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Israel’s WBC roster taking shape

By Scott Barancik, editor

The roster of players set to represent Israel in the World Baseball Classic in South Korea this March is taking shape.

Team Israel general manager Peter Kurz, whose squad of former Major League and current minor-league athletes guided Israel to a qualifying-round win in September, said Tuesday that 15 ballplayers had already committed to play in the main tournament in Seoul. The list includes:

  1. Ty Kelly, IF (New York Mets)
  2. Sam Fuld, OF (free agent)
  3. Jason Marquis, P (free agent)
  4. Ike Davis, 1B (free agent)
  5. Ryan Lavarnway, C (Oakland Athletics/minors)
  6. Cody Decker, IF (Milwaukee Brewers/minors)
  7. Josh Zeid, P (free agent)
  8. Nate Freiman, 1B (free agent)
  9. Tyler Krieger, IF (Cleveland Indians/minors)
  10. Nick Rickles, C (Washington Nationals/minors)
  11. Dean Kremer, P (Los Angeles Dodgers/minors)
  12. Corey Baker, P (St. Louis Cardinals/minors)
  13. Jeremy Bleich, P (free agent)
  14. Jake Kalish, P (Kansas City Royals/minors)
  15. Alex Katz, P (Chicago White Sox/minors)

Two key additions are Ty Kelly and Sam Fuld. During the qualifiers in September, Kelly was playing for the New York Mets, while Fuld, then with the Oakland Athletics, was on the disabled list. Also new are minor leaguers Tyler Krieger and Jake Kalish.

Roster spots have been offered to at least seven additional minor leaguers who played for Team Israel in September : Zach Borenstein (Arizona Diamondbacks), Brad Goldberg (Chicago White Sox), Blake Gailen (independent), Scotty Burcham (Colorado Rockies), Tyler Herron (New York Mets), R C Orlan (Washington Nationals), and Joey Wagman (Oakland Athletics). None has provided a final answer yet.

Kurz told Jewish Baseball News that Danny Valencia of the Seattle Mariners and Craig Breslow, who is seeking to return to the Major Leagues, are possible future additions to Israel’s roster. Team Israel also is pursuing Joc Pederson of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Jason Kipnis of the Cleveland Indians.

Several prominent pros politely declined Team Israel’s invitations due to injury, family commitments, Major League aspirations, or other concerns. They include Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers, Kevin Pillar and Scott Feldman of the Toronto Blue Jays, Richard Bleier of the New York Yankees, Jon Moscot of the Cincinnati Reds, and minor-league prospect and Ryan Sherriff of the St. Louis Cardinals. Sherriff played for Team Israel in the September qualifiers.

Alex Bregman of the Houston Astros and Ian Kinsler of the Detroit Tigers have committed to play for Team USA rather than Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic.

Under WBC rules, athletes can play on Team Israel as long as they are eligible for Israeli citizenship. That means having at least one Jewish grandparent or being married to someone Jewish. Nearly all the players on Israel’s roster personally identify as Jewish.

Earlier this month, eight players on the WBC roster visited Israel for a week to learn about the country, meet Israeli fans, and break ground on a new baseball stadium. MLB.com reporter Jonathan Mayo and Ironbound Films co-founder Jeremy Newberger plan to create a documentary about the trip, titled Heading Home.

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Minor-League Monday (August 8-14, 2016)

By Scott Barancik, Editor

Here are your minor-league updates from the week of August 8-14, 2016.

Jewish Baseball News Hitter of the Week

1B Cody Decker (Red Sox/AA) hit .333 last week with 3 HRs, 5 RBIs, and 2 walks. The highlight came August 10, when Decker went 3-for-6 with 2 HRs and 3 RBIs.

Jewish Baseball News Pitcher of the Week

In his first game since being promoted, P Alex Katz (White Sox/High-A) pitched 2.1 no-hit innings, yielding one walk and striking out 2.

Other highlights

1B Nate Freiman (Red Sox/AA) hit .400 with an RBI and a walk.

OF Adam Walton (Diamondbacks/A-short season), a 2016 signee, hit .273 with 3 doubles, 3 RBIs, and a walk.

OF Jeremy Wolf (Mets/rookie), a 2016 draftee, hit .350 with 2 doubles, 4 RBIs, and a walk. He ranks third on the Kingsport Mets with a .304 average, second with a .452 slugging percentage, and fourth with 21 RBIs.

In a 2.1-inning relief appearance August 11, P Brandon Gold (Rockies/rookie) yielded 2 hits and struck out 6. Gold has fanned 16 and walked just 2 over a combined 11.1 innings this season.

In two appearances, P Henry Hirsch (Pirates/High-A) yielded 2 hits and 2 walks over 4.1 innings while fanning 5. He also improved his season record to 6-3.

P Rob Kaminsky (Indians/AA) continues to improve, anchoring an 18-2 win on August 12 after yielding 7 hits and 2 earned runs over 6 innings while striking out 5. After going 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in April, Kaminsky has gone 0-0 with a 3.55 ERA in May, 1-3 with a 4.15 ERA in June, 3-2 with a 2.45 ERA in July, and 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA in August.

Since being reassigned from the rookie Appalachian League to the slightly less competitive rookie Gulf Coast League, 2016 draftee Kenny Rosenberg (Rays) has gone 1-0 with an 0.57 ERA, yielding 12 hits over 15.2 innings, walking just 3, and striking out 21, with a WHIP — walks and hits per innings — of just 0.89.

Transactions

  • P Dean Kremer (Dodgers) was promoted from rookie ball to Single-A.
  • P Alex Katz (White Sox) was promoted from Single-A to High-A.
  • P Max Fried (Braves/A) came off the disabled list.
  • P Josh Zeid (Mets) was reassigned from Triple-A to Double-A.
  • P Raul Jacobson (Mets) was reassigned from Single-A to A-short season.
  • 1B Ike Davis (Yankees/AAA) was released.
  • P Craig Breslow (Rangers/AAA) was released.

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Minor-League Monday (Aug. 1-7, 2016)

By Scott Barancik, Editor

Here are your minor-league updates from the week of August 1-7, 2016.

Jewish Baseball News Hitter of the Week

C Andy Yerzy (Diamondbacks/rookie), a 2nd-round pick in the 2016 draft, hit .400 last week with a double, 5 RBIs, and a walk. The highlight was a 4-for-5 game on August 5.

Jewish Baseball News Pitcher of the Week

P Rob Kaminsky (Indians/AA) earned his sixth win on August 5, tossing 5 shutout innings. July was Kaminsky’s best month of the season, with the fourth-year going 3-2 with a 2.45 ERA and yielding just 1.12 walks/hits per inning.

Other highlights

On August 5, 1B Ike Davis (Yankees/AAA) went 3-for-4 with 2 home runs and 4 RBIs. Davis went hitless the rest of the week.

1B Cody Decker (Red Sox/AA) hit .348 last week with a double, triple, home run, 3 RBIs, and a walk.

C Ryan Gold (Blue Jays/rookie) went 4-for-8 a double, 2 RBIs, a walk, and an intentional walk. The 2016 draftee is hitting .347 over 18 games.

C Ryan Lavarnway (Blue Jays/AA) hit .421 with a home run, 4 RBIs, and 2 walks.

LF Mike Meyers (Red Sox/High-A) hit .304 with 1 double, 5 RBIs, three walks, and three stolen bases. For the season, he’s hitting .278 with 4 HRs, 60 RBIs, 23 stolen bases in 26 attempts, and a .339 on-base percentage.

OF Jeremy Wolf (Mets/rookie) hit .316 with a double, home run, 5 RBIs, and 3 walks.

In a start on August 5, P Corey Baker (Cardinals/AA) pitched 5 dominant innings, yielding one earned run on 2 hits and no walks while striking out 7 for the win.

Through August 5, reliever Henry Hirsch (Pirates/High-A) had 10 straight scoreless appearances. The last time he yielded an earned run was June 29.

Reliever Alex Katz (White Sox/A) delivered three scoreless appearances last week. In 5 combined innings, he yielded just one hit and two walks while striking out three.

Transactions

Craig Breslow (Rangers/AAA) was placed on the team’s temporary inactive list. However, WEEI.com reported that the Rangers actually released Breslow from his minor-league contract.

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By Scott Barancik, Editor

Here are your minor-league updates from the week of June 27-July 3, 2016.

Jewish Baseball News Player of the Week

What an incredible week for SS Alex Bregman (Astros). Last year’s #2 overall draft pick homered and went 2-for-3 in the Texas League (AA) All-Star game. He was named to the U.S. roster for MLB’s All-Star Futures Game. He was promoted to Houston’s Triple-A club — and didn’t shrink from the challenge. Oh, no. Bregman went 4-for-5 with 3 RBIs and a walk in his first game with the Fresno Grizzlies. And in the next four games, he homered four times, including twice on July 4. (Yes, we’re cheating a bit here by counting Bregman’s play on July 4. Technically, that’s next week’s news.) All told, Bregman is 10-for-21 (.476) with 4 HRs, 2 doubles, eleven RBIs, and 2 walks since being promoted. Curiously, he’s played all of his Triple-A games at shortstop, even though the Astros had begun moving him to third base in order to speed his ascent to the Majors.

Debuts

Three draftees made their pro debuts last week.

Dodgers draftee Dean Kremer (P/rookie league), the first Israeli citizen to be drafted by an MLB team, started Sunday’s game for the Orem Owlz. He pitched 1.1 innings, yielding 2 hits, 2 walks, and 2 earned runs.

Blue Jays draftee Ryan Gold (C/rookie league), an 18-year-old from South Carolina, went 2-for-8 in his first four games, contributing a single, double, 2 walks, and an RBI.

Rays draftee Kenny Rosenberg (P/rookie league) made his pro debut on July 2, yielding 2 hits and an earned run over 2 innings.

Other highlights

Add one more player to the list of 2016 draftees: OF David Oppenheim of USC.

C Michael Barash (Angels/rookie league) hit .333 with 2 doubles and 3 RBIs. Since his debut, he’s thrown out three of 13 attempted base-stealers.

LF Zach Borenstein (Diamondbacks/AAA) raised his RBI total to 37, but he’s also working on his speed. The 25-year-old added three stolen bases last week to boost his 2016 total to 12, and he has yet to be tossed out. In 2015, Borenstein stole six bases in 10 attempts at the Double-A level and didn’t even try stealing in Triple-A.

P Craig Breslow (Marlins/AAA) has had a rough time since Miami demoted him earlier this season, going 0-for-3 with a 6.85 ERA, two blown saves in four chances, a .343 opponent batting average, and yielding nearly 2 hits/walks per inning. His very first appearance was a doozy: one inning, four hits, three earned runs. But Breslow has trimmed his ERA since then, and on Sunday, he was nearly perfect, yielding just one hit over 3 innings while striking out three.

1B Ike Davis (Yankees/AAA) hit a grand-slam HR in his first game after being sent back down to Triple-A.

Former major-league 1B Nate Freiman (Red Sox/AA) homered twice on July 1. Since signing a minor-league deal with Boston, he’s hitting .270 with a .347 on-base percentage and is leading the Portland Sea Dogs in home runs (8) and RBIs (31).

LF Mike Meyers (Red Sox/High-A) drove in four runs last week to boost his total to 41, second-highest on the Salem Red Sox. He has 16 stolen bases in 18 attempts.

C Nick Rickles (Nationals/AA) went 3-for-4 with a double, two singles, a walk, and an RBI on Sunday. In three games with the Harrisburg Senators, he’s hitting .455.

CF Rhett Wiseman (Nationals/A) didn’t hit for average last week (.231), but five of his six hits went for extra bases (2 HRs, 1 triple, 2 doubles) and he drove in 7 runs, boosting his season total to a team-high 44 RBIs (tied).

1B Jeremy Wolf (Mets/rookie league) went 4-for-5 on June 30 with a double, his first professional home run, and 4 RBIs.

P Max Fried (Braves/A) was masterful in a shutout start on June 29, yielding just 2 hits and 2 walks over 6 innings while striking out 9.

P Brad Goldberg (White Sox/AAA) racked up two more scoreless relief appearances, yielding a combined one walk and no hits over 2 innings while striking out 2. He has a 0.77 ERA over his last 10 appearances.

P Rob Kaminsky (Indians/AA) went 1-1 in two starts last week. In a combined 12.2 innings, he yielded 3 earned runs on 6 hits and 3 walks while striking out 13.

P Alex Katz (White Sox/A) held opponents scoreless in two relief appearances. He gave up one hit and no walks over 2.1 innings while striking out 2.

P Jared Lakind (Pittsburgh/AA) held opponents scoreless in two relief appearances, striking out 6 batters over 3 combined innings. For the season, he’s 3-0 with 5 saves in 6 chances, has a 1.74 ERA, 40 strikeouts in 41.1 innings, and has held opposing batters to a .190 average.

P R.C. Orlan (Nationals/High-A) held opponents scoreless three times. In 4 combined innings, he yielded one hit and three walks while striking out four.

Second-year P Jason Richman held opponents scoreless twice. In 2.1 combined innings, he yielded one hit and no walks while striking out one.

P Josh Zeid (Mets/AA) earned his second victory with a strong performance July 3, yielding just 2 hits and 3 walks over 7 innings while fanning 8.

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By Scott Barancik, Editor

Here they are, your minor-league updates from the week of May 2-8, 2016.

Highlights

After getting only one hit in his first 22 at-bats, former major leaguer Ike Davis (AAA/Rangers) went 3-for-5 with two doubles and five RBIs on May 2. Davis has reached base in his last six games and had one or more hits in five of them, raising his average to a respectable .257.

OF Zach Borenstein‘s 15 RBIs rank third on the Reno Aces (AAA/Diamondbacks), and he’s accumulated them in just 80 at-bats.

OF Mike Meyers (High-A/Red Sox) went 3-for-5 on May 8, stroking his second HR of the season and stealing his fourth base.

Brad Goldberg (AAA/White Sox) kept opponents scoreless in both relief appearances, yielding a total of two hits and no walks over three innings while striking out two. His overall ERA between AA and AAA ball this season is 2.19.

After tearing the ball apart in AAA, Ryan Kalish was called up by the Cubs and made his season debut May 3.

C Garrett Stubbs (High-A/Astros) has been on fire since returning from the disabled list May 5. In three games last week, he went 5-for-12 (.417) with a double, home run, 3 walks, 4 RBIs, and stolen base. He’s been spectacular behind the plate, throwing out 7 of 10 attempted base stealers with no errors.

CF Rhett Wiseman (A/Nationals) has a 5-game hitting streak and has raised his average to .223. On May 5, he went 4-for-5 with a triple and an RBI.

Jeremy Bleich (AA/Phillies) held batters scoreless in all three relief appearances last week, yielding four hits and two walks over five innings while striking out four.

Richard Bleier (AAA/Yankees) was dominant in his second start of the season May 5, a 7-inning gem in which he gave up six hits, a walk, and one earned run while striking out four.

Former major leaguer Ryan Lavarnway (AAA/Braves) has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games, raising his average to .275 with 7 doubles and 8 RBIs.

Scott Effross (A/Cubs) held opponents scoreless in two relief appearances, yielding one hit and two walks over three innings while striking out six.

Robert Orlan (High-A/Nationals) has earned saves in three of his last four appearances, including a one-inning stint May 8 that trimmed his ERA to 1.88, his opponents’ batting average to .109, and his walks/hits per innings to 1.05.

Transactions

  • Former major leaguer Nate Freiman has signed a minor-league contract with the Boston Red Sox and will suit up with the franchise’s Double-A club, the Portland Sea Dogs. After being released by the Washington Nationals’ Triple-A club last month, Freiman played six games for the independent Long Island Ducks, hitting .381 with two HRs and four RBIs.
  • White Sox prospect Alex Katz was reassigned to extended spring training.

Injury updates

  • Astros #1 prospect Alex Bregman (AA) returned from the disabled list on May 5. For the week, he was 3-for-13 (.231) with four walks and two strikeouts. He hit two doubles on May 6.
  • Former major leaguer Josh Satin is off the disabled list and has played five games with the El Paso Chihuahuas (AAA/Padres).
  • Marlins prospect Maxx Tissenbaum (A) has been placed on the 7-day disabled list retroactive to 4/27/2016.

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