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(Editor’s note: Coverage of the 2013 MLB amateur draft is a collaboration between Jewish Baseball News and our friends at Jewish Sports Review, a bi-monthly newsletter that tracks Jewish athletes in multiple sports around the globe. Click here for subscription information.)
By Scott Barancik, editor
For the second year in a row, a left-handed Jewish high-school pitcher who idolizes Sandy Koufax has been selected in the first round of Major League Baseball’s amateur draft.
The St. Louis Cardinals chose Rob Kaminsky with the 28th pick of the 2013 draft on Wednesday (6/7/2013). An 18-year-old senior at Saint Joseph Regional High School in Montvale, N.J., Kaminsky has committed to play at the University of North Carolina but is considered likely to sign with the Cardinals. If he does, he’s due for a bonus in the $1.8-million range.
“CARDS NATION!!! Thank you so much!!!,” Kaminsky wrote on his Twitter feed.
St. Louis wasn’t alone in coveting the 5-foot-11-inch, 190-pound southpaw. Gatorade named Kaminsky the New Jersey Baseball Player of the Year in 2012 and again in 2013. (Prior winners include Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout.) Baseball America, which had ranked him the No. 21 prospect in this year’s draft, says Kaminsky “throws a nasty, downer curveball, a present plus pitch and arguably [is] the best among high school pitchers in the  class.”
[Click here to watch a 2012 news video about Kaminsky.]
Why are baseball honchos so bullish on Kaminsky? Consider his senior season at Saint Joseph, when he served as co-captain. Kaminsky didn’t give up a single earned run during the first five weeks, and he ended the season with an ERA below 0.20. In 58 innings, Kaminsky struck out 118 — or two per inning — while walking a total of four batters. His fastball has been recorded as high as 96 miles per hour.
It’s not just his pitching they love. Kaminsky impressed everyone when he began collecting donations for every strikeout he recorded and then gave the funds to the pediatric care unit at a nearby hospital. Total raised by the Strikeout Challenge? $30,000. “I’ve been doing this 26 years and he’s not just the best player I’ve ever coached; he’s one of the best people I’ve ever coached,” coach Frank Salvano told the N.Y. Daily News.
The Daily News also reported that Kaminsky’s “prized possession” is a Sandy Koufax baseball card. That gives him something in common with Max Fried, a high-school pitcher in California who was chosen 7th overall in last year’s amateur draft by the San Diego Padres.
Around age 12, Fried began perfecting his curveball by studying rare footage of Koufax at work.
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