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Browsing Posts tagged Jason Knapp

Rookies, returnees, retirees and renegades

By Scott Barancik, editor

Spring Training has only just begun, but there’s plenty going on in the baseball world.

  • Tyler Kolodny didn’t give up on sports when the Baltimore Orioles released him after six seasons in the minors. He just picked a new one. Although the 6-foot-5-inch, 245-pound Kolodny had never played football at any level, he arranged a tryout last year at Pierce College, earned a starting spot at tight end, and ended up being named all-conference after scoring 5 touchdowns on 392 yards receiving. Now the 26-year-old is joining the University of Memphis team as a sophomore. “Tyler is an athletic savant,” Pierce offensive coordinator Jason Sabolic told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. “If he decides he’s gonna go be a downhill skier, he’ll be the best downhill skier and he’ll practice until he makes the Olympics.”
  • Former minor-league pitcher Jason Knapp is making a comeback. A one-time Top 100 prospect who’s been out of baseball since 2010 due to a pair of shoulder surgeries, the 23-year-old flame-thrower has signed a minor-league contract with the Texas Rangers. The 6-foot-5-inch Knapp struck out an average of 12 batters per 9 innings over his three minor-league seasons up through Single-A.
  • Ohio State recruit Brad Goldberg has only one minor-league season under his belt, but some people believe he could make the Majors as early as 2014. The 6-foot-4-inch Goldberg — who turned 24 on Friday — posted a 1.54 ERA last season, with 49 strikeouts over 35 innings of relief, and will begin this season as a minor-league starter. “Just a hard-nosed, mature kid, with a really good, aggressive approach to everything he did,” Chicago White Sox assistant scouting director Nick Hostetler recently told “I loved the power arm, the big strong body and the competitiveness.”
  • Ryan Lavarnway is learning how to play first base (see articles one, two). The 26-year-old has played nothing but catcher and DH since the Boston Red Sox drafted him in 2008, but according to MLB Trade rumors, “Boston is so deep at catcher at both the Triple-A and Major League levels, Lavarnway‘s only chance at continued playing time may be as a Triple-A first baseman.” The club reportedly hopes a change of pace will reignite his bat, which has suffered from a power outage.
  • Despite going 9-5 with the San Diego Padres last season, Jason Marquis remains a free agent. The key reason is uncertainty: Marquis underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow last July and will need much of the 2014 season to recover. At 35, whether he will be able to return to form is an open question.
  • Former Houston Astros and Colorado Rockies pitcher Jason Hirsh has opened the Jason Hirsh Pitching Academy in Denver, CO. In addition to coaching and training young hurlers, the 32-year-old still likes to play competitively. Hirsh started one game last year with the independent Amarillo Sox, and the independent Denver Browns claim to have signed the 6-foot-8-inch righthander for the 2014 season.
  • The Milwaukee Brewers are moving Ryan Braun from his traditional spot in left field to right field to make room for second-year player Khris Davis, who hit a remarkable 11 HRs and 10 doubles in just 137 at-bats last season. The 30-year-old Braun hasn’t played since his suspension, in July.

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JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Here are your Players of the Day for Wednesday (9/15/2010):

It was a productive day for the four MLB’ers who took the field yesterday. The group went a combined 7/14 with 2 HRs, 8 RBIs and 4 runs scored, and all four players’ teams won:

  • LF Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers went 2/5 with his 22nd HR and a game-tying, 9th-inning double in an 8-6 victory over the Houston Astros. It was the 4th straight two-hit game for Braun, who raised his average to .306 for the first time since June 29.
  • 2B Ian Kinsler of the Texas Rangers went 2/3 with a 2-run HR in an 11-7 victory over the Detroit Tigers. A year after joining baseball’s elite “30/30” club — he had 31 HRs and 31 stolen bases in 2009 — Kinsler has just 9 HRs and 13 stolen bases. But two lengthy stints on the disabled list in 2010 have shortened the 28-year-old’s season. Meanwhile, he has boosted his batting average from .253 in 2009 to .299 this season.
  • Rookie 3B Danny Valencia of the Minnesota Twins went 2/4 with a double and a sacrifice fly in a 9-3 win over the Chicago White Sox. The 25-year-old also saved a run by forcing out a runner at home plate. Valencia leads all A.L. rookies with a .333 batting average and is a top contender for Rookie of the Year.
  • Rookie 1B Ike Davis of the New York Mets went 1/3 with an RBI double in an 8-7, come-from-behind win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. A 1st-round pick (18th overall) in the 2008 amateur draft, Davis is batting .261 with 31 doubles, 2nd-most among N.L. rookies.

In minor-league championship games:

  • Playing in the DH role, 2B Jason Kipnis of the “AAA” Columbus Clippers went 1/4 with a double in a 4-0 triumph over the Durham Bulls. Columbus leads the five-game International League championship series 2-0.
  • CF James Rapoport of the “AAA” Memphis Redbirds (St. Louis Cardinals) went 1/4 with a sacrifice fly in an 11-7 loss to the Tacoma Rainiers. Tacoma leads the five-game Pacific Coast League championship series 2-0.
  • SP Jason Knapp of the “A” Lake County Captains (Cleveland Indians) struck out 6 batters over 3 and 1/3 innings and gave up 2 earned runs in a 9-6 win over the Clinton LumberKings. Lake County leads the five-game Midwest League championship series 1-0.



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.



No longer a “teenage” phenom

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Though the phrase “teenage pitching phenom” has a cool mystique to it, the fact is that SP Jason Knapp of the “A” Lake County Captains (Cleveland Indians) turns 20 today.

Happy birthday, Jason!



JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Here are your Players of the Day for Wednesday (8/25/2010):

In the Majors:

  • SP Jason Marquis of the Washington Nationals had the best outing of his injury-plagued season, pitching 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball in a 4-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs. The 32-year-old veteran gave up just 4 hits and 2 walks and received a modest ovation as he left the game. Marquis is 0-7 this season with an 8.79 ERA.
  • Rookie 3B Danny Valencia of the Minnesota Twins went 3/4 with an RBI groundout in a 4-3 loss to the Texas Rangers. A mid-season call-up from “AAA” ball, Valencia is batting .330, tops among AL rookies.
  • 1B Ike Davis of the New York Mets hit an RBI triple — his first three-bagger in the majors — in a 5-4 loss to the Florida Marlins. Davis is 2nd among N.L. rookies in RBIs (57) and 3rd in HRs (15) and runs scored (54).
  • LF Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers hit an RBI double and threw Manny Ramirez out at home plate in a 5-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The 2007 NL Rookie of the Year, Braun has hit .410 in his last 10 games and is batting .296 for the season.

In the minors, Jewish pitchers were unbeatable:

  • SP Eric Berger of the “AA” Akron Aeros (Cleveland Indians) gave up just one hit and 2 walks over 6 innings in an 8-1 win over the Bowie Baysox. Since being demoted from “AAA” ball earlier this season, the 24-year-old has a 5-5 record with a 5.68 ERA, 60 strikeouts and 43 walks.
  • SP Dylan Axelrod of the “A+” Winston-Salem Dash (Chicago White Sox) pitched 7 shutout innings in a 5-0 triumph over the Lynchburg Hillcats, striking out 8 batters and walking only one. Since being promoted to the Dash, Axelrod is 7-2 with a 2.03 ERA, 76 strikeouts and just 11 walks.
  • In his second game since being promoted to the “A” Lake County Captains (Cleveland Indians), SP Jason Knapp gave up one hit over 5 innings in a 3-1 victory over the Bowling Green Hot Rods. The 19-year-old phenom struck out 6 batters and walked none. He pitched 4 no-hit innings in his 8/20/2010 Captains debut.



JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — I’ve been reading up on SP Jason Knapp of the “A” Lake County Captains (Cleveland Indians), and it’s hard not to be impressed.

Although just 19 years old — he turns 20 later this month — the right-hander is a veteran of the ups and downs that come with being a professional athlete.

He was just 17 when the Philadelphia Phillies chose him in the second round (71st pick overall) of the 2008 amateur draft, a 6’5″ flamethrower out of Annandale’s North Hunterdon High School who turned down a scholarship offer from the University of North Carolina to go pro and was rewarded with a $590,000 signing bonus.

Knapp wasted little time impressing. In six starts and 31 innings pitched for the Phil’s rookie-league team, he went 3-1 with a 2.61 ERA, struck out 38 and gave up just one HR.

His 2009 season was a mixed bag. Although Knapp went 2-7 with a 4.01 ERA, he struck out 111 batters in 85 1/3 innings. The Cleveland Indians were sufficiently intrigued that they made him the lynchpin of a 6-player trade that sent Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee to the World Series-bound Phillies.

But Knapp, who already had spent time on the disabled list for bicep tendinitis, soon succumbed to shoulder fatigue and ended up undergoing surgery. Although Baseball America didn’t lose faith — it ranked him #64 on its 2010 list of the top 100 minor-league prospects, two spots behind Ike Davis — the injuries were worrisome.

Since returning to baseball this month with the Indians’ rookie-league team, Knapp has erased a lot of those concerns.

In 5 starts, he went 0-2 with a 1.46 ERA, giving up just 2 earned runs over 12 1/3 innings and striking out 18, or roughly half the batters he faced.

That earned him a promotion to the “A” Lake County Captains, where his Aug. 20 debut was nothing short of spectacular. Knapp pitched 4 no-hit innings and struck out 7 before the Captains decided to give his shoulder a rest.

Whether Knapp becomes the next Great Jewish Pitcher remains to be seen. The big leagues aren’t like high school, where he could toss fastballs nearly 90% of the time and get by. He continues to develop other pitches and has impressed the Indians’ management with his maturity and dedication.

According to an 8/20/2010 article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Knapp “is expected to make four to six starts for Lake county and then go to the Arizona Instructional League.” Depending how that goes, next season should see him in a “AA” Akron Aeros uniform, alongside 2B (and fellow Jew) Jason Kipnis.

Not bad for 19.

— Scott Barancik



JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Here are your Players of the Day for Friday (8/20/2010):

Four MLB players had two hits apiece…

  • C Brad Ausmus of the Los Angeles Dodgers had his best day at the plate since returning from the disabled list, going 2/3 with two singles in a 3-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. A 41-year-old enjoying his 18th MLB season, Ausmus is batting .209 in 43 at-bats.
  • 1B Ike Davis of the New York Mets went 2/4 with two singles and an RBI in a 7-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Davis, a rookie, is batting .243 and ranks 2nd on the Mets in home runs (15), RBIs (56) and strikeouts (106), and 4th in runs scored (51). He has struggled of late, batting just .143 over his past 10 games.
  • LF Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers went 2/4 with two walks and two RBIs in a 10-6 victory over the San Diego Padres. A 26-year-old in his fourth major-league season, Braun has hit .353 in his last 10 games and .292 for the season.
  • Rookie 3B Danny Valencia of the Minnesota Twins continues to impress, going 2/4 in a 7-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. A mid-season call-up from “AAA” ball, Valencia is batting .335, tops among AL rookies.

One MLB pitcher shined…

  • RP Craig Breslow of the Oakland A’s pitched a scoreless 9th inning to preserve a 5-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, striking out 2 of the three batters he faced. It was just the third career save for Breslow, who typically is used in a middle-relief role. The 30-year-old Yale Alum is 4-3 with a 3.13 ERA. He has 55 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings and has held opposing hitters to a .201 batting average.

And in the minors…

  • CF James Rapoport of the “AAA” Memphis Redbirds (St. Louis Cardinals) went 2/5 with 2 walks and 2 RBIs in a 6-3 win over the Salt Lake Bees. Rapoport, 25, is batting .264 with 2 HRs and 29 RBIs since being promoted to “AAA” earlier this season. He has 4 triples and 8 stolen bases for the Redbirds.
  • SP Jason Knapp of the “A” Lake County Captains (Cleveland Indians) pitched 4 innings of no-hit ball, struck out 7 batters and walked two in a 5-3 win over the Bowling Green Hot Rods.



POTD: Attack of the killer Jasons

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Here are your Players of the Day for Sunday (8/15/2010):

There are six Jewish players named Jason in minor-league baseball today. Three of them shined yesterday:

  • 2B Jason Kipnis of the “AA” Akron Aeros (Cleveland Indians) went 2/2 with a HR, a walk, 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored in a 7-0 drubbing of the New Britain Rock Cats. A second-round pick in the 2009 amateur draft, Kipnis is batting .339 with 9 HRs and 34 RBIs since being promoted to the Aeros mid-season.
  • RP Jason Markovitz of the “A” Clinton LumberKings (Seattle Mariners) pitched 2 innings of one-hit ball in a 6-3 win over the Beloit Snappers, striking out three and walking none. A 21-year-old who was drafted in the 13th round of the 2010 amateur draft, Markovitz has a 2.35 ERA over four games since being promoted to the LumberKings.
  • SP Jason Knapp of the rookie-league AZL Indians (Cleveland Indians) pitched 4 innings of one-hit ball in a 1-0 heartbreaker to the AZL Rangers. A 19-year-old from Westwood, N.J., Knapp gave up one unearned run and got the loss while lowering his ERA to 1.46.

In other minor-league news:

  • OF Ben Guez of the “AAA” Toledo Mud Hens (Detroit Tigers) went 1/3 with a home run, a walk and 3 RBIs in a 7-4 win over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Guez, 23, is batting .261 with 8 HRs and 27 RBIs  since being promoted to “AAA” ball mid-season. He is a teammate of RP Scot Drucker, a fellow Hebe.

Finally, over in the MLB:

  • B Danny Valencia of the Minnesota Twins went 3/4 with a double and turned a key double play in a 4-2 win over the Oakland A’s. The 25-year-old rookie boosted his batting average to .329.
  • LF Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers continued his hot streak at the plate, going 3/5 with a double and run scored in a 6-5 loss to the Colorado Rockies. Braun has hit .382 in his past 10 games but driven in just 2 runs.



POTD: Lorin, Knapp, Lemmerman

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Here are your Players of the Day for Thursday, August 5, 2010:

  • SP Brett Lorin of the “A” West Virginia Power (Pittsburgh Pirates) pitched 5 shutout innings and struck out two in a 5-1 win over the Delmarva Shorebirds. A 23-year-old righty who stands 6’7″ (see Monsters of the Mound), Lorin is 1-1 with a 3.93 ERA since being promoted to “A” ball earlier this season.
  • SP Jason Knapp, a 19-year-old “Monster of the Mound” with the rookie-league AZL Indians (Cleveland Indians), pitched three shutout innings in an 8-3 victory over the AZL Royals. In six innings pitched this season, Knapp has given up a total of 2 hits and no runs while striking out 11.
  • SS Jake Lemmerman of the rookie-league Ogden Raptors (Los Angeles Dodgers) went 4/4 with two doubles in a 3-2 triumph over the Casper Ghosts. Lemmerman had a hand in all three Raptors runs yesterday, driving in two and scoring one. The #1 Jewish player in the 2010 amateur draft, he is ranked fourth in the Rookie Pioneer League in batting average (.357), first in doubles (17), and sixth in on-base percentage (.416), slugging percentage (.554) and OPS (.970).


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