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Browsing Posts tagged Greg Zebrack

By Scott Barancik, editor

A couple of minor-leaguers we didn’t know about until recently have been added to our roster of Jewish players.

As they used to say on Law and Order, here are their stories:

Jeremy Rathjen, 23

A 6-foot-5-inch, 195-pound outfielder out of Rice University, Rathjen was chosen by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 11th round of the 2012 amateur draft. He spent the 2012 season with the rookie-league Ogden Raptors, where he excelled, ranking among team leaders with a .324 average (4th), nine HRs (1st/tie), 53 RBIs (3rd), 17 doubles (2nd/tie), 16 stolen bases (2nd), a .443 on-base percentage (1st), and a .943 OPS (1st).

This year Rathjen’s playing for the Great Lakes Loons (Class A). Through Sunday’s games he was hitting .239 with 7 HRs, 60 RBIs (1st), 29 doubles (1st), 14 hit-by-pitches (1st), and a .347 on-base percentage (3rd).

Rathjen was the valedictorian of his high-school class in Houston, Tex. He turned down the Arizona Diamondbacks, who had selected him in the 45th round of the 2008 draft, to attend Rice. He was selected first team All-Conference USA his senior year and led the Owls with 9 home runs, 14 doubles, and a .525 slugging percentage.

Baseball America predicted he would be chosen within the first five rounds of the 2012 draft, but he dropped to the 11th round, possibly because of an ACL tear in his right knee. Improbably, he was one of three Jewish players chosen in the 11th round that year, the other two being Maxx Tissenbaum (San Diego Padres) and Eric Jaffe (Chicago White Sox).

Greg Zebrack, 22

Greg Zebrack went undrafted in 2013, but he didn’t escape the attention of the Washington Nationals, which signed him shortly after. Since then the 6-foot-1-inch, 200-pound outfielder has played 37 games for the Auburn Doubledays (Class A-short season), hitting .236 with 1 HR, 14 RBIs, 7 stolen bases, and a .336 on-base percentage. He’s hit significantly better with men in scoring position (.290) and against lefties (.310).

Zebrack’s path to the pros was serpentine. After starring on the baseball team at his North Hollywood high school, he rejected a 43rd-round draft bid by the Los Angeles Dodgers in favor of playing for the USC Trojans. But scant playing time his freshman year led him to transfer to the University of Pennsylvania, where he became a legitimate star after sitting out his sophomore season.

After graduating from Penn, Zebrack returned to USC for an MBA and another shot at baseball there. In 2013 he hit .345 with 3 HRs, 15 doubles, a .422 on-base percentage and a .495 slugging percentage for the Trojans.

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