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By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Jewish Baseball News, the website that brings you “News and stats on Jews with bats,” has selected the top Jewish minor-leaguers of the 2012 season.

Here are the award winners:

Rookie of the year

Jack Marder, 2B/C/LF, High Desert Mavericks (Seattle Mariners)

Most improved

Mauricio Tabachnik, P, Guerreros de Oaxaca (no MLB affiliation)

Comeback player

Jeremy Bleich, P, Tampa Yankees (New York Yankees)

Best starter

No winner

Best reliever

Jeff Urlaub, Stockton Ports (Oakland Athletics)

Power hitter

Nate Freiman, 1B, San Antonio Missions (San Diego Padres); obtained by the Houston Astros on 12/6/2012.

Most valuable player

Robbie Widlansky, DH/OF/1B, Bowie Baysox (Baltimore Orioles); obtained by the Los Angeles Angels on 12/6/2012.

Additional information on the award winners and runners-up is provided below.

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Detailed information

Rookie of the Year

Jack Marder, 22, made his minor-league debut in 2011. Because he had just 71 at-bats that year, Jewish Baseball News considers 2012 his “rookie” season. And what a season it was. The versatile 22-year-old hit .360, including .410 with runners in scoring position, and reached base 42.5 percent of the time. Marder had only 278 at-bats but still drilled 24 doubles, 4 triples, and 10 HRs, drove in 56 runs, and stole 16 bases in 22 attempts.

Honorable mention (in alphabetical order): Sean Bierman (Tampa Bay Rays), Jeremy Schaffer (St. Louis Cardinals), Maxx Tissenbaum (San Diego Padres)

Most improved

Mauricio Tabachnik, 23, spent three years in the San Diego Padres’ farm system before being released in 2011. A native of Mexico, he took his right arm to the Mexican League that year but did not impress. In addition to compiling a 5.36 ERA, he gave up an average of two walks and/or hits per inning and walked more batters (41) than he struck out (24). But Tabachnik was a different player in 2012, finishing 4-2 with a 3.18 ERA, more strikeouts (38) than walks (27), and giving up an average of five fewer hits and/or walks per nine innings.

Honorable mention: Richard Bleier (Texas Rangers), Cameron Selik (Washington Nationals)

Comeback player

Jeremy Bleich, 25, was a starting pitcher with the Trenton Thunder (AA) when he seriously hurt his shoulder in May 2010. It would be another two years before the former 1st-round draft pick would pitch again, this time as a reliever. Bleich’s 2012 comeback was impressive. He went 2-1 with a career-best 3.86 ERA, struck out 24 while walking just eight, and held opposing batters to a .242 average.

Honorable mention: Ryan Kalish (Boston Red Sox)

Best reliever

Jeff Urlaub, 25, finished the 2012 season with a winning record (7-6) and a 3.18 ERA, despite playing for two teams with losing records. He produced some eye-popping stats along the way, striking out a combined 58 batters while walking only 9, holding opposing teams to a .197 batting average, and allowing just 4 HRs in 65 innings.

Honorable mention: Corey Baker (St. Louis Cardinals), David Colvin (Seattle Mariners), Ian Kadish (Toronto Blue Jays)

Power hitter

Nate Freiman, 25, doesn’t just look imposing at the plate. The 6-foot-7-inch terrorized Texas League pitchers in 2012 with a career-high 24 HRs and a league-leading 105 RBIs. He didn’t sacrifice discipline, turning in a tidy .298 batting average and .370 on-base percentage. Later, Freiman brought his big bat to the World Baseball Classic, where he launched 4 HRs in 12 at-bats for Team Israel.

Honorable mention: Cody Decker (San Diego Padres)

Most valuable player

Robbie Widlansky, 28, helped the Bowie Baysox (AA) earn a playoff berth with the best performance of his 6-year professional career. He ranked among Eastern League leaders with a .316 batting average (3rd place), 83 RBIs (3rd), 35 doubles (2nd/tie), and a .404 on-base percentage (2nd). Widlansky also stole 11 bases, and his walk-to-strikeout ratio (64 to 74) was a career high.

Honorable mention: Joc Pederson (Los Angeles Dodgers), Nate Freiman (San Diego Padres)

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June recruits push current pro total to 65

By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Major League teams drafted at least 13 Jewish amateurs in June and signed at least two undrafted players. Since then at least 10 have signed, pushing the current number of MOTs in the majors and minors to 65.

So who are the Fab 15? A complete list is included in the table below. Here are some other facts about them:

  • Nine of the 15 were selected out of college, and the remaining six from high school.
  • Four of the 15 decided to forego the pros temporarily in order to attend college. The only draftee we’re uncertain about is Macalester College alum Mitch Glasser. In a great interview with Rabbi Jeremy Fine, Glasser said he expected to sign with the White Sox and join the franchise in Spring 2013, but his status remains unconfirmed.
  • Baseball America ranked recent high-school grads Alex Bregman and Rhett Wiseman among the top 150 amateurs available in the 2012 draft but correctly predicted that both would choose to attend college now. The publication said scouts “love (Wiseman’s) athleticism and raw tools,” and it pointed out that Bregman broke New Mexico’s single-season high-school home run record last year with 18.
  • One recruit, Tampa Bay Rays prospect Sean Bierman, already has been promoted to Class A. Given the Rays’ reputation for finding bargains, it’s perhaps no surprise that Bierman received just $5,000 for signing.
  • Max Fried, an 18-year-old pitcher from Van Nuys, Calif., was the 7th overall pick in the June 2012 draft, making him the fifth-highest Jewish draft pick of all time. He also earned a tidy $3-million bonus. Baseball America calls him “cerebral and determined,” as well as a possible No. 1 or No. 2 starter in the majors.
 
Name (Pos)
DRAFTED BY (Round/Overall)
SIGNED?
CURRENT TEAM
1Max Fried (P)San Diego Padres (1/7)YesAZL Padres (Rookie)
2Jon Moscot (P)Cincinnati Reds (4/142)YesBillings Mustangs (Rookie)
3Sean Bierman (P)Tampa Bay Rays (10/332)YesBowling Green Hot Rods (A)
4Maxx Tissenbaum (2B)San Diego Padres (11/345)YesEugene Emeralds (A-short season)
5Eric Jaffe (P)Chicago White Sox (11/351)YesBristol White Sox (Rookie)
6Sam Kimmel (C)Baltimore Orioles (18/552)YesAberdeen Iron Birds (A-short season)
7Jeremy Schaffer (1B)St. Louis Cardinals (18/570)YesJohnson City Cardinals (Rookie)
8Jake Drossner (P)Chicago Cubs (23/704)NoUniv. of Maryland
9Rhett Wiseman (OF)Chicago Cubs (25/764)NoVanderbilt
10Alex Bregman (2B)Boston Red Sox (29/901)NoLSU
11Jacob Kapstein (P)Detroit Tigers (35/1084)YesGCL Tigers (Rookie)
12Max Ungar (C)Washington Nat'ls (36/1104)NoDenison Univ.
13Mitch Glasser (2B)Chicago White Sox (39/1191)UnknN.A.
14Jacob Booden (P)St. Louis Cardinals (undrafted)YesJohnson City Cardinals (Rookie)
15Tim Remes (C)Detroit Tigers (undrafted)YesConnecticut Tigers (A-short season)
Source: Jewish Baseball News, Jewish Sports Review, and reader input

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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 (8/13/2012)

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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Four more Jewish draftees identified

By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

We recently told you about two athletes who were selected in this year’s MLB amateur draft. The San Diego Padres picked up 18-year-old pitcher Max Fried in the 1st round (7th pick overall) and agreed earlier this month to pay him a $3-million bonus. The Chicago White Sox chose hometown boy Mitch Glasser in the 39th round (1,191st overall).

Though it’ll likely be weeks before all of the Jewish draftees have been identified, we are aware of at least four more. They are:

  • Jon Moscot, drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 4th round (142nd pick overall), signed for a $317,800 bonus. A 20-year-old pitcher out of Pepperdine University, the 6’4″ California native has been assigned to the rookie-league AZL Reds. Baseball America says he has a “chance to be a back-of-the-rotation starter in the big leagues.”
  • Jacob Kapstein, drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 35th round (1,084th overall), is an 18-year-old catcher out of Little Compton, R.I. He comes from a baseball family. His uncle Jeremy Kapstein is senior advisor for baseball projects for the Boston Red Sox. His brother Zach was drafted by the Red Sox in 2010 and currently plays for the Lowell Spinners (A-short season). Jacob has been assigned to the rookie-league GCL Tigers, where he is 1-for-2 with a double.
  • Maxx Tissenbaum, drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 11th round (345th pick oveall), signed for a $100,000 bonus. A 20-year-old Toronto native, he recently completed his junior year at SUNY-Stony Brook and helped the Seawolves reach the 2012 College World Series.
  • Jeremy Schaffer, drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 18th round (570th pick overall), recently switched from catcher to first base. A 22-year-old out of Tulane Univesity, he is assigned to the rookie-league Johnson City Cardinals, where he is batting .176 with 1 HR and 5 RBIs in 34 at-bats.

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