By Scott Barancik, Editor

Now that the minor-league season has ended, we can ask: who were the top Jewish players?

Jewish Baseball News sought input from half a dozen Jewish Insiders, including professional ballplayers, scouts, reporters and front-office staff. The result of their collective wisdom is our 2018 Minor-League Awards.

To our 11 winners: Mazel Tov!

P O S I T I O N  P L A Y E R S

Most Valuable: Garrett Stubbs, C (Astros/AAA)

Four players received Most Valuable votes, but Houston’s Stubbs came out on top. It’s not hard to see why. Despite his small stature — he stands 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds — Stubbs excelled at the plate, hitting .310 with a .382 on-base percentage and 29 extra-base hits in 297 at-bats. He’s considered even better with a glove. “Kid can do it all,” wrote one Insider. “Plus Defensive Catcher who can hit and play all over the Infield.” Deservedly, ranks Stubbs the Astros’ No. 15 prospect.

Runner-up: Rhett Wiseman, RF (Nationals/High-A)

Most Improved: Rhett Wiseman, RF (Nationals/High-A)

Wiseman showed great improvement in his second full season at the High-A level. The 24-year-old upped his home runs from 13 to 21, raised his batting average 24 points to .253, and boosted his OBP from .283 to .361. He also finished among the Carolina League’s Top 5 in at least four offensive categories. Though Wiseman didn’t crack’s list of the Top 30 Nationals prospects, he was named a Post-Season All-Star.

Runner-up: Garrett Stubbs, C (Astros/AAA)

Top Rookie: Zack Kone, 2B (Pirates/A-short-season)

A 13th-round pick out of Duke in the 2018 draft, Kone found pro pitching a little rough out of the chute but ended the season on a high note. The 21-year-old finished with a 10-game hitting streak, during which he hit .409 and drew six walks.

Best Comeback: Rowdy Tellez, 1B (Blue Jays/AAA)

Looking at the trajectory of his 6-year minor league career, 2017 was an anomaly for Rowdy Tellez. Until then, the 6-foot-4 power hitter had hit as high as .305 and as many as 25 home runs in a season. But as his Jewish mother fell ill from brain cancer, Tellez produced career lows in 2017. He got back on track in 2018, however, especially so in July and August, when he hit over .300 with a combined 7 HRs and 21 RBIs. Now 23, Tellez’s improvements led to a September call-up. And despite his mother’s recent passing, he matched or set multiple MLB records for rookies.

Runner-up: Ryan Lavarnway, C (Pirates/AAA)

Most Likely Call-Up: Garrett Stubbs, C (Astros/AAA) 

Versatility, defense, and batting prowess make Stubbs the most likely call-up. Being employed by a playoff-bound franchise doesn’t hurt, either.


Best Starter: Dean Kremer, RHP (Dodgers/AA, High-A; Orioles/AA)

The first Israeli citizen to sign a pro baseball contract, Kremer turned heads with a breakout 2018. Despite a late-season trade from the Dodgers to the Orioles as part of the Manny Machado deal, the 6-foot-3 stringbean led all minor leaguers with 178 strikeouts and finished 10-5 with a 2.88 ERA. “It’s not even close for me,” wrote one Insider. “Kremer had a huge breakout, handling both a trade and the move to Double-A. He’s the best Jewish true prospect in baseball right now.” ranks the 22-year-old Baltimore’s No. 16 prospect.

Best Reliever: Robert Stock, RHP (Padres/AAA, AA)

After 10 years in the minors and independent leagues — and just seven of them as a pitcher — Stock truly hit his stride in 2018. The 28-year-old went a combined 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA and 9 saves in the minors while holding opposing batters to a paltry .169 batting average. That earned him his first MLB call-up, and Stock hasn’t disappointed. Among rookie MLB relievers with at least 30 innings pitched, his 2.29 ERA ranked No. 4 as of September 13.

Most Improved (tie):

There’s no doubt Kremer and Stock both made great strides in 2018. In fact, the only debate among Insiders is which player has the greater upside.

Top Rookie: Simon Rosenblum Larson, RHP (Rays/A, A-short-season)

In a remarkable rookie season, 21-year-old Harvard alum Rosenblum-Larson went a combined 1-3 with a 1.16 ERA and 8 saves in 9 chances. He also struck out 62 batters over 38.2 innings while walking just 9. And despite some rough going in his final three appearances, opposing batters managed to hit only .150 against Rosenblum-Larson, Then again, not many 2018 draftees made it to the Single-A level like he did.

Best Comeback: Rob Kaminsky, LHP (Indians/AA, High-A)

Kaminsky hasn’t had it easy. A 1st-round pick out of high school in the 2013 draft, the New Jersey native met expectations his first three seasons but suffered injuries that kept him off the mound for more than 2 years (except for one appearance in 2017). Upon returning in June 2018, Kaminsky has moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen, and there he performed well, earning 4 saves in 4 chances. Except for an uncharacteristic number of walks, the 24-year-old appears back on track.

Most Likely Call-Up: Matthew Gorst, RHP (Red Sox/AAA, AA, High-A)

Runner-up: R C Orlan, LHP (Indians/AAA, AA, High-A, Rookie)

After starting 2018 in High-A, Gorst moved through Boston’s farm system like he was wearing a jetpack. His promotion to Triple-A may have been a bit hasty — he had made only 9 appearances in Double-A — but the 24-year-old still ended the season with a combined 1.84 ERA and 9 saves in 10 chances.

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