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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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Good news Monday (8/13/2012)

By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Mondays bite. But you can bite back:

  • Scott Feldman‘s winning streak ended Friday (8/10/2012) with a 6-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers, but what a streak it was. After losing his first six decisions of the season and amassing a 6.50 ERA, the 6-foot-6-inch Texas Ranger won the next six with a 2.81 ERA.
  • Jason Marquis took a no-hitter into the 7th inning Saturday (8/11/2012) in a 5-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates (see video). The 33-year-old San Diego Padre ended up with a 2-hit, complete-game shutout and has won five of his last six starts. Interestingly, the resurgent Marquis matched the Pirates’ offensive output by going 2-for-4 at the plate. His .276 batting average is third best this season among MLB pitchers with at least 20 at-bats.
  • Jeremy Schaffer, picked by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 18th round of this year’s amateur draft, already is putting up big numbers. The 22-year-old first baseman out of Tulane University leads the Appalachian rookie league with 41 RBIs in just 179 at-bats.
  • The Kevin Youkilis trade just got a little worse for the Boston Red Sox. Not only has Youk been hitting the ball a ton for the Chicago White Sox — since arriving in late June, he’s hit .252 with 10 HRs, 29 RBIs, a .371 on-base percentage, and an .875 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) in 139 at-bats — but his successor at third base, rookie phenom Will Middlebrooks, just suffered a season-ending wrist injury. Coincidence of the day? Middlebrooks’ temporary replacement is recently-acquired 3B Danny Valencia.
  • On Sunday (8/12/2012), Houston Astros prospect Ben Orloff celebrated his recent promotion to the Corpus Christi Hooks (AA) with a 5-for-5 performance. The 25-year-old shortstop doubled, tripled, and drove in 4 runs en route to a 20-9 thrashing of the Springfield Cardinals.
  • Four in one month? That’s how many Jews the Boston Red Sox recently added to their roster. The quartet included Valencia (see above), reliever Craig Breslow, C Ryan Lavarnway, and LF Ryan Kalish, who has since returned to AAA.
  • Just weeks after putting together a 3-HR game, Joc Pederson powered the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A-advanced) to an 11-9 win over the Modesto Nuts. Pederson — ranked the Los Angeles Dodgers’ No.3 prospect by MLB.com — went 3-for-5 with a HR, two doubles, and 5 RBIs.
  • Keep a close eye on Jack Marder. Already ranked the Seattle Mariners’ No. 15 prospect in just his second year of pro ball, the High Desert Mavericks (A-advanced) catcher is batting .363 with 10 HRs, 24 doubles (including three on 7/31/2012), 4 triples, 55 RBIs, 16 stolen bases, and an OPS of 1.019 in only 273 at-bats. Marder is hitting a blistering .413 with runners in scoring position and recently added second base and the outfield to his fielding repertoire. It’s a shame that he may have too few at-bats to qualify for the California League batting crown.
  • As Jewish Baseball News correspondent Zev Ben Avigdor points out on his minor-league Twitter feed, New York Mets prospect Josh Satin is on fire. The 27-year-old first baseman has hit .444 (16-for-36) in the past 10 games, with 2 HRs, six doubles, 4 walks, and 10 RBIs.
  • Next season will mark the 40th anniversary of MLB’s designated hitter rule, and first-ever DH Ron Blomberg already is getting some love for his historic role.
  • Sam Fuld loves going horizontal for fly balls, but the Tampa Bay Ray won’t be leaping tall buildings anytime soon. “Super Sam” told the Tampa Bay Times he’s scared of heights, “mainly bridges, tops of buildings, mountains.” He also revealed his favorite television show (Seinfeld) and said he has a “man crush” on actor Matt Damon — another diminutive but athletic Ivy Leaguer.

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

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Jews playing key role in minor-league playoffs

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — How are Jewish players doing in the minor-league playoffs? Here is an overview, starting with players whose teams are still in the mix, and followed by those already celebrating victory or recently ousted.

Fighting for a championship

The Columbus Clippers (Cleveland Indians) are fighting for the International League (AAA) championship, and 2B Jason Kipnis is doing his best to help. Called up Tuesday (9/14/2010) from the “AA” Akron Aeros, the 23-year-old contributed immediately, going 2/4 with a walk and 3 runs scored in an 18-5, Game 1 victory over the Durham Bulls.

The Memphis Redbirds (St. Louis Cardinals) lost Game 1 of the Pacific Coast League (AAA) championship series to the Tacoma Rainiers, 5-3. Memphis CF James Rapoport went 1/5 with a double in the loss. During a 1st-round sweep of the Oklahoma City RedHawks, he went a combined 7/11 with 2 RBIs, 2 walks and a stolen base.

Each of the two teams battling for the Carolina League (A-advanced) championship features a Jewish pitcher. In fact, one opened Game 1, while the other opened Game 2:

  • In Game 1 of the series (9/14/2010), SP Danny Rosenbaum of the Potomac Nationals (Washington Nationals) gave up 6 hits and 1 earned run over 4 and 1/3 innings in a 4-0 loss to the Winston-Salem Dash. Rosenbaum had a disastrous start earlier in the playoffs, giving up 7 earned runs over one inning in a 10-9 loss to the Frederick Keys (9/8/2010). (The Keys’ starter that night did slightly worse, giving up 8 runs, 6 of them earned, in just 2/3 of an inning.)
  • In Game 2 of the series (9/14/2010), SP Dylan Axelrod of the Winston-Salem Dash (Chicago White Sox) pitched well in a 5-3 loss to  Potomac, allowing two runs on just 3 hits and 1 walk over 7 innings while striking out 5. The defeat evened the series at 1-1. Earlier in the playoffs, Axelrod led Winston-Salem to a 2-0 victory over the Kinston Indians, allowing just two hits and 1 walk over 7 innings, while striking out 9 and retiring 19 batters in a row.

The Midwest League (A) championship series features yet another match-up between Jewish pitchers:

  • The Lake County Captains (Cleveland Indians) will open Game 1 of the series tonight (9/15/2010) with rookie Jason Knapp on the mound. The 20-year-old phenom was dominant in his only other playoff game, a 3-2 win over the West Michigan WhiteCaps (9/10/2010). In that game, Knapp gave up just two infield hits over 5 innings while striking out six and walking one.
  • Jason Markovitz will serve a relief role for the Clinton LumberKings (Seattle Mariners). So far he has pitched one scoreless inning in the playoffs.

The Lakewood BlueClaws (Philadelphia Phillies) are tied 1-1 with the Greenville Drive in the South Atlantic League (A) championship series. BlueClaws RP Josh Zeid pitched 3 perfect innings and struck out 4 en route to a 6-1 win in Game 2 (9/14/2010). In an earlier playoff series against the Hickory Crawdads, the 23-year-old pitched a scoreless inning in a 7-0 victory (9/8/2010), and then hit and walked the only 2 batters he faced in a 2-1 loss to the Crawdads (9/10/2010).

Two Jews are playing for the Ogden Raptors (Los Angeles Dodgers) for the Pioneer League (Rookie) championship, a 3-game series currently led 1-0 by the Orem Owlz:

  • SS Jake Lemmerman went 1/3 and drew a walk in the Raptors’ Game 1 loss to the Owlz, 3-2. The top Jewish pick in the 2010 draft (5th round, 172nd overall), Lemmerman is batting .231 in the playoffs but has a .444 on-base percentage and has scored 5 runs, tied for tops in the Pioneer League playoffs.
  • In two separate playoff appearances, including Tuesday’s loss, RP Andrew Pevsner struck out the only batter he faced. In a third outing he faced three batters and gave up a double, and was charged with an earned run when the next pitcher gave up a home run. Pevsner’s ERA for the playoffs is 6.75.

Already celebrating

The Tri-City Valley Cats (Houston Astros) swept the New York-Penn League (A-short season) championship over the Brooklyn Cyclones (New York Mets). One of the stars was Valley Cats IF Ben Orloff, who led the team with a .333 batting average in the playoffs and recently was named its 2010 Most Valuable Player. In Tuesday’s 5-2 finale (9/14/2010), Orloff went 2/5 and drove in a run.

Out of the running

Two Jewish players made it to the 1st round of the Texas League (AA) playoffs:

  • In his only playoff appearance, Springfield Cardinals (St. Louis Cardinals) SP David Kopp pitched 5 and 1/3 innings in a loss to the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Kansas City Royals), giving up 5 hits and 2 earned runs. Springfield lost the series 3-2. Cardinals C Charlie Cutler did not play.
  • SP Richard Bleier of the Frisco RoughRiders (Texas Rangers) pitched 5 and 2/3 innings in a series-opening loss to the Midland RockHounds, giving up 3 earned runs on 7 hits. Midland won the series 3-1.

Two Jewish players made it to the 1st round of the Midwest League (A) playoffs:

  • 1B Nate Freiman of the Fort Wayne TinCaps (San Diego Padres) went 4/9 (.444) with 2 RBIs and drew 5 walks, raising his on-base percentage to .643. Fort Wayne lost the series 2-1 to the Great Lakes Loons.
  • 1B Casey Haerther of the Cedar Rapids Kernels (Los Angeles Angels) went 1/12 (.083) and struck out six times; his only hit was a double. Cedar Rapids lost the series 2-1 to the Clinton LumberKings.
  • RP Jason Novak of the Quad Cities River Bandits (St. Louis Cardinals) was on the disabled list and did not play.

We’ll keep you posted on the playoff picture.

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