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Missing draftee: Scott Manea

By Scott Barancik, Editor

Sometimes, a player slips through the cracks. And it can take quite a while for us to find them.

scott manea cyclones mug

Manea

Thanks to our friends at Jewish Sports Review, we now know about another athlete selected in the 2016 MLB draft: Scott Manea, a 40th-round pick of the New York Mets. (Yes, I said 2016.)

The right-handed catcher didn’t have a ton of college experience to point to before the draft. A Massachusetts native, he had just three plate appearances at N.C. State before spending a season at St. Petersburg College, a member of the National Junior College Athletic Association. He did hit .377, however, and drove in 46 RBIs in 175 at-bats.

Manea struggled a bit in his first pro season, hitting .105 in 38 rookie-league at-bats in 2016. But he made significant improvements with the short-season Brooklyn Cyclones in 2017, hitting .223 — .318 after the All-Star break — with a .380 on-base percentage, one home run and 11 RBIS in 112 at-bats. He also tossed out 11 of 46 attempted base-stealers (24%).

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Missing draftee: Tyler Benson

By Scott Barancik, Editor

With 1,215 amateur players chosen in the 2017 MLB draft, it was perhaps inevitable that we’d miss a few.

Tyler Benson

Tyler Benson

Mea culpa, Tyler Benson.

A 21-year-old from New Jersey, Benson hit .377 his junior year at Bloomsburg University, adding 8 HRs, 41 RBIs, 15 stolen bases, and a sweet .505 on-base percentage.

The San Diego Padres selected the Division 2 left fielder in the 31st round in June, and Benson acquitted himself well. Spending time at three levels — rookie, A-short-season and A — he hit a combined .252 with a .374 on-base percentage, 15 RBIs, and nine stolen bases in 115 at-bats.

Benson’s addition brings the list of known Jewish draftees in 2017 to an even dozen.

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By Scott Barancik, Editor

If the 2017 minor-league season were a wine, it would be a good year.

Three pitchers — Ryan Sherriff of the St. Louis Cardinals, Brad Goldberg of the Chicago White Sox, and Max Fried of the Atlanta Braves — made their Major League debuts.

A number of minor-league players — marked with asterisks below — took the field with Team Israel, the feel-good story of the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Not everything went as hoped. Despite going 2-1 with a 2.48 ERA and a perfect 6 saves in 6 tries this season, Team Israel alum Corey Baker was abruptly released by the St. Louis Cardinals in July. P Rob Kaminsky, a promising 1st-round draft pick in 2013 who missed nearly all of 2015 due to injury, managed just one outing in 2017 before again being placed on the disabled list.

Overall, the picture for Jewish prospects was bright in 2017. Below are 11 players we believe stood out from the pack. A hearty Mazel Tov to them all.

 

P O S I T I O N   P L A Y E R S

Most Valuable: Braden Bishop, CF (Mariners/AA, A+)

Most players see their numbers dip after a promotion, but the 24-year-old Bishop soared after a late-season bump to Double-A, hitting .336, getting on base in 30 of 31 games, and continuing to perform well both on the basepaths and in the field. The 2015 draftee (3rd round) out of the University of Washington finished the regular season with a total of 22 stolen bases in 27 tries, 11 assists in center and left, and just three errors in 1,022 innings, good for a .990 fielding percentage. And while sabremetric stats are scarce for minor leaguers, Bishop finished among the league leaders in Weighted Runs Created Plus (a catch-all offensive metric that adjusts for league and park). No wonder MLB.com ranks him Seattle’s No. 5 prospect.

Most Improved: Andy Yerzy, C (Diamondbacks/Rookie)

Plucked out of high school in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft, Yerzy struggled in his debut season, hitting just .216 in Rookie ball and managing only one home run despite a reputation for power. But 2017 was another story for the 19-year-old Canadian, whose 6’3″ stature is unusual for a catcher. Yerzy hit for average (.298), consistency (.365 on-base percentage), and power (13 HRs, or one in every 17.3 at-bats). Team officials also praised his work ethic and growing knowledge of the game, one reason MLB.com ranks him Arizona’s No. 24 prospect.

Top Rookie: Zane Gurwitz, 2B (Angels/A, Rookie)

A 5’8″ recruit from the University of Texas, Gurwitz wasn’t selected until the 26th round of the 2017 amateur draft. But the Angels had to be pleased with the his first season of pro ball. The 22-year-old hit .386 in the Arizona Rookie League — tops among batters with 90-plus plate appearances — and contributed 2 HRs, 17 RBIs, 7 stolen bases and a .449 on-base percentage. A brief sojourn in Single-A ball didn’t go as well, precipitating his return to Rookie ball.

Best Comeback: Blake Gailen*, CF (Dodgers/AA)

Gailen has spent much of his career as an underdog. Undrafted out of college in 2007, the 5’9″ outfielder started in independent ball and has bounced back and forth between there and the MLB-affiliated minors ever since. He’s picked up plaudits along the way, including being named Independent Leagues Player of the Year in 2012 by Baseball America and starring for Team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. After the Dodgers signed Gailen to a minor-league contract in late June this year, the 32-year-old rewarded the franchise with a .300 season, contributing 7 HRs and an impressive 35 RBIs in just 150 at-bats and ranking #2 in Weighted Runs Created Plus among Texas League (AA) batters with 150-plus plate appearances.

Most Likely Call-Up: Zach Borenstein*, LF (Diamondbacks/AAA)

In his second full season at the Triple-A level, Borenstein improved in every offensive category but stolen bases. The 27-year-old Illinois native boosted his HR count from 9 to 24, his RBIs from 57 to 91, and his Weighted Runs Created Plus from 104 to 132, or 13th best in the Pacific Coast League (AAA). Though he’s relatively old for a prospect and strikes out in 29.1% of his plate appearances — #3 in the league — another strong season at Triple-A should ensure Borenstein at least a taste of the Bigs in 2018.

2017 milb awards -- photo array jpeg cropped

P I T C H E R S

Best Starter: Max Fried, LHP (Braves/MLB, AAA, AA)

Through August 1, Fried was not having a great season. The 23-year-old southpaw was 2-11 with a 5.92 ERA in Double-A, a far cry from the high-school phenom who was selected 7th overall in the 2012 amateur draft. Observers couldn’t be faulted for wondering if Fried ever would regain his pre-Tommy John form, an injury that cost him most of the 2014 season and all of 2015. But clearly the Braves’ front office knew better. In two Major League stints beginning with an August 8 debut, the rookie outperformed his minor-league self, going 1-1 with a 3.81 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 26 innings for Atlanta.

Best Reliever: Ryan Sherriff, LHP (Cardinals/AAA)

A 28th-round pick in the 2011 draft, Sherriff has made a career of beating expectations, and 2017 was his time to be rewarded for it. The 27-year-old southpaw spent most of the season in Triple-A, where he went 2-1 with a 3.19 ERA, 6 saves in 7 chances, struck out nearly a batter per inning, and held opposing teams to just 0.99 walks/hits per inning, #4 among Pacific Coast League pitchers with 50-plus innings. After a late August call-up to St. Louis, Sherriff went 2-1 with a 3.14 ERA and 15 walks in 14.1 innings.

Most Improved: Jake Fishman, LHP (Blue Jays/A, A-short season, Rookie)

Drafted out of a Division III college in 2016, Fishman looked like it in his first pro season, going 0-1 with a 4.80 ERA and getting hit at a .328 clip by opposing Rookie-league players. But something clicked in 2017. The 22-year-old southpaw spent most the year in Short-Season ball, where he went 1-0 with a 1.17 ERA and a save. During a subsequent six-game stint in Single-A, his ERA was a less-svelte 4.05, but Fishman struck out 15 batters in 6.2 innings and while walking none. Kansas City Royals prospect Gabe Cramer* came a close second for this award but didn’t get quite enough playing time to capture it.

Top Rookie: Spencer Kulman, RHP (Padres/High-A, Rookie)

Kulman went undrafted in 2017, but San Diego apparently got a bargain when it signed him as a free agent. The 22-year-old righty was the top closer on his Rookie-league team, going 1-0 with a 1.21 ERA, earning 4 saves in 5 chances, and limiting opposing teams to a .160 batting average and 1.03 walks/hits per inning. Kulman even closed out the season with two scoreless relief appearances in High-A. Seattle Mariners draft pick Sam Delaplane, whose 13.7 strikeouts per nine innings ranked #2 in the Arizona Rookie League, was runner-up for this award.

Best Comeback:  Robert Stock, RHP (Reds/AA, High-A)

After a frustrating 2015 season that saw him deliver a 7.71 ERA across three levels, Stock spent 2016 playing alongside brother Richard in the independent Can-Am League. But things turned around for the 27-year-old after Cincinnati signed him to a minor-league deal in March 2017. This season, the right-hander went a combined 9-5 with two saves and a 2.82 ERA in High-A and Double-A. This isn’t Stock’s first comeback, either. Selected as a catcher in the 2nd round of the 2009 draft, he moved to the mound in 2012.

Most Likely Call-Up: Zack Weiss, RHP (Reds/AA, High-A)

Weiss was Cincinnati’s top relief prospect entering the 2016 season, but an elbow injury during Spring Training kept him off the mound the entire year and the beginning of 2017. Still, the UCLA alum made a strong return this season, going a combined 4-5 with a 2.63 ERA, 10 saves in 15 chances, and 12.3 strikeouts per nine innings versus 2.9 walks in High-A and AA. Though the Reds’ farm system is stacked with right-handed pitchers, Weiss is an experienced closer at a reasonably young age (25), and he has a good shot of making the Majors eventually.

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By Scott Barancik, Editor

Here are your minor-league highlights from the week of August 28 – September 3, 2017:

gurwitz rookie mug

Gurwitz

Jewish Baseball News Hitter of the Week: Zane Gurwitz

2B Zane Gurwitz (Angels/rookie), a 2017 draftee, hit .500 (8-for-16) with 2 HRs, 7 RBIs and a walk last week. His .386 average is tops among all Arizona Rookie League players with at least 90 plate appearances.

Weiss

Weiss

Jewish Baseball News Pitcher of the Week: Zack Weiss

  • P Zack Weiss (Reds/AA) pitched 4 no-hit innings across 2 appearances last week, yielding just one walk while striking out 7 batters. Since his promotion to Double-A, Weiss is 2-4 with a 3.00 ERA, 9 saves in 12 chances, and 37 strikeouts in 27 innings. He gives up an average of 1.19 walks/hits per inning.

Awards and other recognition

  • Braden Bishop (Mariners/AA) has been selected to play in the prestigious Arizona Fall League, where many franchises send their top prospects for additional competition and seasoning. MLB.com ranks him Seattle’s #6 prospect.
  • Max Fried (Cubs) has been selected to play in the Arizona Fall League. Given his growing inning count, however — he currently is pitching in the Majors — it’s unclear whether he will end up playing during the offseason.
  • Tyler Krieger (Indians/AA), who played for Team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic but does not identity exclusively as Jewish, has been selected play in the Arizona Fall League.
  • C Andy Yerzy (Diamondbacks/rookie), ranked Arizona’s #24 prospect by MLB.com, was the subject of two articles about his improved performance (Baseball America, MiLB.com). A 6-foor-3-inch tall catcher, he is hitting .295 with 11 HRs (#7 in the Pioneer Rookie League) and 41 RBIs (#12/tied).

Other highlights

  • LF Zach Borenstein* (Diamondbacks/AAA) hit .320 with 2 home runs, 2 triples, 8 RBIs and 2 walks last week. He’s hitting .280 this season, with 24 HRs, 7 triples, 26 doubles and a .928 OPS. Fingers crossed that he gets a call-up this month.
  • CF Blake Gailen* (Dodgers/AA) hit .400 (8-for-20) with 4 RBIs, 4 walks and one stolen base.
  • SS Scotty Burcham* (Rockies/High-A) hit .357 with 2 doubles.
  • 2B Adam Walton (Diamonbacks/A) hit .462 (6-for-13) with 2 doubles, 4 RBIs and a walk.
  • C Ryan Gold (Blue Jays/rookie) hit .500 (4-for-8) in the first two games of the Appalachian Rookie League playoffs, including a home run, double, 3 RBIs and a walk.
  • OF Justin Cohen (Marlins/rookie) hit .333 (3-for-9). After hitting just .091 in June and .042 in July, Cohen hit .360 in August.
  • P Robert Stock (Reds/AA) pitched 2.2 scoreless innings across 2 games, yielding no hits and 2 walks while striking out 3 and earning a win. Since his promotion to Double-A, Stock is 8-2 with a 2.98 ERA.
  • P Troy Neiman* (Rockies/AA) pitched a perfect inning of relief on September 1, yielding no hits or walks while striking out one.
  • P Spencer Kulman (Padres/High-A), a 2017 draftee, performed well in his first two appearances in High-A, tossing 2 scoreless innings on 2 hits and a walk while striking out 2. On San Diego’s rookie-league team, Kulman was 1-0 with a 1.21 ERA and 4 saves in 5 chances, holding opposing batters to a .160 batting average.
  • P Jared Lakind* (Marlins/High-A) pitched well in his first game since being promoted to High-A, tossing 1.2 scoreless innings on one hit, no walks and a strikeout on September 2.
  • P Scott Effross (Cubs/High-A) pitched 3 scoreless innings across 2 games, yielding a hit and a walk while striking out 3. In the past 10 games, Effross is 0-0 with a 1.45 ERA and 5 saves.
  • P Marc Huberman (Cubs/High-A) pitched a perfect inning on August 31, yielding no hits or walks while striking out one batter.
  • Last week, we neglected to mention a rather notable achievement by P Jake Fishman (Blue Jays/A). In an August 26 relief appearance, Fishman struck out 7 batters in 2 innings, a rare feat. The first batter he fanned did so on a wild pitch and made it safely to first base.
  • P Sam Delaplane (Mariners/rookie), a 2017 draftee, pitched 2 scoreless innings on August 31, yielding one hit and one walk while striking out 3 and earning his second win of the season. Delaplane is averaging 13.65 strikeouts per nine innings, #3 among all Arizona Rookie League pitchers with 30-plus innings.
  • P Matthew Gorst (Red Sox/High-A) pitched 2.2 scoreless innings across 2 games, yielding 2 hits and 2 walks while fanning 2.
  • P Mitchell Osnowitz (Red Sox/A-short-season) pitched 3 scoreless innings on September 1, yielding one hit and 2 walks while striking out 4.
  • P Kenny Koplove (Marlins/A-short-season) pitched a scoreless inning on August 30, giving up no hits and one walk.
  • P Max Lazar (Brewers/rookie), a 2017 draftee, pitched 2 scoreless innings on August 29, yielding a walk and a hit while striking out 3.
  • P Jordan Scheftz (Indians/rookie), a 2017 draftee, pitched 3 scoreless innings across 2 games, yielding 3 hits and no walks while striking out 2.
  • P Ike Davis* (Dodgers/rookie) pitched a scoreless inning on August 31, giving up one hit and no walks while striking out one. It was the first baseman’s sixth consecutive scoreless appearance since moving to the pitcher’s mound on August 6.

Transactions

  • P Max Fried (Braves) was called up by the Atlanta Braves on September 1 and made his first Major League start on September 3, earning a win over the Chicago Cubs.
  • C Michael Barash (Angels/AA) was promoted from High-A to Double-A on September 1.
  • LF Mike Meyers (Red Sox/AA) was promoted from High-A to Double-A on August 30.
  • P Jared Lakind (Marlins/High-A) was promoted from Single-A to High-A on August 31.
  • P Spencer Kulman (Padres, High-A), a 2017 draftee, was promoted from rookie ball to High-A on September 1.
  • Kenny Rosenberg (Rays/A) was activated from the temporary inactive list on August 28.

Free agents

  • Players believed to be seeking employment include minor leaguers Corey Baker*, Zack Thornton* and Elliott Barzilli.
  • Two knowledgeable sources in the baseball world — an MLB agent and a sportswriter — tell Jewish Baseball News that former major leaguer Sam Fuld* has decided to hang up his spikes. Persistent injuries have diminished Super Sam’s ability to play full out, the only way he knows how.

Disabled list

Note to readers: Minor-League Monday does not include stats for all current Jewish minor-leaguers. Click here for a complete list of players, and then click on a player’s name to be taken to his stat page.

Members of Team Israel’s 2017 squad are marked with an asterisk.

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By Scott Barancik, Editor

Here are your minor-league highlights from the week of August 21-27, 2017:

Barash

Barash

Jewish Baseball News Hitter of the Week: Michael Barash

Michael Barash (Angels/High-A) had a career game on August 24, going 5-for-6 with a home run, 4 RBIs and a walk. For the week, he hit .500 (7-for-14) with 2 HRs, 5 RBIs and an impressive 6 walks. Barash is hitting .236 this season, with 10 HRs, 19 doubles and a .326 on-base percentage.

Bleich

Bleich

Jewish Baseball News Pitcher of the Week: Jeremy Bleich*

  • P Jeremy Bleich* (Dodgers/AAA) pitched 3 scoreless innings across 2 appearances, yielding just one hit and no walks while striking out 4 and earning his third save. Since being promoted to Triple-A on June 16, Bleich is 5-1 with a 2.66 ERA, has 3 saves in 8 chances, and is yielding an average of just 0.97 walks/hits per inning, #4 among all Pacific Coast League pitchers with 40+ innings.

Awards

  • The Seattle Times named CF Braden Bishop (Mariners/AA) the Seattle Mariners’ minor-league player of the year. Bishop began the season in High-A, where he hit .296 with 2 HRs, 3 triples, 25 doubles, 32 RBIs, 16 stolen bases and a .385 on-base percentage. He has performed even better since his July 22 promotion to Double-A, hitting .336 with a home run, triple, 9 doubles, 11 RBIs, 6 stolen bases and a .417 on-base percentage.

Other highlights

  • C Garrett Stubbs (Astros/AAA) hit .294 (5-for-17) with a double, 4 RBIs, 4 walks and a stolen base.
  • LF Mike Meyers (Red Sox/High-A) hit .389 (7-for-18) with a double, triple, home run, RBI, walk and 2 stolen bases.
  • C Andy Yerzy (Diamondbacks/rookie) saw his hitting streak end at 22 games on August 24, but he went on a 3-game tear after that, during which he hit .571 (8-for-14) with 2 HRs, a double and 3 RBIs to lift his average above .300 for the first time this season.
  • P Max Fried (Braves/AAA) was dominant in his first-ever Triple-A appearance. He tossed 4 scoreless innings in an August 24 start, yielding one hit and 2 walks while striking out 6.
  • P R.C. Orlan* (Nationals/High-A) tossed 3 scoreless innings across 2 games, yielding just one hit and no walks while striking out 2 and earning his fifth save.
  • P Kenny Koplove (Marlins/A-short-season) pitched 2.2 scoreless innings across 2 games, yielding a hit and a walk while striking out 5.
  • P Ike Davis* (Dodgers/rookie), who is refashioning himself as a pitcher, threw 2 scoreless innings across 2 appearances, yielding a hit and a walk.
  • P Keith Weisenberg (Braves/rookie), a 2017 draftee, pitched 2 scoreless innings on August 23, yielding one hit and no walks while striking out 2. For the season, he is 3-2 with a 2.59 ERA and one save, and he is holding opposing batters to just 1.11 walks/hits per inning.
  • P Spencer Kulman (Padres/rookie), a 2017 draftee, pitched 2 scoreless innings across 2 games, yielding 2 walks and no hits while striking out one. For the season, he is 1-0 with a 1.25 ERA, 3 saves in 4 chances, and is limiting opposing batters to just 1.06 walks/hits per inning.

Transactions

  • P Ryan Sherriff* (Cardinals) was called-up from Triple-A on August 23 and made his MLB debut on August 25.
  • P Craig Breslow* (Indians) was called-up from Triple-A on August 26.
  • P Max Fried (Braves/AAA) was sent down to Triple-A on August 23. The Braves had promoted him from Double-A straight to the Majors on August 5.
  • 1B Cody Decker* (Mets/AAA) was placed on the disabled list August 26, retroactive to August 24.
  • P Kenny Rosenberg (Rays/A) was played on the temporary inactive list on August 23.
  • SS Elliott Barzilli (Marlins/rookie) was released on August 24. The 2017 draftee was hitting .254 with 2 HRs and 8 RBIs in 63 at-bats.

Free agents

Disabled list

Note to readers: Minor-League Monday does not include stats for all current Jewish minor-leaguers. Click here for a complete list of players, and then click on a player’s name to be taken to his stat page.

Members of Team Israel’s 2017 squad are marked with an asterisk.

Get your Jewish baseball news via e-mail

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