubles in a July 7 doubleheader. Not bad for an athlete who wasn’t selected until the 24th round of the 2019 draft.
  • OF Hunter Bishop (Giants/High-A/Eugene Emeralds) has yet to live up to the promise of being picked #10 overall in the 2019 draft, but the 6-foot-5-inch outfielder appears poised to break out. Bishop was named Northwest League Player of the Week for June 20-26, hitting .381 (8-for-21) with 2 HRs (including a grand slam), a triple, 10 RBIs, a stolen base, .458 OBP, and 1.220 OPS.
  • P Colton Gordon (Astros/Rookie/FCL Astros Orange) was the last of 2021’s Jewish draftees to appear on the field. The 6-foot-4-inch southpaw underwent Tommy John surgery two months before the draft and has been recovering ever since. But Gordon finally made his pro debut on June 13. Through four appearances, he is 0-1 with a 0.00 ERA and has held opposing batters to a .120 average, yielded just 3 hits and a walk over 7 combined innings, and struck out 11 batters.

At the plate

  • 3B/2B Zack Gelof (Athletics/AA/Midland RockHounds) had rocketed through Oakland’s minor-league system since the A’s selected him in the 2nd round of the 2021 draft. Now ranked the club’s #3 prospect by MLB.com, Gelof has excelled this season, hitting .316 (53-for-168) with 4 HRs, 26 RBIs, 8 stolen bases, and a .371 OBP. Some more optimistic observers foresaw the 6-foot-3-inch Gelof not only advancing to Triple-A this season but possibly Oakland. Unfortunately, a recent injury — torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder — hit “pause” on Gelof’s ascent.
  • 1B Matt Mervis (Cubs/AA/Tennessee Smokies) was selected out of high school in the 39th round of the 2016 draft but instead went to Duke University, where he started out as a pitcher. Four years later, the Cubs signed him as an undrafted free agent, and boy, has that proved to be a smart move. After a lackluster debut in 2021, Mervis began the 2022 season in High-A, where he hit a sizzling .350 with 7 HRs, 29 RBIs, and a 1.039 OPS. He’s been nearly as productive since a promotion to Double-A, hitting .312 with 13 HRs, 44 RBIs, and a 1.001 OPS. Mervis’s total of 20 HRs ranks him #10 (tied) among all minor leaguers.
  • May 22 was a memorable day for C CJ Stubbs (Astros/High-A/Asheville Tourists) and big-league brother Garrett Stubbs (Phillies), as both homered. CJ wasn’t done with the long ball, though. From June 29 to July 3, the USC alum homered in four straight games.

On the mound

  • Angels rookie P Kenny Rosenberg (Angels/AAA/Salt Lake Bees) got his third call-up of the year on June 19, and just like the two prior promotions, he made one appearance and was sent back to Triple-A the following day. But Rosenberg’s most recent demotion was a bit puzzling, given his performance: 4.2 scoreless innings marked by 2 hits, 3 walks, and a strikeout.
  • Could P Jake Fishman (Marlins/AAA/Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp) be the next Jewish minor leaguer to make his MLB debut this season? Setting aside the status of Miami’s depth chart, Fishman would seem a good candidate. The 6-foot-3-inch middle reliever is 3-0 with one save, a 1.88 ERA, and 36 strikeouts in 38.1 innings. Fishman’s WHIP (walks/hits per inning) of .097 ranks #9 among International League pitchers who have tossed at least 30 innings.
  • P Kyle Molnar (Angels/High-A/Tri-City Dust Devils) didn’t have a promising rookie season in 2021. After a decent start in High-A, the UCLA alum was trounced in Double-A, going 0-2 with a 13.21 ERA, yielding 2.62 WHIP, and being hit by opposing batters at a .400 clip. Talk about your turnarounds. In 18 games across Low-A and High-A this season, Molnar is 4-0 with a 2.14 ERA and has held opponents to 1.13 WHIP and .190 batting average.
  • P Bubby Rossman (Phillies/AA/Reading Fightin Phils) played for Israel in the 2021 European Championships, but by then he hadn’t played affiliated ball since 2016. The tide turned in late 2021, when Philadelphia signed Rossman as a free agent and, in April 2022, plunked him down in Double-A. Rossman has acquitted himself well so far, going 2-2 with one save, a 3.58 ERA, modest 1.27 WHIP, and 44 strikeouts in 37.2 innings. And he’s been steadily improving, lowering his ERA from 7.84 in April to 2.03 in May and 1.50 in June.

Other news

  • More bad luck for P Sam Delaplane (Giants/Low-A/San Jose Giants). Once ranked as high as #20 on MLB.com’s list of the Mariners’ top prospects, the reliever has dominated batters since 2017, going 12-6 with 17 saves, a 2.56 ERA, and jaw-dropping average of 15.3 strikeouts per 9 innings. But Tommy John surgery cost the Eastern Michigan alum nearly three years of his career, and an ill-fated rehab stint this season recently ended with a forearm strain.
  • 2B Tyler Krieger (Braves/AA/Mississippi Braves), who played for Team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, has retired after a 6-year career. A 4th-round pick in the 2015 draft, Krieger was named the 10th-best minor-league second baseman in 2017 by MLB.com. He finished his pro career with a .250 average in 1,775 at-bats.

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MLB Update

Garrett Stubbs (Phillies) celebrates after hitting a 3-run, walk-off HR on June 15

Many readers have expressed regret that Jewish Baseball News is no longer producing weekly MLB summaries. We hope someday to resume that level of activity. For now, however, the best we can do is produce occasional updates — such as the one below — and encourage you to follow our posts on social media.

Jewish Baseball News also is fully aware that our home page, with the exception of the Jewish Box Score and Season Stats tables, mostly contains dated content. Some day — with time, money, and external expertise — we hope to replace it with something more useful.

In the meantime, thank you for asking us to do more. We take that as a compliment.

Now, onto the update.

Stats thru 6/17/2022

Season overview

  • Simply and crudely put, Jewish pitchers are kicking ass in 2022. Through June 17, they were a combined 11-8 with a 4.83 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 3.05 ERA, substantially below the MLB average of 3.90.
  • Jewish batters are hitting a combined .245 so far this season, modestly better than the MLB average of .241. They also are hitting HRs at a far faster clip than the Majors as a whole — one for every 19.1 at-bats, versus one in 32.2 ABs.

Stats to share

  • Through games played June 17, OF Joc Pederson (Giants) had hit one home run for every 11.4 ABs, ranking him #1 among N.L. players with at least 150 ABs. Meanwhile, Pederson’s career average of 16.9 ABs per home run ranks #5 among all active MLB players.
  • Among active MLB pitchers with at least 50 career decisions, Max Fried (Braves) ranks #2 in win-loss percentage, at .702 (47-20).
  • Despite technically still being a rookie, sophomore pitcher Scott Effross (Cubs) has been a workhorse. His 31 appearances rank #1 among N.L. hurlers this season.

At the plate

  • Despite serving in a backup role, C Garrett Stubbs (Phillies) is winning fans in his new home town of Philadelphia. After three years in Houston, where he hit just .182 (14-for-77) with 0 HRs and 6 RBIs, the 29-year-old has upped his game, hitting .317 (13-for-41) with 3 HRs, 7 extra-base hits, a .404 OBP, and a 1.036 OPS (on-base plus slugging). Perhaps the greatest moment of Stubbs’ career came on June 15, when he hit a 3-run, walk-off HR against the Marlins, sparking a debate as to whether Stubbs’ post-HR celebration was the best of the year. (Click here to see him discuss the HR and receive a Gatorade bath.) On June 12, Stubbs took the mound for an inning, yielding a solo HR in a 13-1 loss to Arizona.
  • LF Joc Pederson (Giants), who has earned two World Series rings in a row (Dodgers in 2020, Braves in 2021), is hitting a career-best .269 (43-for-160) with 14 HRs, 34 RBIs, a .343 OBP, and a career-best .905 OPS. Three of his HRs came on May 24, a night he went 4-for-6 with 8 RBIs. San Francisco would appear to be getting a bargain with Pederson, who has a one-year, $6-million contract.
  • CF Kevin Pillar (Dodgers) has had an excellent season in Triple-A but played just four games in the Majors, hitting. 083 (1-for-12) with a double and a walk. He did make a remarkable catch on May 29, however, one that Statcast said had only a 20% probability of success.
  • 1B Rowdy Tellez (Brewers) is hitting .252 (55-for-218) with 10 HRs, a team-high 38 RBIs, a .314 OBP, and a .768 OPS. Tellez was named N.L. Player of the Week in early May after hitting .500 (12-for-24) with an MLB-best 1.580 OPS — not bad for a 6-foot-4, 255-pound man. The highlight was a historic performance on May 4, when Tellez went 4-for-6 with 2 HRs (including a grand slam), a double that was just a few feet short of a second grand slam, and a team-record 8 RBIs. Click here to see a recent interview with the 27-year-old California native.
  • After beginning the season with a bang — he won the first A.L. Player of the Week award in 2022 — Alex Bregman (Astros) is hitting a career-low .216 (47-for-218) with 7 HRs, 30 RBIs, a .336 OBP, and a .712 OPS.

On the mound

  • Max Fried (Braves) lost his first two starts of the season but has gone 7-0 since then, leaving him with a 7-2 record, a 2.90 ERA (#10 in the N.L.), a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 5.769 (#3), and 1.054 walks/hits per inning (#10).
  • As a rookie starter in 2021, Eli Morgan (Indians) struggled, going 5-7 with a 5.34 ERA — which makes his 2022 reincarnation as a middle reliever that much more astonishing. And don’t let his 2-2 record fool you. Among all N.L. pitchers with at least 30 innings under their belt this season, the 26-year-old right hander ranks #1 in opponent batting average (.114), #1 in walks/hits per innings (0.54), #3 in strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.80), #4 in ERA (1.71), #8 in walks per 9 innings (1.42), and #8 in strikeouts per 9 innings (11.08).
  • Scott Effross (Cubs) is 1-2 with a 3.10 ERA (#2 among all Chicago pitchers), 37 strikeouts and just 7 walks across 29 innings, and a WHIP (walks/hit per inning) of 1.172.
  • An injury kept Dean Kremer (Orioles) out of the lineup until early June, but the Israeli-American has gotten better in each of his three starts, culminating with a shutout of the Rays on June 17. For the season, Kremer is 1-1 with a 2.35 ERA, 10 strikeouts and 4 walks across 15.1 innings, and a 1.175 WHIP.
  • Richard Bleier (Marlins) is enduring the toughest trial of his 7-year career. Despite entering the season with a career record of 12-4 and a 2.96 ERA, the 6-for-3-inch southpaw is 0-1 in 2022, with a 4.76 ERA and a 1.647 WHIP.
  • Kenny Rosenberg (Angels) made his MLB debut in 2022 — click here to see his first strikeout — but he hasn’t had much chance to develop his stuff. Rosenberg tossed one inning on April 18 and 5 innings on May 31, and both times he was demoted the following day. For the season, the 26-year-old is 0-0 with a 7.50 ERA, 7 strikeouts and 3 walks across 6 innings, and a 1.667 WHIP.

On the mend

  • P Ryan Sherriff (Phillies), recovering from a left shoulder strain, began a series of minor-league rehab assignments on June 9. In 4 appearances across three leagues, Sherriff is 1-0 with 2 holds, a 1.00 WHIP, and 7 strikeouts over 4 combined innings.

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Minor-League Update

By Scott Barancik, Editor

A total of 33 Jewish players have played minor-league ball in 2022. Here are some highlights through games played May 10:

At the plate

  • 3B Zack Gelof (Athletics/AA/Midland RockHounds) is only 22 years old, but the 2021 draftee is tearing up the Texas League (AA) like an old pro. The University of Virginia alum is hitting .339 (ranked #6) with 4 HRs, 22 RBIs (#6), 5 stolen bases, a .391 on-base percentage, and a .517 slugging percentage in 118 at-bats. He’s had two 2-HR games this season.
  • 1B Matt Mervis (Cubs/High-A/South Bend Cubs) was selected out of high school in the 39th round of the 2016 draft, the 1,174th pick out of 1,216 players. Still only 24 years old, the 6’4″ lefty is off to a fast start in 2022. Mervis is hitting .313 with 7 HRs (#4/tied), 26 RBIs (#2), a .363 OBP. and a .627 SLG in just 83 ABs. Like Gelof, he’s had two 2-HR games this season.
  • Two former Major Leaguers working hard to get back to the MLB are making a strong case. OF Kevin Pillar (Dodgers/AAA/Oklahoma City Dodgers) is hitting .319 with 7 HRs (#3/tied), 25 RBIs (#3/tied), 13 walks against 9 strikeouts, a .407 OBP (#7), and a .638 SLG (#3) in 94 ABs. Meanwhile, C Ryan Lavarnway (Tigers/AAA/Toledo Mud Hens) is hitting .324 (#9) with 2 HRs, 10 RBIs, a .413 OBP, and a .515 SLG in 68 ABs.

On the mound

  • Jared Shuster (Braves/AA/Mississippi Braves), just 23 years old, is 2-2 in 5 starts with a 1.84 ERA (4th/tied), 0.78 walks/hits per inning (#1), 34 strikeouts in 29.1 innings, and just 5 walks.
  • Kyle Molnar (Angels/Low-A/Inland Empire 66ers), 25, is 1-0 in 6 relief appearances with a 1.42 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 12 strikeouts against 3 walks. He was promoted to the Tri-City Dust Devils (High-A) on May 9.
  • Kenny Rosenberg (Angels/AAA/Salt Lake Bees), 26, made his MLB debut on April 18 before being sent back to AAA, where he is 0-0 in 3 starts with a 0.76 ERA and is averaging 11.68 strikeouts per 9 innings.
  • Jake Fishman (Marlins/AAA/Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp), 27, is in his second season at AAA. He is a perfect 3-0 with one save, a 2.81 ERA, and a WHIP of 1.00.

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Kenny Rosenberg makes MLB debut

The Los Angeles Angels welcomed P Kenny Rosenberg to the Major Leagues with this Twitter post

By Scott Barancik, editor

In his MLB debut, Kenny Rosenberg got the better of Houston’s Alex Bregman

P Kenny Rosenberg made his MLB debut last night (4/18/2022) with the Los Angeles Angels.

The Angels were down 7-3 to the Houston Astros when they sent the 26-year-old southpaw to the mound in the 8th inning. Rosenberg struck out the first batter he faced on three pitches before yielding one run on a walk and two singles. He retook control by retiring Houston’s Alex Bregman — yes, a fellow Jew — on a two-pitch flyout and then closed out the inning by striking out Yordan Alvarez swinging.

All in all, not a bad start for Rosenberg, a 2016 draftee out of Cal State Northridge whom the Tampa Bay Rays left unprotected in 2021’s Rule 5 draft.

In six minor-league seasons, Rosenberg is 34-17 with 4 saves, a 3.87 ERA, 1.344 WHIP, 9.2 strikeouts per 9 innings, and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.62. He primarily worked as a starter until moving to the bullpen in 2021.

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2022 Preseason update

Despite the will-they-or-won’t-they drama concerning the 2022 MLB season, a lot has happened during the offseason, and Spring Training has sprung. Jewish Baseball News wishes to welcome you back with abbreviated highlights.

Comings and goings

  • OF Joc Pederson signed a one-year contract with the San Francisco Giants. He played for the Chicago Cubs and World Series champion Atlanta Braves in 2021.
  • P Richard Bleier extended his Miami Marlins tenure with a 2-year, $6-million deal.
  • CF Kevin Pillar, who has played for five franchises since leaving the Toronto Blue Jays after the 2018 season, signed a minor-league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
  • C Ryan Lavarnway, who played for Israel in the 2020 Olympics, signed a minor-league contract with the Detroit Tigers. In a recent column penned for the Detroit News, Lavarnway chronicled his crazy love affair with baseball, during which he has “been sent down, traded or released 24 times.”
  • P Ryan Sheriff was selected off waivers by the Philadelphia Phillies.
  • C Garrett Stubbs joined the Philadelphia Phillies after a late-season trade.
  • 2B Ty Kelly, who represented Israel in the 2020 Olympics and last played in the Majors in 2018, has unretired. The 33-year-old signed a minor-league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
  • P Zack Weiss signed a minor-league contract with Los Angeles Angels. Weiss’s sole Major League appearance so far was a one-inning outing with the Cincinnati Reds in 2018.
  • P Robert Stock, who pitched for four MLB teams from 2018 through 2021, signed a one-year deal with the Doosan Bears of South Korea’s KBO League.
  • P Sam Delaplane, a rising star who was felled by Tommy John surgery in 2019, signed a free-agent deal with the San Francisco Giants.
  • P Bubby Rossman, who pitched for Israel in the 2021 European Championships but last played minor-league ball in 2016, signed a minor-league deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Off-field news

  • Brad Ausmus, who managed the Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angels after completing an 18-year Major League career, is the new bench coach for the Oakland A’s.
  • Brad Goldberg, who pitched for the Chicago White Sox in 2017, has joined his hometown Cleveland Guardians organization as a pitching coach.
  • Blake Gailen, a former minor leaguer who played for Israel in the 2020 Olympics, was hired by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a rookie-league hitting coach.
  • Alon Leichman, who played for Israel in the 2020 Olympics, joined the Seattle Mariners as a Double-A pitching coach.

Honors

  • Gabe Kapler was named the National League’s 2022 Manager of the Year after leading the San Francisco Giants to a team-record 107 wins. He is the first Jewish manager to win that award.
  • Max Fried, who helped the Atlanta Braves become World Series champs in 2021, became only the third Major League pitcher since 1980 to earn the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards in the same season.

New face

  • IF Noah Mendlinger, an undrafted free agent who played Single-A ball for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2021, is the most recent addition to Jewish Baseball News’ player list.

College

  • Denison University’s baseball team apparently is a magnet for Jewish athletes. Seven Jews are on the school’s Division III baseball team. A mother of one player says the seven teammates plan to make matzoh ball soup together for Passover.

Spring Training

At least 24 Jewish players had participated in Spring Training so far as of April 1. Some highlights:

  • 3B Alex Bregman (Houston Astros) leads all Jewish players with a .278 average and 3 doubles.
  • 1B Rowdy Tellez (Milwaukee Brewers) is hitting .250 with 2 HRs, a double, 5 RBIs, and a .321 on-base percentage.
  • P Scott Effross, who made his MLB debut with the Chicago Cubs in 2021, has hurled 5 shutout innings over 5 games, yielding 2 hits, 2 walks, and a wild pitch while striking out 5.
  • In a March 25 win over the Yankees, P Ryan Sherriff and C Garrett Stubbs were battery-mates for the Philadelphia Phillies.
  • Among other players with Major-League experience, C Garrett Stubbs (Philadelphia Phillies, OF Joc Pederson (San Francisco Giants), OF Kevin Pillar (Los Angeles Dodgers), C Ryan Lavarnway (Detroit Tigers), P Richard Bleier (Miami Marlins), P Dean Kremer (Baltimore Orioles), P Max Fried (Atlanta Braves), and P Zack Weiss (Los Angeles Angels) all have struggled.
  • Two prospects in the Colorado Rockies’ system have performed well. P Noah Davis has tossed 4 hitless innings over 2 games, yielding one walk while striking out 4. And Brandon Gold has thrown two scoreless innings, yielding one hit while striking out one and earning a win.
  • Two players who were drafted in 2021 have made Spring Training appearances. 3B Zack Gelof (Oakland Athletics), a 2nd-round pick who was a standout in his first minor-league season, is 1-for-6 with a walk. 3B Noah Medlinger (St. Louis Cardinals), an undrafted free agent, is 1-for-1
  • Click here to download an Excel spreadsheet that contains stats through Friday, April 1.

Subscribe to Jewish Sports Review

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By Scott Barancik, Editor

Following a historic appearance in the 2020 Olympics, the Israel Association of Baseball is looking to refresh its roster and build a pipeline of future players.

One solution? Sponsor a series of Player Evaluation Weekends across the U.S. to identify promising high-school athletes.

The first such academy, aimed at scouting ballplayers from Southern California, will be held May 14-15, 2022, at Los Angeles Valley College. A newly-formed group called Israel Baseball Academy will host the event in partnership with Maccabi USA.

Click photo to register

All participants in the showcase weekend will be formally submitted into the Israel Association of Baseball’s player pool. They also will participate in skills testing, receive group and one-on-one instruction, and obtain personalized evaluations from players and coaches associated with Israel’s baseball program, including former MLB pitcher Jon Moscot.

Former MLB pitcher Jon Moscot will be among those hosting the Player Evaluation Weekend on May 14-15, 2022

Athletes will be divided into underclassmen, upperclassmen, and Shomer Shabbat-observant. Registration is $250 per player, and space is limited.

To register, click here.

Like many of his American-born teammates, Moscot says representing Israel in international competition was the most meaningful experience of his baseball career — more so even than playing in the Majors and Minors. “I don’t think people understand what it means until they’re a part of it,” he recalls. “I had the most fun and most memories as a part of this team.”

For more information, visit the Israel Baseball Academy website.

(Note: Jewish Baseball News receives no compensation from the Israel Baseball Academy.)  

For updates on future Player Evaluation Weekends, follow Jewish Baseball news on FacebookTwitter or Instagram, and sign up for our free e-mail service.

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By Scott Barancik, Editor

The Jewish Baseball Card Book, a hardcover history of trading cards covering the 169 Jews who played Major League ball between 1871 and 2016, is now available for just $18. The coffee-table book initially cost $49.95.

You can purchase single copies on Amazon. But the $18 offer expires March 27. And fewer than 200 copies remain.

Bulk pricing is even lower: eight copies for a total of just $54. To inquire, send an email to BaseballCardBook@gmail.com.

Click image to order book
Click image to order

The Jewish Baseball Card Book was written by, and for, baseball lovers.

“What began as a tribute to the history of Jews in baseball through their cards evolved into a history of baseball cards itself,” says Martin Abramowitz, whose not-for-profit Jewish Majors Leaguers helped produce the publication.

The Jewish Baseball Card Book also includes images of Jewish umpires, team owners, general managers and broadcasters. Its author, Jewish Baseball Museum curator Bob Wechsler, calls the tome “a collector’s Bible.”

Old Testament, of course.

(Note: Jewish Baseball News receives no compensation from sales of The Jewish Baseball Card Book.)  

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Introducing: top prospect Spencer Horwitz

In 2021, just his second season as a pro, Blue Jays prospect Spencer Horwitz was named the Northwest League’s Top MLB Prospect

By Scott Barancik, editor

Spencer Horwitz, a surging prospect with the Toronto Blue Jays franchise, is the latest minor-league player to be identified as Jewish.

The Jays got a bargain when they plucked Horwitz out of Radford University in the 24th round of the 2019 amateur draft. In just two seasons — 2020 was wiped out by the COVID-19 epidemic — the 6’0″ first baseman has defied all expectations.

2021 proved to be Horwitz’s breakout year. Playing for the Vancouver Canadians, Toronto’s High-A team, he hit .290 with 10 HRs, 62 RBIs, and a .401 on-base percentage. Highlights included a 28-game hitting streak — breaking a Northwest League record that had stood nearly 60 years — and a League-leading 70 walks against just 66 strikeouts.

For his efforts, Horwitz was named the Northwest League’s 2021 Top MLB Prospect and then sent off to the prestigious Arizona Fall League, where he finished #4 with a .375 batting average.

Now 24, the Maryland native is likely to begin the 2022 season with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the Double-A team with whom he finished 2021.

Please join us in welcoming Spencer.

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2021 MLB wrap

Max Fried (Braves) tossed 6 scoreless innings in Game 6 to help Atlanta become the 2021 World Series champs

Here is your summary for the week of November 1-7, plus other news and stats from the 2021 season

World Series

  • Max Fried (Braves) tossed 6 shutout innings on November 2, leading Atlanta to a 7-0 win over the Houston Astros — and the club’s first World Series championship since 1999. Fried yielded 4 hits and zero walks while striking out 6.

Mazel tov

  • For the second season in a row, P Max Fried (Braves) has received the N.L. Gold Glove award, issued to the best-fielding player at each position. Click here to see a few examples of Fried’s glove work.

Stats to share: World Series

  • With his Game 6 win, Max Fried (Braves) became the fourth Jewish pitcher in MLB history to win the deciding game in a World Series. According to historian Bob Wechsler, Fried is preceded by Ken Holtzman (Athletics, 1973), Sandy Koufax (Dodgers, 1963 and 1965), and Larry Sherry (Dodgers, 1959). Sherry, who pitched alongside Koufax in the 1959 World Series, went 2-0 with 2 saves and was named World Series MVP.
  • Fried’s performance in Game 6 left him in rare company. According to JBN reader Dean R., Dodgers legend Sandy Koufax is the only other Jewish pitcher in MLB history to toss 6 or more shutout innings in a World Series game. Koufax tossed back-to-back, complete-game shutouts in the 1965 Series.
  • The 2021 World Series was the first in MLB history to feature four Jewish players: RF Joc Pederson (Braves), P Max Fried (Braves), 3B Alex Bregman (Astros), and C Garrett Stubbs (Astros). Stubbs was a 9th-inning defensive replacement in Game 6.
  • Three of the four Jewish players in the 2021 World Series came together on the same play in Game 6. In the bottom of the 2nd inning, Bregman (Astros) came to the plate to face Fried (Braves). On Fried’s second pitch, Bregman lofted a foul ball that was caught by right fielder Pederson (Braves).
  • Pederson (Braves) is only the 9th player in MLB history to win back-to-back World Series with different teams (2020 Dodgers, 2021 Braves).

Other stats to share

  • Since becoming a full-time starter in 2019, Fried leads all MLB pitchers with 16 defensive runs saved, according to MLB.com.
  • P Richard Bleier (Marlins) yielded just 0.93 walks per 9 innings in 2021, best in the National League. Moreover, three of the 6 walks he yielded over 58 innings were intentional. That wasn’t Bleier’s only stellar stat among N.L. pitchers in 2021. According to JBN contributor Jack W., the 34-year-old reliever had the league’s highest ground-ball percentage (65.5%), lowest fly-ball percentage (14.9%), highest first-ball strike percentage (71.1%), and the second-best strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.33). Bleier also induced batters to swing at non-strike pitches 42.1% of the time, second-most in the National League.

Other news

  • RF Joc Pederson (Braves), who was traded to Atlanta in July and played with the team in the 2021 World Series, is a free agent after declining a mutual option in his contract last week.
  • CF Kevin Pillar (Mets), who joined New York as a free agent in 2021, is a free agent again after declining a mutual option in his contract. The 32-year-old journeyman has played for 5 franchises over the last 3 seasons.
  • The Phillies claimed P Ryan Sherriff (Rays) off waivers. In 2020, Sherriff tossed 9.2 scoreless innings during the regular season and appeared in the World Series. He was 0-1 with a save and a 5.52 ERA in 2021.

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World Series update (October 25-31, 2021)

Game 2 marked the first time in World Series history that a Jewish batter (Alex Bregman) faced a Jewish pitcher (Max Fried)

Here is your summary for the week of October 25-31, which saw Houston take on Atlanta in the first 5 games of the 202`1 World Series:

 

L’sholom

  • Tyler Herron, a former 1st-round draft pick who reached as high as Triple-A, died October 27 at age 35. According to JTA, Herron was of Puerto Rican descent but discovered in 2014 that he had a Jewish grandmother. He later called pitching for Team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic “the best experience I’ve ever had in baseball.” Herron most recently played for the independent Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks and for Atenienses de Manati of the Puerto Rican Winter League. “He was a tremendous teammate,” said Yamil Benitez, president of the Puerto Rico Players Association. “The time he was with us contributed not only on the field but also away from it. If you are looking for someone who speaks something negative about him, you may not find him.”
Four athletes playing in the 2021 World Series, including Atlanta’s William Contreras, are wearing custom sneakers produced by minor-league pitcher Alex Katz’s company

Mazel tov

  • Many Jewish pitchers and batters have played in a World Series, but Game 2 of this year’s matchup marked the first time a Jewish batter has ever faced a Jewish pitcher. Here’s how Alex Bregman (HOU) fared against Max Fried (ATL): 1st inning, sacrifice fly; 2nd inning, strikeout; 5th inning, groundout.
  • C Garrett Stubbs was added to Houston’s roster before Game 4 when a teammate was removed due to COVID-19 protocols. “It’s exciting,” Stubbs said. “Obviously, you dreamed about it as a little kid.” He did not play in Games 4 or 5.
  • RF Joc Pederson (Braves) — or more likely a ghostwriter — recently penned a column for The Players Tribune. In it, Pederson described being traded from Chicago to Atlanta, and the ways he helped inspire a fun, winning attitude in the Braves’ clubhouse.
  • P Alex Katz (Cubs/Double-A/Tennessee Smokies), an active minor-leaguer who played for Israel in the 2020 Summer Olympics, is not playing in the World Series, but his sneakers are on the field. Three members of the Braves and one Astro are wearing custom, hand-painted shoes created by Katz’s start-up, Stadium Custom Kicks.

At the plate

  • 3B Alex Bregman (Astros) hit .111 (2-for-18) last week with a double, 2 walks, a hit-by-pitch, 2 RBIs, and a .227 on-base percentage (OBP). In two prior World Series with Houston (2017 and 2019), Bregman hit .220 with 5 HRs, a double, a stolen base, 4 walks, and 13 RBIs.
  • OF Joc Pederson (Braves) hit .091 (1-for-11) with a walk, hit-by-pitch, and a .231 OBP. In three prior World Series with the Dodgers (2017, 2018 and 2020), “Joctober” hit .275 with 5 HRs, 2 doubles, 4 walks, and 9 RBIs.
  • P Max Fried (Braves) went 0-for-1 on October 21.

On the mound

  • Max Fried (Braves) struggled in a Game 2 loss on October 21, yielding 6 earned runs over 5 innings on 7 hits, a walk, and 6 strikeouts. He is scheduled to start Game 6 on Tuesday, November 2.

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Playoffs update (October 18-24, 2021)

Joc Pederson and Max Fried are featured in this World Series promo photo

Here is your summary for the week of October 18-24, which saw Houston defeat Boston to in the A.L. Championship Series and Atlanta beat Los Angeles in the N.L. Championship Series. Game 1 of the World Series takes place tonight in Houston:

 

Mazel tov

  • Max Fried (Braves) is one of four pitchers to be named a finalist for the N.L. Silver Slugger Award. Fried hit .273 (15-for-55) this season, with 3 doubles, 5 RBIs, and .322 OBP (on-base percentage). He hit particularly well against lefties (.400), at home (.393), in high-leverage situations (.500), and with runners in scoring position (.333). Fried also went 2-for-2 with a double and an RBI as a pinch-hitter.

Stats to Share

  • At least three Jewish players are on World Series rosters: P Max Fried (Braves), OF Joc Pederson (Braves), and 3B Alex Bregman (Astros). It’s unclear whether C Garrett Stubbs (Astros) will make the trip.
  • The last Jewish player to pitch in a World Series was in 2020. Ryan Sherriff (Rays) tossed a scoreless inning in Game 3 and again in Game 5.

At the plate

  • 3B Alex Bregman (Astros) hit .200 (3-for-15) last week with a HR, RBI, 333 OBP, and .733 OPS.
  • OF Joc Pederson (Braves) did not look like the “Joctober” we have come to expect. He hit .200 (3-for-15) with 2 RBIs, a hit-by-pitch, .294 OBP, and .494 OPS.
  • P Max Fried (Braves) went 0-for-1 on October 21.

On the mound

  • Max Fried (Braves) had a rare “off” day on October 21, yielding 5 earned runs on 8 hits and 2 walks over 4.2 innings to earn a loss against the Dodgers.

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Welcome, Eli Morgan!

Eli Morgan (Indians) is the latest Major Leaguer to be identified as Jewish

By Scott Barancik, editor

Eli Morgan, a rookie pitcher with the Cleveland Indians, is the latest Major Leaguer to be identified as Jewish.

A 25-year-old California native, Morgan was plucked out of Gonzaga University in the 8th round of the 2017 draft. The 5’10” righty made quick work of Cleveland’s farm system and proceeded to make his MLB debut on May 28, 2021.

That first appearance, a start against the Toronto Blue Jays, was not his finest moment. But Morgan didn’t crumble. Instead, he improved his ERA every month from May to September and won each of his final three starts. Morgan recorded a 2.55 ERA over those three games, held opponents to a meager .400 slugging percentage, and struck out 11 batters while walking just one.

How was Morgan’s Jewish lineage discovered? The Peninsula High School alum told Indians catcher and Team Israel member Ryan Lavarnway that his father is Jewish. Jewish Baseball News caught wind of the exchange, and together with our friends at Jewish Sports Review we confirmed Morgan’s eligibility.

Notably, Lavarnway went on to catch four of Morgan’s 18 starts during the 2021 season, making them the most recent example of Jewish batterymates.

The pair’s history-making didn’t stop there, however. In a June 22 matchup against Chicago, Morgan faced Cubs LF Joc Pederson three times with Lavarnway behind the plate.

Morgan got the best of the first two exchanges, striking out Pederson in the 1st inning and 4th inning. But Pederson exacted revenge in the 6th inning with a 2-run double.

Please join us in welcoming Eli.

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Playoffs update (October 12-17, 2021)

Joc Pederson’s October 17 home run is the longest so far of the 2021 playoffs

Here are your playoff stats for October 12-17, a 6-day period that included the A.L. and N.L. Division Series and the beginning of the leagues’ respective Championship Series:

 

Stats to Share

  • Through October 17, Jewish players had 2 of the 4 longest HRs in the 2021 playoffs. OF Joc Pederson (Braves) led the pack with a towering 454-foot shot in Game 2 of the NLCS, while 1B Rowdy (Brewers) came in at #4 with a 448-footer in Game 4 of the NLDS.
  • In his first two playoff starts in 2021, P Max Fried (Braves) struck out 14 batters over 12 innings without yielding a single walk.
  • At .690 (40-18), Max Fried (Braves) has amassed the #2 regular-season winning percentage of any pitcher in Atlanta history. Fried ranks just below Russ Ortiz (.692) and just above Hall of Famer Greg Maddux (.688).
  • Jewish Baseball News wishes to extend a special thanks to Jack W. for providing many of the “Stats to share” we post here.

At the plate

  • OF Joc Pederson (Braves) hit just .182 (2-for-11) from October 12 to October 17, but that included a clutch HR in Game 2 of the NLCS that tied the score 2-2. Atlanta went on to beat the Dodgers 5-4 in a walk-off win. The Braves lead the series 2-0.
  • 1B Rowdy Tellez (Brewers) went 1-for-4 with a game-tying, 2-run HR on October 12. Milwaukee went on to lose that game 5-4, thus ending the team’s 2021 playoff run. Milwaukee beat Atlanta in the first game of the NLDS but lost the final three.
  • 3B Alex Bregman (Astros) hit .231 (3-for-13) with a double, 2 RBIs, and a .286 OBP. Houston and Boston are tied 1-1 in the ALCS.
  • P Max Fried (Braves) went 0-for-2 on October 16.

On the mound

  • Max Fried (Braves) yielded 2 earned runs over 6 innings on October 16, giving up 8 hits and no walks while striking out 5. Atlanta went on to beat Los Angeles 3-2 in Game 1 of the N.L. Championship Series, but Fried didn’t get the decision.

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Playoffs update (October 4-11, 2021)

Joc Pederson’s pinch-hit, 3-run on October 11 powered Atlanta’s 3-0 win over Milwaukee

Here are your playoff stats for the six days from October 12-17, a period that includes both the A.L. and N.L. Division Series and the beginning of the leagues’ Champion Series.

OF Joc Pederson (Braves)

Pederson hit only .182 (2-for-11), but his clutch HR in Game 2 of the NLCS against Los Angeles tied the score 2-2. Atlanta went on to get a walk-off win.

The chunky lefty’s first season with Atlanta — the club acquired him from the Cubs in a July 2021 trade — has been no different. No longer a regular starter, Pederson has embraced his bench role with characteristic gusto and become a favorite not only with fans but also his teammates.

Pederson was nothing short of heroic in the in the first three games of Atlanta’s N.L. Division Series matchup against Milwaukee. The 29-year-old went 3-for-3 as a pinch hitter with 2 HRs and 4 RBIs.

Monday’s round-tripper (October 11) accounted for all three Braves runs in a 3-0 win over Milwaukee. Superlatives followed.

“He brings so much energy to our team,” Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson told MLB.com after the game. “I told him the other day that no environment ever dictates who he is. He’s the same guy in every situation. And I feel like that’s one of the reasons why he’s so successful come this time of year.”

“That guy’s got no heartbeat at all,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker added. “It’s like he’s on the playground. Playing against him in the postseason the last few years, you could tell that.”

P Max Fried (Braves)

Fried, Pederson’s teammate, has been no less clutch.

The lanky southpaw dominated Milwaukee in an October 9 shutout, yielding just 3 hits and no walks over 6 scoreless innings while striking out 9 batters.

Atlanta reliever Tyler Matzek called Fried “a guy that’s been absolutely dominating games that we need to win.”

1B Rowdy Tellez (Brewers)

Tellez hit .286 (2-for-7) against Atlanta in Milwaukee’s first 3 playoffs games, including a solo home run on October 8. The 411-foot shot came off his bat at 109.3 MPH.

Earlier in the same game, Tellez led an impressive double play when he fielded a ground ball, stepped on first base for the first out, and threw home to nab Jorge Solers (Braves).

3B Alex Bregman (Astros)

Bregman hit a sizzling .455 (5-for-11) in Houston’s first 3 playoff games against the White Sox, with 2 RBIs and a .500 OBP (on-base percentage).

Stats to share

  • Home runs by Tellez (Brewers) and Pederson (Braves) accounted for all 3 runs scored in Milwaukee’s 2-1 win over Atlanta on October 8. According to author Bob Wechsler, the last time two Jewish players homered in the same playoff game came in the 9th inning of Game 4 of the 2017 World Series, when 3B Alex Bregman (Astros) and Pederson (Dodgers) both cleared the bases.
  • Fried (Braves) got the better of Tellez (Brewers) in his October 9 start, striking Tellez out on a called third strike and forcing him to pop out in foul territory.

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