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Browsing Posts tagged Ben Guez

By Scott Barancik, Editor

Here they are, your minor-league updates from the week of May 16-22, 2016.

Jewish Baseball News Player of the Week

SS Alex Bregman (Astros/AA) hit .367 with 3 HRs, 2 doubles, 10 RBIs, and 4 walks. The second-year pro is ranked first in the Texas League in on-base percentage (.425), slugging percentage (.658) and OPS (1.083), second in HRs (10/tied), third in RBIs (29), and fifth in batting average (.325) through games played May 22.

Other highlights

Former major leaguer Ike Davis (Rangers/AAA) was on a roll last week, hitting .450 with 2 HRs, 4 doubles, 7 RBIs, and 2 walks. Despite going 0-for-22 to start the season, Davis has lifted his batting average to .263 with 3 HRs, 8 doubles, and 18 RBIs in just 80 at-bats.

Richard Bleier (Yankees/AAA) bounced back from his worst outing of the season with a shutout win on May 22, yielding just three hits and two walks over 6 innings while striking out three. For the season, Bleier is 2-2 with a 2.57 ERA and a 1.17 walks/hits per inning.

C Garrett Stubbs (Astros/High-A) had a great week, hitting .273 with 3 HRs, 10 RBIs, and 6 walks. The highlight was a 2-homer, 4-RBI game on May 18.

LF Mike Meyers (Red Sox/High-A) knocked in 5 runs to boost his season total to 23, tying him for 12th in the Carolina League.

In his first game back after a month on the disabled list, C Maxx Tissenbaum (Marlins/A) went 2-for-2 on May 22.

Over two appearances, reliever Scott Effross (Cubs/A) struck out six batters and walked none in three scoreless innings as well as earned a win. He has three times as many strikeouts (21) as walks (7) this season.

Reliever Jared Lakind (Pirates/AA) skipped High-A ball altogether, but you wouldn’t know it from his performance this season. The 24-year-old Texas native is 0-0 with a 2.53 ERA, and he has a 1.50 ERA with two saves in his last 10 appearances.

Reliever R.C. Orlan (Nationals/High-A) earned his fourth save of the season on May 18 with one-and-two-thirds perfect innings. He’s 1-0 this season with a 1.45 ERA and is holding opposing batters to a .131 average and just 0.96 walk/hits per inning.

Starter Max Fried (Braves/A) pitched five innings of scoreless, one-hit ball on May 19, striking out four while walking as many.

Reliever Jeremy Bleich (Phillies/AA) was perfect in two brief stints, yielding no hits or walks over a combined two-and-a-third innings and striking out one. He’s held opponents scoreless in five of his last six outings.

Reds starter Jon Moscot got clobbered in his second rehab game, a 4-inning shift in which he gave up 11 hits (including 4 HRs), 9 earned runs, and 2 walks.

Mazel tov

Former Colorado Rockies prospect Ethan Katz has landed a job as pitching coach with the Bakersfield Blaze (Seattle Mariners/High-A).

Transactions

Sorry to report that Milwaukee released OF Ben Guez (AAA). A ninth-year pro, Guez is a .258 career hitter with 84 HRs, 94 stolen bases, and a .346 on-base percentage.

Injury updates

Cleveland Indians prospect Rob Kaminsky (AA) remains on the disabled list.

Cincinnati Reds prospect Zack Weiss (AA) remains on the disabled list.

Birthdays

Brewers prospect Jake Drossner (A) turned 22 on May 16.

Former Brewers prospect Steve Braun, the younger brother of slugger Ryan Braun, turned 31 on May 17

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By Scott Barancik, editor

As baseball fans celebrate Opening Day, Jewish Baseball News is taking a look back at the 21 Jews who participated in MLB Spring Training this year.

Fifteen position players and six pitchers saw playing time, some as full-fledged team members, others as non-roster invitees, and several via short-term stints. Their stats are shown at the bottom; players who made their franchise’s Opening Day roster are shown in bold.

Following are some of the Spring’s top stories.

  • It will take a lot more for him to earn back some fans’ trust and affection, but Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun — fresh from a 65-game suspension for taking performance-enhancing drugs — dazzled, hitting .417 with nine RBIs and eight extra-base hits in 36 at-bats.
  • Ike Davis and Josh Satin both made the Mets’ Opening Day roster and will share First Base duties with Lucas Duda. But Davis — who squeaked by with a .241 average in Spring Training — is among the candidates to be sent down later this week to make room for Jon Niese.
  • Nate Freiman‘s 11 RBIs ranked eighth on the A’s, but it wasn’t enough to make the team’s Opening Day roster. Meanwhile, teammate Sam Fuld wowed his way onto the roster with four triples, 7 RBIs and a .348 on-base percentage.
  • With Boston’s Craig Breslow starting the season on the disabled list, Scott Feldman is the only Jewish pitcher to make an Opening Day roster. He also was the only Jewish starter during spring Training. As a group, Jewish pitchers went 1-and-5.
  • After missing much of the past three seasons with surgeries and injuries, former Boston Red Sox OF Ryan Kalish earned a spot on the Cubs’ Opening Day roster. Kalish hit .304 with 3 RBIs, stole 6 of 7 bases, and reached base 38.5% of the time.
  • Texas prospect Aaron Poreda earned some respect in his first MLB Spring Training since 2011. Poreda claimed one save in two chances, held opposing hitters to a .265 average, and walked just one batter over 8.1 innings.
  • Ian Kinsler, traded by Texas during the off-season for Detroit’s Cecil Fielder, outperformed “Big Daddy” with 3 HRs, 9 extra-based hits, 9 RBIs, a perfect 4-for-4 in stolen bases, a .300 average, and a .382 on-base percentage. Fielder matched Kinsler’s power (3 HRs, 9 extra-base hits, 10 RBIs) but hit .246 while striking out 16 times and drawing only two walks.
  • Ben Guez, a 27-year-old outfielder who spent part of the last four seasons with Detroit’s Triple-A club but has yet to be called up, made a brief but exciting splash in three Spring Training games. Against Toronto on 3/18/2014, Guez reached base all six times, going 3-for-3 with two doubles and three walks. His career MLB Spring Training average is a robust .529, along with a .692 on-base percentage.

 MLB Spring Training hitting, 2014

Team AB H 2B 3B HR RBI SB AVG OBP
Zach Borenstein LAA 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 NA 1.000
Ryan Braun MIL 36 15 5 0 3 9 0 .417 .500
Ike Davis NYM 29 7 2 0 2 7 0 .241 .313
Cody Decker SDP 10 3 1 0 1 4 0 .300 .417
Nate Freiman OAK 42 10 2 1 1 11 0 .238 .327
Sam Fuld OAK 59 16 1 4 1 7 1-1 .271 .348
Ben Guez DET 7 5 2 0 0 2 0-1 .714 .818
Ryan Kalish CHC 46 14 1 0 0 3 6-7 .304 .385
Ian Kinsler DET 60 18 5 1 3 9 4-4 .300 .382
Ryan Lavarnway BOS 38 11 1 0 2 5 0 .289 .357
Jake Lemmerman SDP 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .500
Joc Pederson LAD 38 7 1 0 3 6 0 .184 .311
Kevin Pillar TOR 33 5 1 1 0 4 0-1 .152 .176
Josh Satin NYM 50 13 2 0 1 4 0 .260 .333
Danny Valencia KCR 48 11 1 0 1 4 1-1 .229 .327

Notes: Zach Borenstein walked in his only plate appearance

MLB Spring Training pitching, 2014

Team W L ERA G IP H BB SO AVG WHIP
Jeremy Bleich NYY 0 0 9.00 1 1.0 2 0 0 .500 2.00
Scott Feldman HOU 0 2 5.40 4 16.2 21 2 14 .292 1.38
Aaron Poreda TEX 0 1 3.24 8 8.1 9 1 8 .265 1.20
Danny Rosenbaum WAS 0 1 2.70 3 3.1 3 2 2 .300 1.50
Jeff Urlaub OAK 1 1 8.10 4 3.1 4 2 1 .333 1.80
Josh Zeid HOU 0 0 4.15 7 8.2 12 4 12 .333 1.85

Notes: Aaron Poreda earned one save in two chances; Josh Zeid earned a save in his sole opportunity. Boston’s Craig Breslow did not play, due to injury

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For a day, Jews shine again in Detroit

Ben Guez congratulates teammate Ian Kinsler after scoring on his 5th-inning home run (Carlos Osorio, AP)

By Scott Barancik, editor

Detroit’s love affair with the late Hank Greenberg may never be matched. But for a day at least, the Tigers again were powered by Jews.

Playing under newly-minted manager Brad Ausmus, Detroit crushed the Blue Jays 18-4 thanks partly to contributions from two Jewish players.

Three-time All-Star Ian Kinsler led the way, going 2-for-3 with a three-run homer, a double, and two walks. Obtained from Texas during the off-season, Kinsler is hitting .333 with 3 HRs, 8 RBIs, a .442 on-base percentage, and an impressive 1.136 OPS.

The big surprise Tuesday was the contribution of outfielder Ben Guez, a last-minute call-up from the Tigers’ minor-league camp who filled- in for injured starter Rajaj Davis. The 27-year-old Guez , who hasn’t played a day of regular-season ball in the Majors, reached base all six times he came to the plate, finishing the day 3-for-3 with 2 doubles, 3 walks, 1 RBI, and 3 runs scored.

Guez was on base when Kinsler homered in the 5th inning.

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By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Here are highlights from minor-league games played on Saturday, April 6:

  • Toronto Blue Jays prospect Kevin Pillar, an outfielder with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (AA), went 4-for-5 with 2 stolen bases. Pillar also tossed out a runner at third base (box score).
  • In his 2013 debut, Detroit Tigers prospect Ben Guez homered and walked twice (box score). Guez is an outfielder with the Toledo Mud Hens (AAA).
  • In his first game at the Triple-A level, Houston Astros reliever Josh Zeid pitched a scoreless inning for the Oklahoma City RedHawks (box score). Zeid yielded no hits and one walk while striking out two.

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By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

With the regular season now underway, we’re taking a quick look back at how Jewish players performed in spring training.

The sheer number who played was impressive: a total of at least 24 Jews — 18 position players and six pitchers — got on the field for at least one MLB game this spring.

BATTING

Collectively,  position players hit .255 with 14 HRs and 64 RBIs in 384 at-bats (see table below). Several stood out:

  • Kevin Youkilis had an eye-popping debut with the New York Yankees. He led all Jewish players (as well as all Yankees) with 6 HRs, 6 doubles and 14 RBIs in just 50 at-bats, along with an .800 slugging percentage and a 1.139 OPS (on-base plus slugging).
  • New York Mets prospect Josh Satin made the most of his 16 plate appearances, cobbling together 3 singles, 2 doubles, 5 walks, and 3 RBIs to amass a .455 batting average and .647 on-base percentage.
  • Ike Davis, another Met, showed great poise at the plate, hitting .327 with 4 doubles, 1 HR, and 4 RBIs. Davis’s 9 walks boosted his on-base percentage to a healthy .431.
  • Danny Valencia lost his fight for a spot on the Baltimore Orioles’ opening-day roster but made a good impression on his new team, hitting .323 with 1 HR, 4 RBIs, and a .417 on-base percentage.
  • Maxx Tissenbaum, a 21-year-old San Diego Padres prospect with one minor-league season under his belt, knocked in 3 runs in just 4 at-bats.
  • St. Louis Cardinals prospect Adam Ehrlich walked in both of his plate appearances, St. Louis Cardinals prospect Charlie Cutler singled in his only appearance of the spring, and San Diego Padres prospect Cody Decker went 3-for-6 with a double.

Final hitting stats, 2013 MLB Spring Training

 TEAMGABHHRRBIAVGOBP
Ryan BraunMIL1023636.261.357
Charlie CutlerSTL111001.0001.000
Ike DavisNYM21551815.327.431
Cody DeckerSD26300.500.500
Adam EhrlichSTL30000-1.000
Nate Freiman*HOU/OAK25541319.241.268
Sam FuldTB820514.250.286
Adam GreenbergBAL21000.000.000
Ben GuezDET11000.000.000
Ian KinslerTEX24631419.222.292
Ryan LavarnwayBOS1644606.136.188
Jake LemmermanSTL11000.000.000
Joc PedersonLAD710101.100.182
Kevin PillarTOR79100.111.111
Josh SatinNYM1211503.455.647
Maxx TissenbaumSD44103.250.400
Danny ValenciaBAL17311014.323.417
Kevin YoukilisNYY185014614.280.339
* Now with Oakland A's
Source: Jewish Baseball News collection of data from MLB.com, baseball-reference.com, and cbssports.com.

 

PITCHING

Among the six Jewish pitchers who played in at least one spring training game (see below), these ones stood out:

  • Houston Astros prospect Josh Zeid went 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in six relief appearances, held opposing players to a .235 batting average, and drew 3.33 times as many groundouts as flyouts.
  • San Diego Padres veteran Jason Marquis went 1-1 with a 3.74 ERA in six starts and held opponents to a .239 batting average.
  • Toronto Blue Jays prospect Michael Schwimer earned a 3.00 ERA in three relief appearances and limited opposing teams to a .182 batting average.
  • Scott Feldman stood out for less desirable reasons. The newly-minted Chicago Cub went 0-3 with an 11.25 ERA, gave up nearly 2 hits per inning, yielded 7 HRs, and got lit up by opposing batters to the tune of a .396 average.

Final pitching stats, 2013 MLB Spring Training

  TEAMWLERAGIPHBBSO
1Jeremy BleichNYY000.0010.1000
2Scott FeldmanCHC0311.25620.038617
3Jason MarquisSD113.74621.2211515
4Danny Rosenbaum*COL214.5068.0930
5Michael SchwimerTOR003.0033.0224
6Josh ZeidHOU101.5066.0442
* Now with Washington Nationals
Source: Jewish Baseball News collection of data from MLB.com, baseball-reference.com, and cbssports.com.

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It’s here: Team Israel reveals its roster

By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

The long wait to see which players will represent Israel at World Baseball Classic qualifiers this week is over.

Team Israel’s 28-man roster (see below) includes two former Major Leaguers (player/coaches Shawn Green and Gabe Kapler), three Israelis, and 23 minor-leaguers. Because the MLB season is still underway, no current Major Leaguers are on the roster. Also missing are a number of Triple-A and even Double-A players whose teams wanted them around as potential call-ups later this month.

The double-elimination tournament takes place Sept. 19-23 in Jupiter, Fla., and pits Israel against teams from France, Spain, and South Africa. Whoever prevails will earn a spot in the main World Basic Classic competition, in November 2013. If Israel wins, the team it fields in 2013 likely will include a number of Major Leaguers (such as Kevin Youkilis, who already has committed to play) and Triple-A players.

Additional commentary on this week’s roster is shown below the table.

Team Israel: Roster for the WBC qualifying tourney
No.PlayerPos.AgeHometownMinor-league teamParent club
27COLVIN, DavidRHP23Mill Valley, CAClinton LumberKings (A)Seattle Mariners
34KAPLAN, JeffRHP27Dana Point, CABinghamton Mets (AA)New York Mets
36KOPP, DavidRHP26Coral Springs, FLErie SeaWolves (AA)Detroit Tigers
16LEICHMAN, AlonRHP23Kibbutz Gezer, IsraelN.A.N.A.
22LIPETZ, ShlomoRHP33Tel Aviv, IsraelN.A.N.A.
10LORIN, BrettRHP25Laguna Niguel, CAMobile Bay Bears (AA)Arizona Diamondbacks
21PERLMAN, MaxRHP24Jupiter, FLStockton Ports (A+)Oakland A's
(-)ROTHEM, DanRHP35Tel Aviv, IsraelN.A.N.A.
26SCHUMER, JustinRHP24Houston, TXSan Jose Giants (A+)San Francisco Giants
28ZEID, JoshRHP25New Haven, CTCorpus Christi Hooks (AA)Houston Astros
14BERGER, EricLHP26Goldsboro, NCColumbus Clippers (AAA)Cleveland Indians
35BLEIER, RichardLHP25Davie, FLFrisco Roughriders (AA)Texas Rangers
17GOULD, JeremyLHP24Buffalo Grove, ILSavannah Sand Gnats (A)New York Mets
29URLAUB, JeffLHP25Scottsdale, AZStockton Ports (A+)Oakland A's
37CUTLER, CharlieC26San Fransico, CAAltoona Curve (AA)Pittsburgh Pirates
3MARDER, JackC/IF22Calabasas, CAHigh Desert Mavericks (A+)Seattle Mariners
19RICKLES, NickC22Ft. Lauderdale, FLBurlington Bees (A+)Oakland A's
6DECKER, Cody1B25Santa Monica, CASan Antonio Missions (AA)San Diego Padres
25FREIMAN, Nate1B25Wellesley, MASan Antonio Missions (AA)San Diego Padres
9ORLOFF, Ben2B25Simi Valley, CACorpus Christi Hooks (AA)Houston Astros
2SATIN, Josh2B27Hidden Hills, CABuffalo Bisons (AAA)New York Mets
33HAERTHER, Casey3B24West Hills, CAArkansas Travelers (AA)Los Angeles Angels
7LEMMERMAN, JakeSS23Coronoa del Mar, CAChattanooga Lookouts (AA)Los Angeles Dodgers
15GREEN, ShawnOF39Des Plaines, ILN.A.N.A.
24GUEZ, BenOF25Houston, TXToledo Mud Hens (AAA)Detroit Tigers
18KAPLER, GabeOF37Hollywood, CAN.A.N.A.
31PEDERSON, JocOF20Palo Ato, CARancho Cucamonga Quakes (A+)Los Angeles Dodgers
23WIDLANSKY, RobbieOF/3B27Plantation, FLBowie Baysox (AA)Baltimore Orioles

Here are some other facts and observations on Team Israel’s roster for the qualifiers:

  • Of the 23 minor leaguers on the roster, three ended the 2012 season with a Triple-A team, 12 at the Double-A level, six at A-advanced, and two with a Single-A team.
  • Adam Greenberg, a former Major Leaguer who is trying to mount a comeback, was invited to Jupiter for tryouts but is not on the roster.
  • Josh Satin, who played briefly for the New York Mets in 2011 and 2012, is the only player with MLB experience.
  • The youngest player on the roster is 20-year-old outfielder Joc Pederson, who is ranked the Los Angeles Dodgers’ No. 3 prospect by MLB.com. The oldest player is 39-year-old Shawn Green, whose 15-year MLB career included five seasons with the Dodgers and ended with the New York Mets in 2007. Green’s 328 career HRs are second only to Hank Greenberg’s 331 among Jewish ballplayers.
  • Israeli player Alon Leichman plays for Cypress College, a community college in California.
  • During the qualifiers for the 2012 European Championship, Israeli pitcher Shlomo Lipetz was masterful, giving up just one earned run over 16-and-a-third innings while striking out 18 and walking three.
  • Three players on Team Israel are 6-foot-7-inches tall: pitchers Brett Lorin and Max Perlman, and 1B Nate Freiman. At 5-foot-8-inches, Alon Leichman is the shortest.
  • Nate Freiman and Cody Decker, teammates on the San Antonio Missions (AA), finished 2nd and 3rd in HRs this season among Texas League players.

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Ben Guez, Detroit Tigers prospect

By Zev Ben Avigdor/Jewish Baseball News

You don’t hear many Jewish athletes talk about their bar mitzvah, or how it helped them develop the discipline necessary to master their sport. But Ben Guez (pronounced ‘Gezz’), whose father hails from Tunisia and Paris, is no ordinary ballplayer.

An outfielder in the Sam Fuld mode — strong arm, great plate discipline, good baserunner — the 25-year-old Detroit Tigers prospect was playing Triple-A ball by his third minor-league season. In 2012, the bulk of which he’s spent with the Toledo Mud Hens (AAA), Guez is batting a combined .289 with 9 HRs, 6 triples, 24 doubles, 48 RBIs, 15 stolen bases, and a .403 on-base percentage in 370 at-bats.

The Houston, Tex., native has always excelled. At age 7, he promised to hit a grand slam for his mother’s birthday, and he delivered. At 13, he helped his local Maccabi baseball team win a gold medal. Guez was a Colonial Athletic Association All-Star at the College of William and Mary, where he hit .312 with an .874 OPS, and he was a standout in the prestigious Cape Cod Summer League.

JBN contributor Zev Ben Avigdor chatted with Guez before a recent doubleheader in Syracuse. An edited transcription of that interview follows.

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Tell us a little about your Jewish background.

I was raised Jewish. I wasn’t born to a Jewish mother, but a Jewish father, whose family was Jewish, of course. He was born in Tunisia, Africa, in 1945. His family moved to Paris—most of his family moved to Paris. They live in a Jewish neighborhood there. He still does have a sister and a couple of other relatives who live in Israel, in Tel Aviv and in [Mazkeret] Batya, I think. And so I was converted at birth, and my siblings and I were raised Jewish—we had bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs—and it’s just been with me as I’ve grown up. So my dad is very involved and very much practiced in Judaism, and when I told him about being able to play for Israel, if that worked out, he was ecstatic. But either way, he’s ecstatic that I play.

And you’ve been to Israel?

I have. I was there when I was maybe 8 or 10. I was young. I went with my brother and my dad. We went to Paris and saw his family, and saw his family in Israel, too.

At some point, did you find yourself having to cut back on some of the Jewish things just because baseball can become so consuming?

Definitely. Baseball has always been it for me. I’ve always put all my time into it. Judaism, I guess, has taken a back seat to that, but I wouldn’t be where I was if I didn’t focus so much on this.

Is it safe to say that it’s not really because Judaism became less important, it just was a question of how much time you had?

Yeah, you could say that.

When you said in an interview a couple of years ago that your bar mitzvah and your Jewish upbringing helped to make you a better baseball player, what did you mean?

I believe it was just another vehicle my father used to show me that there is no substitution for hard work in life. It did not have to be my bar mitzvah per se, but that I was actively working at something that was rewarding and had meaning—it’s not what you are getting from the work you put into something, but what you are becoming. In other words, it made me better because it was just more practice at the process of accomplishing something through time, hard work, and discipline. I believe that if you give everything you have at the struggle of making a dream a reality, then you are a success no matter the outcome.

Does anything reconnect you to being Jewish again as you’ve moved up through the minor leagues?

My dad. That never leaves him, and it’ll never leave us and every chance he gets, he’s still instilling that, not only in me, but his family and his friends. So having him there is what keeps me so close to it.

What’s you favorite Jewish holiday?

Well, I mean, I remember as a kid—I guess I wouldn’t say it was my favorite, because I spent so many hours in the synagogue when I was a kid and I wanted to play baseball—but the High Holidays, Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. Just that I got to spend time with my family and that it was so important to my dad, I think, is what made it important to me.

You picked the High Holidays, and that’s a very spiritual time of the year. Is that part of it?

Again, I think maybe it’s just how my dad felt. I don’t know if there’s that [spiritual element], or what there is or what there isn’t. I just know how important it is to my dad, and seeing how important it would be for me, to him. And maybe with my kids, I could see. Now that I have a daughter of my own, I know why my dad is the way he is, and so it’s a circle.

A fan wanted me to ask you if you ever feel different, playing baseball, because you’re Jewish.

Yes and no. I’d say yes, because sure I guess maybe there aren’t that many Jewish players, but no, because I don’t want to feel different. I’m not afraid of who I am, though, and I’m not scared to be who I am, so if that’s how it is, then that’s how it is. I have no willingness to change.

Here’s another question from a fan: What do you like best about being Jewish?

What do I like best about being Jewish? I guess I never really thought about what I liked best about it. I guess if I had to say what I liked the best it’d be that the Jewish culture really sticks together. I mean you’re here because, I imagine, some Jewish fans really like the way I play. I think the fact that the Jewish culture really sticks behind you, really wants their own to succeed, is pretty cool, and that’s what I like best, because so often people don’t want you to succeed. I’m not saying that other cultures do or don’t, I can’t speak for those—but that’s pretty cool.

You’re the kind of player who goes all out, every play.

I try. I try to.

The way you play makes you, in a lot of people’s minds, a hero. Players like you are the reason people love to watch baseball.

Well I don’t know what to say.

Jewish Baseball News talks about having Jewish baseball heroes. How does it feel to be a hero to lots of people?

I guess I never thought of myself as being a hero for playing a game that I loved. That’s just how I grew up playing, and how I grew up watching other players play. And if that makes me a hero— I mean, there are far greater heroes out there than me. But if I can be a small hero or a hero to some, then I think that’s incredible.

Who are your heroes?

Growing up, I guess it was baseball players, too. Which is kind of odd, because now that I’m a baseball player I don’t think of myself as a hero. There are far greater heroes out there who do it every day, and not just in sports, but I guess sports is kind of on a platform. I grew up watching Craig Biggio play. I was an Astros fan, so I watched those guys growing up. Craig Biggio gave it everything he had; he’s from New York, by the way. And [I grew up] hearing my dad talk about Hank Greenberg and guys like that, in terms of heroes. Every day, there’s somebody new.

Not just fans like the way you play. Other baseball players do, too. How does it feel to know that other Jewish baseball players want you to succeed?

I never would’ve thought that people would say that about me, but that’s awesome. Because I want everybody who works hard for their goals [to succeed]. That’s something that my parents instilled in me as a kid. If you have a dream, and you work hard enough, and you perform enough, you can make it happen, whatever that dream is. That’s incredible that other players want me to succeed, because I wouldn’t want anything other than success for those players behind me—if I made it—and for those in front of me. [In baseball] and in life it’s about giving it everything you have and not holding anything back, and for those who do that, I think they should be rewarded.

Do you have any advice for young Jewish kids who want to play baseball?

It’s exactly what I just said. Whatever it is you choose in life, there are no guarantees. You don’t know if you will make it or not, so the decision should never be about whether or not it’s guaranteed. What’s more or less likely to happen shouldn’t be why you choose something. You should choose something because you love it. And if you love it, you’ll give everything you have for it, and you’ll be far more likely to succeed. And if you give everything you have at the thing you love, then you’ll never work a day in your life, and you’ll enjoy it, too, and you’ll probably give back, too. Then when those people are in my position, they’ll be able to look back and say the same thing to the people coming after them.

Speaking of giving back, are there any causes or charities that you’d like the readers to know about, that you’d like them to support, that are dear to your heart?

There are a bunch. Lately, I’ve been focused on food, actually, on global health. I don’t really have a specific cause, but just that it could be better. Hunger and nutrition—even the foods that we eat aren’t the best. That’s just one cause, one of many.

Anything else you would like to tell the readers of Jewish Baseball News about who you are?

Just thanks for following me. And it’s been a hell of a ride and I hope it keeps going. And I hope they keep following.

(Editor’s note: “Zev Ben Avigdor” is the pen name of a university scholar who writes for Jewish Baseball News. Click here to see more of his interviews.)

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Good news Monday (8/27/2012)

By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night, nor even pesky tropical storms, shall stay this website from its appointed rounds:

  • Ike Davis was mobbed by New York Mets teammates Sunday after hitting his second round-tripper of the day, a walk-off HR against the Houston Astros. The New York Mets 1B has 22 HRs this year, tied for 7th best in the N.L. By the way, if you plan to be in New York City on Sept. 9, Davis is hosting a benefit concert to raise funds for childhood-cancer research.
  • Just three months into his professional career, St. Louis Cardinals prospect Jeremy Schaffer has been named an Appalachian League all-star. The 22-year-old Tulane University alum is hitting .271 with 10 HRs and leads the league both in doubles (20) and RBIs (51) in just 229 at-bats.
  • Kevin Youkilis hit a grand-slam HR against the New York Yankees on Tuesday (8/21/2012) to break a 2-2 tie. The third slam of his career, it sent the Chicago White Sox’s home crowd into a frency (see video). Later in the week, Youk told Israel Sports Radio he’ll play for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic if the team makes it past next month’s qualifying round, presuming he’s healthy. Click here for tickets to the qualifiers in Jupiter, Fla.
  • Nate Freiman leads all AA players with 102 RBIs. It’s the second straight 100 RBI-plus season for the 6’7″ San Diego Padres prospect. A first baseman with the San Antonio Missions, Freiman is hitting .292 with 23 HRs. Talk about consistent: he had 20 RBIs in April, 22 in May, 21 in June, 20 in July, and 19 so far in August.
  • Former Cleveland Indians prospect Alex Kaminsky is making a name for himself in the independent Frontier League. A 24-year-old righty with the Gateway Grizzlies, Kaminsky hasn’t allowed a run in his past three starts, including a 6-and-one-third-inning stint Thursday (8/23/2012) en route to a 1-0 win over the Windy City ThunderBolts. He’s 10-4 this season with a 3.43 ERA.
  • Ben Guez has had only 265 at-bats at the AAA level this year, but that hasn’t stopped the Detroit Tigers prospect from collecting six triples, tying him for 4th-highest in the International League. Guez is hitting a combined .297 in AAA and AA this year, with 8 HRs, 44 RBIs, 13 stolen bases, and a. 414 on-base percentage.
  • Tampa Bay Rays prospect Sean Bierman is quietly racking-up quite a rookie season. A 10th-round draft pick this June, the 6’0″ lefty recently was promoted to the Bowling Green Hot Rods (A) from the Hudson Valley Renegades (A-short season). In a combined 12 games, Bierman is 5-2 with a 2.67 ERA, 39 strikeouts, and just 6 walks in 57-and-a-third innings — less than one base on balls per 9 innings.
  • Ian Kinsler went 3-for-5 Saturday (8/25/2012) with a HR and a three-run triple in a 9-3 rout of the Minnesota Twins. Kinlers hit .308 in his last 10 games, with 2 HRs, 9 RBIs, and 8 walks. ESPN.com notes that he’s hitting outside balls far better than inside balls this season.
  • Sam Fuld sparked another win last week (8/20/2012), leading the Tampa Bay Rays to a 5-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals. The Tampa Bay Times said it best: “Fuld delivered a spark with two great catches and two hits, including stretching a single into a double in the eighth, then lighting the Captain Morgan lamp as the player of the game. ‘Sammy does everything right,’ manager Joe Maddon said.”

Have any good news about Jewish athletes? Send it to sbarancik@jewishbaseballnews.com.

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Good news Monday (8/20/2012)

By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Fear not: there is still some good news in the world:

  • Sam Fuld‘s heroic fielding and hustle have earned him the nickname “Super Sam,” but Tampa Bay Rays fans may just want to call him “Sparkplug.” Though a wrist injury kept Fuld off the field this season until July 24, the club has gone 18-and-7 since his return. The 30-year-old utility outfielder’s impact was never more clear than on Saturday (8/18/2012). The Rays were down 8-0 to the Los Angeles Angels when Fuld singled in his team’s first run, launching a 7-run inning that ultimately propelled the Rays to an improbable 10-8 win.
  • Detroit Tigers prospect Ben Guez continues to enjoy a breakout year with the club’s AA and AAA teams. The diminutive outfielder — he is listed at 5’10” and 180 pounds, about the same size as Sam Fuld — is hitting a combined .300 with 8 HRs, 5 triples, 42 RBIs, 12 stolen bases, and a preposterously high .423 on-base percentage. He has spent roughly three-quarters of the season with the Toledo Mud Hens (AAA).
  • Two of the N.L.’s top home-run hitters are Jewish. Milwaukee Brewers LF Ryan Braun, the reigning N.L. MVP, hit four dingers over a 3-game stretch last week and leads the league with 33 overall. New York Mets 1B Ike Davis has hit a career-high 22 HRs, good enough for 12th place.
  • Not to be outdone are San Diego Padres prospects Nate Freiman and Cody Decker. Teammates on the San Antonio Missions (AA), the pair rank 4th and 5th among all double-A players in home runs, with 23 and 22 respectively. Decker had an additional 5 HRs with the Padres’ AAA team, giving him 27 overall. Freiman, a 6’7″ first baseman, is hitting .298 and leads all AA players with 98 RBIs8.
  • Craig Breslow made the most of his two-pitch appearance Saturday (8/18/2012). The Boston Red Sox reliever entered the game with one out in the 8th inning, a 3-1 lead, a man on first base, and New York Yankees 2B Robinson Cano at the plate. Breslow’s second pitch, a cutter, lured Cano into an inning-ending double play, but what caught the eye of many observers was his batterymate: catcher Ryan Lavarnway. Several Jewish Baseball News readers, including Jerome Deutsch, noted the rarity of this all-Jewish battery. (Yes, it has happened before.) But even rarer was the fact that both men attended Yale University. According to the Yale Daily News, Breslow (Class of 2002) and Lavarnway (Class of 2009) were the first Yale batterymates since 1883. Said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine after the game: “I got a lot smarter having them out there.”
  • We’re only a month away from Team Israel’s appearance at the World Baseball Classic qualifying round in Jupiter, Fla. Among those scheduled to play in the team’s September 19 opener against South Africa are player-coaches Shawn Green (ranked second among Jewish major-leaguers in career HRs), former MLB’er Gabe Kapler, a variety of of other current and ex-pros, and a handful of Israelis. Click here for tickets.
  • Joc Pederson is on a roll. Ranked the Los Angeles Dodgers’ No. 3 prospect by MLB.com, the 20-year-old son of former major-leaguer Stu Pederson is batting .400 over his past 10 games with 5 HRs, 4 doubles, 11 RBIs, 3 walks, and 2 stolen bases. An outfielder with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A-advanced), Pederson is hitting .313 this season with 17 HRs, 59 RBIs, 22 stolen bases, a .397 on-base percentage, and an OPS (on-base plus slugging) of .918.
  • Danny Rosenbaum is the Jekyll & Hyde of 2012. After starting the year 5-0 with an 0.71 ERA and just four walks for the Harrisonburg Senators (AA), there was talk the Washington Nationals might call-up the 6’1″ lefty in September. (See Rosenbaum’s May 2012 interview with Jewish Baseball News contributor Zev Ben Avigdor.) But when his go-to catcher Sandy Leon was called-up to the majors, everything seemed to fall apart, and today the 24-year-old’s record is a less stellar 8-and-9 with a 3.73 ERA. On Saturday (8/18/2012), though, it looked like the ‘old’ Rosenbaum had returned. Danny pitched 7 shutout innings in a 2-1 win over the Erie SeaWolves, giving up just five hits and one walk.

Have any good news about Jewish athletes? Send it to sbarancik@jewishbaseballnews.com.

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Good news Monday (6/18/2012)

By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Monday-morning blues be damned:

  • After crushing minor-league pitching during a 15-game rehab stint,  Ryan Kalish is back with the Boston Red Sox, and boy did he make a good entrance yesterday (6/17/2012). In his first big-league game since 2010, the 25-year-old outfielder broke up a 3-3 tie in the 7th inning with an RBI single, and the Sox went on to defeat the Chicago Cubs 7-4. He later scored on a suicide squeeze. Kudos to Ryan for his grit and courage in overcoming shoulder and neck surgery.
  • Texas Rangers fans recently were asked to name the franchise’s all-time greatest players in honor of its 40th anniversary. The top second baseman? Ian Kinsler, of course. Only two other active position players were named to the all-time squad: SS Michael Young, and reigning A.L. MVP Josh Hamilton. Kinsler is particularly popular among the younger set. Little Leaguers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area reportedly emulate the 29-year-old by pulling their socks up high.
  • After a season-long slump that had people speculating on a possible demotion, Ike Davis is hitting again. The New York Mets first baseman batted .478 over the past 8 games, contributing 1 HR, 7 RBIs, and 7 walks.
  • Jewish players had a bellwether day Saturday (6/16/2012). Of the 17 Major- and minor-leaguers who came to the plate, 16 got at least one hit, 10 had two or more hits,and together they collected a total of 3 HRs, 16 RBIs, and 7 walks in 67 at-bats.
  • It’s been a good couple weeks for Detroit Tigers prospect Ben Guez. A 25-year-old outfielder with the Toledo Mud Hens (AAA), Guez hit a grand-slam HR, gamely tried (and failed) to stretch a triple into an inside-the-park HR, hit 2 doubles in two consecutive games, and raised his average and on-base percentage in Toledo to .287 and .380, respectively.
  • Also on fire is Baltimore Orioles prospect Robbie Widlansky. An outfielder and designated hitter with the Bowie Baysox (AA), the 27-year-old batted .450 over his past 10 games and had hits in every one of them, along with 10 RBIs. Widansky’s 41 RBIs and 17 doubles are tied for 3rd highest in the Eastern League.
  • San Diego Padres prospect Nate Freiman, a 6’7″ slugger who leads the Texas League with 57 RBIs and is #2 in HRs with 15, is winning off the field, too. Freiman is engaged to marry fellow athlete and Duke University alum Amanda Blumenhurst, a professional golfer.
  • Two members of the Stony Brook University team that made an unlikely appearance at the 2012 College World Series are Jewish: Maxx Tissenbaum, a junior drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 11th round of this months’ draft, and freshman Steven Goldstein. Stony Brook was eliminated Sunday (6/17/2012) by Florida State University. Tissenbaum finished the season with a .390 average, 3 HRs, and 51 RBIs, second-highest on the team. Goldstein hit .337 with 4 HRs and 34 RBIs. He ranked second in stolen bases with 14.

Have any good news about Jewish athletes? Send it to sbarancik@jewishbaseballnews.com.

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Our 2011 Spring Training Awards

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — At least 19 Jews got playing time during Spring Training 2011, including five pitchers and 14 position players.

Here are our awards honoring the best, worst, and most surprising performances:

Best All-Around Offense: Ian Kinsler. The Texas Rangers 2B didn’t look like the same player who sat out nearly 100 games last season with injuries. Kinsler, 28, led all Jewish batters with 7 doubles, 5 HRs, 13 RBIs (tied), and a .389 on-base percentage. Although Jewish batters as a group struck out way more than they walked (94 vs. 41), Kinsler was one of just two players who didn’t, matching his 5 Ks with 5 BBs.

Best All-Around Offense (runner-up): Ryan Braun. The Milwaukee Brewers LF batted only 40 times, but that didn’t stop him from hitting 4 HRs, driving in 11 runs, and leading all Jews with 15 runs scored, a .325 batting average, .700 slugging percentage, and 1.072 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage).

Best All-Around Offense (honorable mention): Ike Davis. The New York Mets 1B pretty much matched the productivity of his 2010 rookie season, hitting .273 with 3 HRs, 13 RBIs (tied/1st), and a .344 on-base percentage.

Breakout offense: Sam Fuld. At 29, you can’t quite call the Tampa Bay Rays CF an up-and-comer. But Fuld made the most of what turned out to be his best chance in years to make an opening-day roster, hitting .277 with 1 HR, 5 extra-base hits, 8 RBIs, and 4 stolen bases. And he got his wish: a seat on the Rays’ bench.

Most disappointing offense: Kevin Youkilis. Whatever you chalk it up to — bad thumb, the distraction of switching from 1B to 3B, etc. — the Boston Red Sox stalwart, normally an on-base machine, struggled at the plate this Spring. Youk hit  just .175 with no HRs, 4 RBIs, a Jew-high 15 strikeouts, and just 4 walks. Teammate Ryan Kalish was a close second in this category, hitting .235 with 0 HRs and one lonely RBI.

Weirdest stats: Ben Guez. The Detroit Tigers CF has yet to play a regular-season MLB game and saw only limited playing time in Spring Training, getting 12 plate appearances and 7 at-bats. But oh, what Guez did with them. The 24-year-old singled twice, doubled once, and walked five times, good enough for a .429 batting average and .667 on-base percentage.

Nicest surprise: John Grabow. After a dismal 2010 in which he went 1-3 with a 7.36 ERA and “held” opposing batters to a .321 average, the Chicago Cubs reliever must have grown tired of being Public Enemy #1 in the Windy City. How else can you explain Grabow’s 2.57 ERA in Spring Training? A close second to Grabow in this awards category is Washington Nationals starter Jason Marquis, who went 2-9 with a 6.60 ERA in an injury-plagued 2010 season but finished Spring Training with a 1-1 record and a 4.02 ERA.

Worst surprise: Craig Breslow. Arguably the only Jewish MLB pitcher who didn’t embarrass himself last year, the Oakland A’s reliever went 4-4 in 2010 with a 3.01 ERA, holding opposing batters to a meek .194 batting average. But Breslow had an awful spring, with an 11.25 ERA and an opposing-hitters batting average of, believe it or not, .500. The saving grace? We’re only talking about 5 appearances and 4 innings pitched, not a lot to go on. Still, the Freaky Friday switcheroo Breslow and Grabow did this Spring has got us mighty confused.

Here are the final 2011 Spring Training stats for position players:

TEAM POS AB R 2B HR RBI AVG OBP
James Rapoport STL CF 1 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000
Ben Guez DET CF 7 0 1 0 0 .429 .667
Ryan Lavarnway BOS CF 9 1 1 1 3 .333 .333
Josh Satin NYM 2B 6 1 0 1 2 .333 .333
Ryan Braun MIL LF 40 15 3 4 11 .325 .372
Danny Valencia MIN 3B 65 6 6 1 8 .308 .333
Ian Kinsler TEX 2B 63 14 7 5 13 .302 .389
Sam Fuld TB CF 47 9 3 1 8 .277 .333
Ike Davis NYM 1B 55 5 4 3 13 .273 .344
Gabe Kapler LAD RF 45 6 3 1 7 .244 .277
Ryan Kalish TB LF 51 4 2 0 1 .235 .316
Jake Lemmerman LAD SS 5 1 1 0 0 .200 .200
Kevin Youkilis BOS 3B 57 3 2 0 4 .175 .238
Jason Kipnis CLE 2B 18 3 0 1 2 .167 .250
TOTAL 469 68 33 18 72 .269

And the final 2011 stats for pitchers:

TEAM W L ERA G IP H BB SO
John Grabow CHC 0 0 2.57 7 7.0 8 3 4
Jason Marquis WSH 1 1 4.02 4 15.2 15 6 9
Aaron Poreda SD 0 1 6.75 3 2.2 2 5 1
Michael Schwimer PHI 0 0 7.20 4 5.0 5 2 4
Craig Breslow OAK 0 0 11.25 5 4.0 9 2 2
TOTAL 1 2 5.35

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TEAM W L ERA G IP H BB SO
John Grabow CHC 0 0 2.57 7 7 8 3 4
Jason Marquis WSH 1 1 4.02 4 15.2 15 6 9
Aaron Poreda SD 0 1 6.75 3 2.2 2 5 1
Michael Schwimer PHI 0 0 7.20 4 5 5 2 4
Craig Breslow OAK 0 0 11.25 5 4 9 2 2
TOTAL 1 2 5.35
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JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Spring Training 2011 is just two weeks old. Many players are still shedding their off-season rust. But a couple Jewish players are already tearing the stitching off the ball.

Texas Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler, who was hobbled by injuries last season, leads all MLB players with 4 HRs, is tied for second with 7 RBIs, and is batting .444 (8/18). Figure in walks, and he has a nifty on-base percentage of .545.

Also hitting well is Minnesota Twins 3B Danny Valencia. After finishing 3rd in voting for the A.L. Rookie of the Year award last year, Valencia is batting .500 (6/12) with 3 RBIs and is tied for the A.L. lead in doubles, with four.

Here is how all Jewish position players were doing through Mon., March 7:

 

TEAM
AB H HR RBI BB AVG OBP
Danny Valencia
MIN
12 6 0 3 1 .500 .538
Ian Kinsler
TEX
18 8 4 7 3 .444 .545
Ryan Braun
MIL
11 3 1 2 1 .273 .333
Ike Davis NYM 12 3 1 3 4 .250 .438
Ben Guez
DET
4 1 0 0 3 .250 .571
Gabe Kapler
LAD
15 3 0 1 0 .200 .200
Kevin Youkilis
BOS
13 2 0 1 1 .154 .214
Jason Kipnis
CLE
13 2 1 2 2 .154 .267
Ryan Kalish
TB
16 2 0 0 2 .125 .222
Sam Fuld
TB
9 1 0 0 0 .111 .111
Ryan Lavarnway
BOS
4 0 0 0 0 .000 .000
Jake Lemmerman
LAD
1 0 0 0 0 .000 .000

Among pitchers, Washington Nationals starter Jason Marquis followed up a difficult 2010 with a strong spring-training outing, giving up just 1 hit over 3 innings in his only game played so far. Here’s how all Jewish pitchers were doing through March 7:

 

TEAM
W L ERA G IP H BB SO
Jason Marquis
WSH
0 0 0.00 1 3 1 0 1
Aaron Poreda
SD
0 0 5.40 2 1.2 0 4 1
Michael Schwimer
PHI
0 0 13.50 2 2 4 0 1
John Grabow
CHC
0 0 18.00 1 1 3 0 1
Craig Breslow
OAK
Scott Feldman TEX
Jason Hirsh NYY
David Kopp STL

To track Jewish players in Spring Training, visit Jewish Baseball News for our daily box score.

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TEAM
AB H HR RBI BB AVG OBP
Danny Valencia
MIN
12 6 0 3 1 .500 .538
Ian Kinsler
TEX
18 8 4 7 3 .444 .545
Ryan Braun
MIL
11 3 1 2 1 .273 .333
Ike Davis NYM 12 3 1 3 4 .250 .438
Ben Guez
DET
4 1 0 0 3 .250 .571
Gabe Kapler
LAD
15 3 0 1 0 .200 .200
Kevin Youkilis
BOS
13 2 0 1 1 .154 .214
Jason Kipnis
CLE
13 2 1 2 2 .154 .267
Ryan Kalish
TB
16 2 0 0 2 .125 .222
Sam Fuld
TB
9 1 0 0 0 .111 .111
Ryan Lavarnway
BOS
4 0 0 0 0 .000 .000
Jake Lemmerman
LAD
1 0 0 0 0 .000 .000
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JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — So far, at least four Jewish minor-leaguers have been invited to attend Major League spring training camps in 2011.

According to MLB team web sites, four ballplayers have been identified as “non-roster invitees” — that is, they have been invited to attend spring training even though they are not on their team’s 40-man roster. They include:

  • CF Ben Guez, 23 (Detroit Tigers). Guez hit a combined .249 for 3 minor-league teams in 2010, including the “AAA” Toledo Mud Hens. He had 10 HRs, 43 RBIs, a .341 on-base percentage, and 14 stolen bases. Guez also played in the Arizona Fall League, which MLB teams typically reserve for their top minor-league prospects.
  • SP Jason Hirsh, 28 (New York Yankees). A 6’8″ right hander, Hirsh went 9-7 with the “AAA” Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in 2010, racking up a 3.90 ERA and a strong strikeout-to-walk ratio of 95/39. He played in the MLB from 2006-08, pitching both for the Houston Astros and Colorado Rockies.
  • 2B Jason Kipnis, 23 (Cleveland Indians). The Indians’ minor-league player of the year in 2010, Kipnis hit a combined .307 for the club’s “AA” and “A-advanced” teams, with 16 HRs, 74 RBIs, a .386 OBP, .492 SLG, and 9 stolen bases. Called up to “AAA” for the post-season, he went 10/22, hit for the cycle once, and fell a single short of hitting for the cycle the following game. Also played in the Arizona Fall League, where he was among the league leaders in several batting categories.
  • SP Michael Schwimer, 24 (Philadelphia Phillies). Another 6’8″ right hander, Schwimer went a combined 7-5 with the Phillies’ “AAA” and “AA” teams in 2010, with a 2.85 ERA and an impressive 76 strikeouts in just 60 innings.

According to MLB.com, two additional Jewish minor leaguers have been added to their respective MLB team’s 40-man roster. Whether or not this means they’ll be attending spring training is unclear. They are:

  • SP David Kopp, 25 (St. Louis Cardinals). Kopp had a rough time with the Cards’ “AAA” team in 2010 (he went 0-5 with a 8.63 ERA) but finished the season strong with the “AA” squad, where he went 12-4 with a 3.05 ERA.
  • RP Aaron Poreda, 24 (San Diego Padres). The 6’6″ left hander, who pitched well during a brief major-league stint with the Padres in 2009, went a combined 1-2 with the team’s “AAA” and “AA” squads in 2010, along with a 3.83 ERA and an opponent batting average of just .176. Poreda gave up just one HR in 54 innings but had a weak strikeout-to-walk ratio of 47/64.

Thanks to Jewish Baseball News reader Michael Lebowitz for the tips about Guez and Kipnis.

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AFL: End-of-season player stats

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — The Arizona Fall League’s 30-game regular season came to an end Thursday (11/17/2008). So how did its six Jewish players do?

Hitters

  • 2B Josh Satin, Mesa Solar Sox (New York Mets). In 41 at-bats, Satin hit a blistering .390 with 2 doubles, 1 HR, 6 RBIs, a .479 on-base percentage (OBP), and .512 slugging percentage (SLP). He saw limited play because the Mets, feeling he already had played a lot in 2010, put him on the AFL’s “taxi squad,” which restricted him to 2 games per week.
  • 2B Jason Kipnis, Peoria Javelinas (Cleveland Indians). In 78 at-bats, Kipnis hit .295 with 3 HRs, 11 doubles (tied for 1st in the league), 3 triples (3rd/tie), 3 HRs, 19 RBIs (4th/tie), .337 OBP, .628 SLG (5th), and 2 stolen bases. Great figures no doubt, but the real story is about mental toughness. Kipnis began the season uncharacteristically struggling at the plate, his batting average just .159 through October. But in November, he rebounded by batting .471 with 8 doubles and 9 RBIs. And he did it while enduring day-to-day uncertainty about where he would play: 2B, 3B, or DH.
  • C Ryan Lavarnway, Peoria Javelinas (Boston Red Sox). In 82 at-bats, Lavarnway hit .268 with 3 doubles, 3 HRs, 12 RBIs, .380 OBP and .415 SLG. His 16 walks tied for 3rd in the league.
  • OF Ben Guez, Surprise Rafters (Detroit Tigers). In 57 at-bats, Guez hit .228 with 2 doubles, 1 triple, 3 HRs, 6 RBIs, .302 OBP, and 4 stolen bases. Six of his 13 hits were for extra bases, leading to a healthy .456 SLG. But Guez’s power stroke came at the cost of a low batting average…and 21 strikeouts.

Pitchers

  • SP Josh Zeid, Mesa Solar Sox (Philadelphia Phillies). Zeid went 3-0 with a 3.86 ERA. In 14 innings, he struck out 12 and walked just one batter. He held opposing teams to a .204 batting average.
  • RP Eric Berger, Peoria Javelinas (Cleveland Indians). Playing in a middle-relief role, Berger went 0-0 with an .082 ERA. In 11 innings, Berger struck out 12, walked 8, and held opposing teams to a .171 batting average.

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Lavarnway’s homer, and more

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Here is your Arizona Fall League update for Wednesday, Nov. 10:

  • 2B Jason Kipnis, a Cleveland Indians prospect, hit a double and a 2-run single in the Peoria Javelinas’ 8-5 win over the Surprise Rafters. Kipnis is batting .217 with 3 HRs, 10 extra-base hits, and 14 RBIs in 60 at-bats.
  • C Ryan Lavarnway, a Boston Red Sox prospect and Kipnis’ teammate on the Javelinas, singled and hit a solo HR. He’s batting .302 with 3 HRs, 9 RBIs and a .423 on-base percentage. His 14 walks are tied for 2nd-best in the AFL.
  • Rafters OF Ben Guez, a Detroit Tigers prospect, went 0/4 in a losing effort. He’s batting .279 with 3 HRs, 6 RBIs, 4 stolen bases, and an OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) of .949, 12th-best in the AFL.
  • 2B Josh Satin, a New York Mets prospect who has seen limited action in the AFL but recently had a 5-RBI game, singled once and walked twice in a 9-6 loss to the Phoenix Desert Dogs. In 28 at-bats, Satin has 1 HR, 6 RBIs, a .429 batting average and .529 on-base percentage. Why is he getting so little playing time? Satin recently answered that question in a note to Jewish Baseball News:

I’m on the taxi squad which means you can only play twice a week. I played so many games this season that the Mets thought only playing a few a week would be a good idea.

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Satin smacks HR, 5 RBIs in rare appearance

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — New York Mets prospect Josh Satin hasn’t gotten much playing time in the Arizona Fall League, but he’s made the most of those opportunities.

On Friday (11/5/2010), Satin led the Mesa Solar Sox to a 13-5 win over the Surprise Rafters, going 3/5 with a 3-run HR and a 2-run single (see photo). He’s hitting .476 for the season in just 21 at-bats.

The 25-year-old North Hollywood native was among the top Jewish performers during the 2010 regular season. In a year split between the “A-advanced” St. Lucie Mets and the “AA” Binghamton Mets, he hit a combined .311 (3rd highest among minor-league Jews) with 39 doubles (2nd), 12 HRs, 74 RBIs (3rd/tie), and .399 on-base percentage (2nd/tie).

He also was named MVP of the 2010 Carolina League All-Star Game. Satin tied the game with a two-run HR in the 8th inning and hit a go-ahead single in the 10th to give the South division a 5-4 win.

Until midyear 2010, Satin mostly played 2B, but Binghamton split him evenly between 1B and 2B. In Friday’s game, he played 1B.

Surprise Rafters CF Ben Guez, a Detroit Tigers prospect, did not play Friday.

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JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Baseball’s annual “Rising Stars” game will be broadcast on Saturday night (11/6/2010), and this year there’s even more reason than usual to watch.

The 50 minor-leaguers chosen to play in the showcase game include 19 former 1st-round draft picks, and as a group they are considered among the most likely to play MLB ball in 2011. More than half of the contestants in 2009’s Rising Stars game ended up in the Majors in 2010.

What’s more, this year’s squad includes 3 Jewish players:

  • SP Josh Zeid. The Philadelphia Phillies prospect recently was named Best Reliever in Class A ball. Currently playing for the Mesa Solar Sox of the prestigious Arizona Fall League, the 6’5″ righty is 3-0 with a 3.86 ERA, 12 strikeouts and just one walk. See his blog here.
  • C Ryan Lavarnway. The Boston Red Sox prospect led all Red Sox minor-leaguers with 102 RBIs in 2010. Currently playing for the AFL’s Peoria Javelinas, he is batting .264 with a .412 on-base percentage.
  • 2B Jason Kipnis. The Cleveland Indians named him the franchise’s top minor-league player in 2010. Currently playing alongside Ryan Lavarnway on the Javelinas, he is batting .173 but has 3 HRs and 12 RBIs in just 52 at-bats. See his blog here.

OF Ben Guez was not selected to play. The Detroit Tigers prospect is currently batting .308 for the AFL’s Surprise Rafters and is ranked 7th among all AFL players in OPS (1.041), a statistic that combines a player’s on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

The Rising Stars game will be broadcast nationally at 9:00pm ET Saturday night on the MLB Network. It also will be shown online at MLB.com.

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Gaga over Guez

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — OF Ben Guez of the Surprise Rafters helped carry his team to an 11-4 win over the Peoria Saguaros on Thursday (10/21/2010).

The Detroit Tigers prospect went 4/5 with a solo HR, an RBI double, and 3 runs scored.

Guez delivered in the field, too. After catching a fly ball in the 7th inning, he quickly tossed it to 2nd base to double-off a Saguaros runner.

After five games in the Arizona Fall League, the 23-year-old is batting .333, with 2 HRs, 4 RBIs and a .762 slugging percentage.

Much like in the regular season, Guez is striking out a lot, too: nine times in 21 at-bats.

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JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — The Texas Rangers defeated the New York Yankees 10-3 on Tuesday (10/19/2010), giving the Rangers a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series and leaving the team just one win away from its first World Series berth.

Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler chipped in, hitting an RBI single with two outs in the 7th inning and stealing second base moments later.

The last Jew to play in the World Series was Boston Red Sox 1B Kevin Youkilis, in 2007. Youk went 2/9 with 2 doubles, 3 walks, 1 RBI and 3 runs scored as the Sox trounced the Colorado Rockies 4 games to zero.

In Arizona Fall League play yesterday:

  • OF Ben Guez of the Surprise Rafters hit an RBI triple and drew a walk in a 5-4 loss to the Scottsdale Scorpions. Guez is a Detroit Tigers prospect.
  • 2B Jason Kipnis, a Cleveland Indians prospect, hit an RBI double and reached base on an error in the Peoria Javelinas’ 6-5 loss to the Mesa Solar Sox. Though batting just .167 in 6 games, Kipnis is 2nd among AFL players with 7 RBIs.
  • C Ryan Lavarnway, Kipnis’ teammate on the Javelinas, walked twice and tossed out 1 of 2 Solar Sox players who tried to steal second base. Lavarnway is a Boston Red Sox prospect.

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JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — A little bit of history was made Thursday (10/15/2010) when Peoria Javelinas C Ryan Lavarnway squatted opposite RP Eric Berger, a fellow Jew, during the 4th inning of a game against the Peoria Saguaros.

Both players made the best of their opportunities. Lavarnway, a Boston Red Sox prospect, hit a two-out, three-run HR that put the Javelinas ahead 4-1, smacked a double, and drew a walk. The Saguaros caught up, however, and the game ended in an 11-inning, 4-4 tie.

Berger, who plays in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ farm system, pitched a scoreless (if not effortless) inning for the Javelinas, scattering 2 hits and a walk while striking out 2.

In another Arizona Fall League game, SP Josh Zeid, a Philadelphia Phillies prospect, earned the win for the Mesa Solar Sox in an 11-6 victory over the Surprise Rafters. Zeid gave up one run on 2 hits over 3 innings, striking out 3. Among his strikeout victims was Detroit Tigers prospect and Surprise OF Ben Guez, another of the 5 Jews playing in Jewish player.

Lavarnway, who hit 22 HRs with 102 RBIs in the minors this year, is playing in the AFL primarily to improve his catching skills (see article). Thursday’s game was mostly a good one on that front. Lavarnway threw-out 2 of 4 baserunners trying to steal but also had his first error of the season.

In an e-mail this morning, Martin Abramowitz — the brains behind the Jewish Major Leaguers baseball-card series — cited several examples of Jewish batterymates in Major League Baseball history:

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