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Shocker! Kevin Youkilis to play in Japan

By Scott Barancik, editor

Free agent Kevin Youkilis has covered a lot of ground the past two seasons, playing for A.L. teams in Boston, Chicago, and New York.

This time, he’s moving a little farther afield: Japan. The three-time All-Star, 34, has signed a one-year, $4-million deal to play for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, the defending Japanese champion.

“He’s looking at this as a terrific life experience for his family,” agent Joe Bick said. Youkilis‘ wife and two children, ages 7 and 1, will spend the season with him.

Youkilis — who played just 28 games for the New York Yankees in an injury-plagued 2013 season — will be at least the fifth Jewish major leaguer to play in Japan. He is preceded by Micah Franklin, Gabe Kapler, Richie Scheinblum and Josh Whitesell.

MLBTradeRumors.com reported that Youkilis had “received interest from eight or nine Major League clubs” but had been in talks with the Golden Eagles for several weeks.

Rakuten ace Masahiro Tanaka, who recorded an astounding 24-0 record in 2013, has been the subject of fevered speculation recently in the States. A number of Major League clubs have expressed interest in signing him, but the Golden Eagles have yet to decide whether to allow it.

“Rakuten” is an Internet shopping company. The baseball team is located in Sendai, in the Tohoku region of Japan. The Golden Eagles’ stadium was damaged by an earthquake and tsunami there in 2011.

Like Youkilis, Tampa Bay Rays free agent Sam Fuld reportedly has received interest from Japanese teams about the 2014 season.

Kapler, who overlapped with Youkilis in Boston from 2004-06 and spent part of the 2005 season playing for the Yomiuri Giants, tweeted Friday that he “had a good talk with Youkilis re Japan. He’s excited about something completely new in his life. Amazing cultural opportunity for Yoooouuk!”

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By Scott Barancik, editor

Ah, the off-season. That time of year when baseball fans and writers have little else to do but speculate about which players will move, and where. Ian Kinsler made a splash recently when the Texas Rangers traded him to the Milwaukee Brewers for slugger Prince Fielder. Who’s next?

We at Jewish Baseball News profess no inside information or special insight on the topic. Following is a brief update on the latest rumors.

  • Scott Feldman, a 30-year-old starter who split 2013 between the Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles, is a free agent. At least one reputable website, mlbtraderumors.com, thinks the O’s will resign him. Feldman went a combined 12-12 last season with two completes games, a shutout, and a 3.86 ERA .
  • Kevin Youkilis, a 34-year-old infielder who played just 28 games for the New York Yankees last season due to injury, is a free agent. Where he’ll end up is unknown. Youkilis‘ agent told the New York Daily News that he’s “100 percent healthy” after recovering from back surgery. MLB.com’s Ian Browne says it’s unlikely he’ll return to Boston, where Youk spent the first nine years of his MLB career.
  • Jason Marquis, a 35-year-old starter who underwent Tommy John elbow surgery this season and will begin 2014 on the disabled list, is a free agent. Given uncertainty over his health, it’s possible Marquis will be offered a minor-league contract rather than a major-league one.
  • Sam Fuld, a 32-year-old outfielder with the Tampa Bay Rays, is arbitration eligible. On December 2, Fuld will find out whether the Tampa Bay Rays are going to tender a contract or set him loose as a free agent.
  • Kevin Pillar, a 24-year-old who just completed his rookie season with the Toronto Blue Jays, is not a free agent. But as Pillar departed recently to play in the Dominican Winter League, at least one observer wondered whether the Jays might be showcasing him for a possible trade.

  • Ike Davis, a 26-year-old first baseman with the New York Mets, is not a free agent. But general manager Sandy Alderson says either Davis or fellow first baseman Lucas Duda is likely to be dealt before Spring Training begins. Davis, for his part, says he wants to stay in New York.

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By Scott Barancik, editor

According to research by our friend Ron Kaplan at his excellent Kaplan’s Korner blog, Boston reliever Craig Breslow will be just the 24th Jewish player to appear in a World Series when he appears in the upcoming Red Sox-Cardinals finale.

The New Haven, Conn., native is expected to be a key piece of Boston’s pitching puzzle. Breslow finished the 2013 regular season with a 5-2 record and a 1.81 ERA across 61 games.

The other active Major Leaguers with World Series experience are Scott Feldman (Texas Rangers, 2011), Ian Kinsler (Texas Rangers, 2010-11), Kevin Youkilis (Boston Red Sox, 2007), and Jason Marquis (St. Louis Cardinals, 2004).

Two Jewish players have been named MVP of a World Series. Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Larry Sherry had a hand in all four Dodger victories over the Chicago White Sox in 1959, earning two wins and two saves on the strength of a 0.71 ERA. Just 23 at the time, he also went a nifty 2-for-4 at the plate. Sherry’s teammate, a kid named Koufax, pitched excellently in the series but lost his only decision, a 1-0 squeaker to the Sox. Still, Sandy went on to be named World Series MVP twice, in 1963 and 1965.

Another Dodger, Steve Yeager, was named co-MVP of the 1981 World Series. He converted to Judaism after his playing career ended.

See Kaplan’s article for a complete list of World Series veterans and how each one performed.

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By Scott Barancik, editor

For some Jewish baseball fans, Yom Kippur isn’t just the holiest day on the calendar. It’s also a litmus test of a ballplayer’s commitment to Judaism.

That’s not so true here at Jewish Baseball News, a secular website that holds no grudge against a ballplayer for choosing to swing a bat during the High Holidays (although we take pride when a player like Sandy Koufax or Shawn Green elects to pray rather than play).

Some players find ways to bridge the gap. Consider reliever Craig Breslow, who told Boston’s Jewish Journal:

“In previous years, I have participated in online Passover seders and High Holy Day services, and have fasted as best as I could, even on game days. ‘Typically, I try to observe the holidays in a way that is meaningful to me and indicative of my commitment to Judaism, but also honors and acknowledges the commitment that I have made to my teammates.”

So without further ado, here’s a breakdown of who played last night, and who didn’t.

Played

Six Jewish major leaguers played last night, and five of them emerged victorious:

  1. Nate Freiman, Oakland A’s.Went 1-for-2. Result: defeated the Texas Rangers.
  2. Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers. Went 0-for-2 but drew three walks, drove in a run, and scored 2 more. Result: lost to the Oakland A’s.
  3. Danny Valencia, Baltimore Orioles. Went 1-for-4 with an RBI single. Result: defeated the Toronto Blue Jays.
  4. Craig Breslow, Boston Red Sox. Of the three batters faced, struck out one, walked another, and gave up a two-run double, leading to a blown save. Result: defeated the New York Yankees.
  5. Josh Zeid, Houston Astros. Pitched a scoreless 8th inning, giving up a walk and a hit but no runs, and earning a hold. Result: defeated the Los Angeles Angels.
  6. Sam Fuld, Tampa Bay Rays. Was brought in as a defensive replacement in the 9th inning. Result: defeated the Minnesota Twins.

Did not play, for one reason or another 

Four major leaguers didn’t play last night even though their teams did, and three of the teams won anyway. With the exception of Baltimore’s Scott Feldman, Baylawsuits doesn’t know whether it was the players’ decision not to play or their managers’.

  1. Scott Feldman, Baltimore Orioles. A member of the team’s starting rotation, he’d pitched 2 days earlier. Result: defeated the Toronto Blue Jays.
  2. Ryan Lavarnway, Boston Red Sox. A back-up catcher, he hasn’t played since Sept. 7. Result: defeated the New York Yankees.
  3. Kevin Pillar, Toronto Blue Jays. A back-up outfielder, he’d started seven of his team’s past 10 games and played part of one other. Result: lost to the Baltimore Orioles.
  4. Josh Satin, New York Mets. A versatile infielder, he’d started six of his team’s past 10 games and played parts of two others. Result: defeated the Miami Marlins.

Unable to play

Four players were on the disabled list, and one was on suspension for violating baseball’s anti-drug policy.

  1. Ike Davis, New York Mets. On disabled list.
  2. Ryan Kalish, Boston Red Sox. On disabled list.
  3. Jason Marquis, San Diego Padres. On disabled list.
  4. Kevin Youkilis, New York Yankees. On disabled list.
  5. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers. Suspended.

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By Scott Barancik, editor

We try to give you the news in bite-sized pieces via Facebook, Twitter, and our new ‘Bunts’ column, shown on the top-left corner of the Jewish Baseball News home page. But sometimes there’s more than a mouthful of news to deliver. Today is one of those days.

So what’s new?

Kinsler's crazy slide (buzzfeed.com)

Kinsler’s crazy slide (buzzfeed.com)

  • Ian Kinsler is back. Out since May 16 due to a rib-cage injury, the three-time All-star went 0-for-4 with a walk Saturday (6/15/2013) as the Texas Rangers lost to the Toronto Blue Jays 6-1. Kinsler initially was hurt when a ball struck his chest while he was sliding into a base, and the pain intensified when he was hit with a pitch. Or at least that’s the official story. Here is a Buzzfeed.com video of Kinsler in what it describes as “the worst baseball slide of the season, by a mile” — followed by possibly the best smile by a player in an embarrassing situation.
  • Even as Kinsler was returning from the disabled list, Ryan Braun and Kevin Youkilis were going on it. Milwaukee’s Braun is out with an inflamed nerve in his right hand, while the Yankees’ Youkilis was hobbled with a lumbar strain. Get well soon, boys.
  • Scott Feldman was dominant Saturday in the Chicago Cubs’ 5-2 win over the New York Mets (see video). In a 7-inning performance, Feldman gave up just one run on two hits and a walk while striking out six. He also helped himself with this two-run single. Feldman is 6-5 this season with one complete game and a 3.05 ERA; he’s struck out 60 batters and walked only 21 over 79.2 innings.
  • Feldman’s hit was no fluke. As you can see in this table, the 6-foot-7-inch righty leads all MLB pitchers this season with 8 RBIs, thanks in part to a HR and two doubles.
  • Also triumphant Saturday (6/15/2013) was San Diego’s Jason Marquis, who raised his season record to 9-2 with a 6-4 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks (see video). Marquis‘ nine wins are tied for second most in the National League.
  • Congratulations to St. Louis Cardinals prospect Corey Baker, who was promoted to Double-A on Friday (6/15/2013). Baker — who was selected in the 49th round of the 2011 amateur draft — started the 2013 season at Single-A, moved up to A-Advanced, and spent only four games there before being picked up by the Springfield Cardinals (AA). Even after being roughed-up in his first start with Springfield, Baker’s overall ERA this season is 2.66 with a 1-2 record, 2 saves, 37 strikeouts, and only seven walks across 44 innings.
  • Los Angeles Angels prospect Zach Borenstein continues to pummel International League (A-advanced) pitchers. In a breakout third pro season, the left-handed hitter ranks first in total bases (146), second in HRs (16/tie) and slugging percentage (.613), third in RBIs (50/tie), and fourth in batting average (.315) and on-base plus slugging (.970). And Borenstein shows no signs of slowing down: in the past 10 games, he’s hit .400 with 2 HRs, 2 doubles, 2 triples, 2 walks, and 9 RBIs.

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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

 
TEAM
G
AB
H
HR
RBI
AVG
OBP
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

 
 
TEAM
W
L
ERA
G
IP
H
BB
SO
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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Pending physical, Youk will be a Yank

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By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Free agent Kevin Youkilis, who struck fear and loathing in the hearts of New Yorkers during an All-Star career with the Boston Red Sox, is joining the Yankees.

Sports Illustrated and other news outlets reported this evening (12/11/2012) that the 33-year-old infielder has accepted a one-year, $12-million contract. The deal is contingent on the oft-injured Youkilis passing a physical.

Youk is expected to fill the third-base hole left by Alex Rodriguez, who’s likely to miss up to half the season due to hip surgery. He’s the 7th member of the Boston’s 2004 World Series-winning roster to join the Yankees, SI said.

Youk entertained a two-year, $18-million competing offer from the Cleveland Indians. He spent part of the 2012 season with the Chicago White Sox.

In other baseball news, the Los Angeles Angels picked up minor-league prospect Robbie Widlansky from the Baltimore Orioles, who left the 28-year-old OF/1B unprotected in the Triple-A phase of last week’s Rule 5 draft. Widlansky had a terrific 2012 season with the O’s Double-A club, hitting .316 with 8 HRs, 83 RBIs, 35 doubles, 11 stolen bases in 14 tries, and a .404 on-base percentage. He likely will begin the 2012 season with the Salt Lake Bees (AAA).

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By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

It’s been a busy off-season so far for Jewish ballplayers.

The Boston Red Sox recently dealt 3B Danny Valencia to the Baltimore Orioles for cash. Though the 28-year-old Valencia had a tough 2012 season with the Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, and their respective AAA teams, the Orioles reportedly are interested in using him against left-handed pitchers, against whom he has a career MLB batting average of .316.

The Chicago Cubs signed free agent Scott Feldman to a one-year, $6-million deal. Chicago plans to add the 6-foot-6-inch, 29-year-old southpaw to its starting rotation. Feldman had been with the Texas Rangers since the franchise drafted him in 2005.

Earlier this week, the New York Yankees offered 3B Kevin Youkilis a one-year, $12-million contract. Acquired midseason in 2012 by the Chicago White Sox, the 33-year-old infielder spent years as a Yankee killer while starring for the rival Boston Red Sox. No word yet on whether he will accept the offer.

The Colorado Rockies stole pitching prospect Danny Rosenbaum from the Washington Nationals, which had left him unprotected in the Rule 5 draft. The third overall pick in that draft, Rosenbaum spent 2012 with the Harrisburg Senators (AA), where he went a disappointing 8-10 with a 3.94 ERA. The 25-year-old lefty had posted ERAs of 1.95, 2.25, and 2.52 from 2009-11.

Also taken in the Rule 5 draft was former San Diego Padres prospect Nate Freiman, A 6’7″ slugger who led the Texas League in RBIs in 2012 and starred for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers, Freiman was nabbed by the Houston Astros.

Under draft rules, the Rockies and Astros must keep Rosenbaum and Freiman on their respective Major League rosters for the entire 2013 season. If they don’t, they must offer the players back to their former teams for a trivial cash sum. Thus there’s a decent chance both players will make their MLB debut sometime in 2013.

Jewish Baseball News wishes to thank contributing writer Zev Ben Avigdor and TheGreatRabbino.com‘s Jeremy Fine for keeping us posted on player transactions.

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Jewish HR records fell in 2012

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By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

If it seemed like Jewish ballplayers were smacking a lot of home runs this season, it wasn’t your imagination. Several records were broken or matched in 2012.

Jewish major leaguers (excluding pitchers) hit a combined 116 HRs, topping the prior record of 109 in 2011. Home-run hitting is a growing trend among Jewish players, with seven of the 10 biggest one-year totals coming since 2000 (see table).

Most Jewish HRs, by year*

Year
Total HRs
Biggest contributor
2012116Ryan Braun (41)
2011109Ryan Braun (33)
1999102Shawn green (42)
2009101Ryan Braun (32)
200898Ryan Braun (37)
193887Hank Greenberg (40)
201085Ryan Braun (25)
200783Ryan Braun (34)
195377Al Rosen (43)
200173Shawn Green (49)
* Excluding Jewish pitchers
Source: JewishBaseballNews.com

Two key figures behind this year’s home-run barrage were Milwaukee Brewers LF Ryan Braun, who smashed a career-high 41 HRs, and New York Mets 1B Ike Davis, who hit a career-high 32. Kevin Youkilis, who split the season between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago White Sox, hit 19, and Texas Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler followed with 18.

Braun’s 41 dingers made him the No. 1 home-run hitter among National League players in 2012. The last time a Jewish ballplayer led a league in HRs was 1953, when Cleveland Indians 3B Al Rosen hit 43 to lead the A.L.

Davis hit 19 HRs as a rookie in 2010 and spent much of the 2011 season on the disabled list. By the 2012 All-Star break he had 12 HRs, then pounded 20 more during the rest of the season to rank No. 5 among N.L. hitters (tie).

Braun and Davis made quite a pair. The only other time two Jewish players have hit at least 40 and 30 HRs, respectively, in a single MLB season was 2002, when Los Angeles Dodgers RF Shawn Green crushed 42, and Philadelphia Phillies C Mike Lieberthal hit 31. Braun (37) and Youkilis (29) came close in 2009, as did Al Rosen (37) and Boston Braves LF Sid Gordon (27) in 1950.

Braun’s 41 HRs launched him into a tie with Sid Gordon for No. 3 on the all-time Jewish HR leaders list, with 202. Detroit Tigers 1B Hank Greenberg leads the list with 331, followed closely by Shawn Green with 328.

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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.
Player
Pos.
Age
Hometown
Minor-league team
Parent 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 (8/27/2012)

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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Suddenly, it’s raining Jews in Boston

By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Two days ago, there were no Jews on the Boston Red Sox’s roster.

Ryan Kalish had been sent back to AAA Pawtucket on July 8 after a mediocre three-week stint. Beloved infielder Kevin Youkilis had been traded to the Chicago White Sox on June 25. There was no simche at Fenway.

Suddenly, though, it’s raining Jews in Boston.

Tuesday (7/31/2012) was a twofer. The Red Sox recalled Kalish after outfielder Ryan Sweeney landed himself on the disabled list by punching a door. They also acquired reliever Craig Breslow in a last-minute trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

And today they called up catcher Ryan Lavarnway, the club’s No. 3 prospect, to fill the roster hole left by injured outfielder Daniel Nava.

No telling how long Kalish and Lavarnway will stay, of course. But it’s not often you see a team’s 25-man roster add three Jewish players in two days.

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Good news Monday (7/30/2012)

By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

It’s not easy to muster a smile on Mondays, but here are a few good reasons:

  • There are only three possible explanations for pitcher Scott Feldman‘s recent dominance: a pact with the devil, alien body-snatching, or performance-enhancing drugs. Through July 4, the Texas Ranger had a 2-6 record and a 6.11 ERA, while opposing batters were hitting him at a .285 clip. But the 29-year-old Hawaii native has strangled his past 3 opponents, giving up just one earned run in 17 innings (an ERA of 0.53) while striking out 10 and walking zero. The performance has boosted his record to 5-6 and slimmed his ERA to 4.76.
  • Sam Fuld is back. After spending the first three months of the season on the disabled list, the scrappy Tampa Bay Rays outfielder returned to the field with a vengeance last week (7/24/2012). In five games since returning, Fuld went 6-for-16 (.375) with 2 doubles and 2 RBIs, and the slumping Rays won three of five.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Joc Pederson is surging. A 20-year-old outfielder with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A-advanced), Pederson has hit .333 in his past 10 games, including 3 HRs, 11 RBIs, 3 stolen bases, and a .429 on-base percentage. The Palo Alto, Calif. native was an 11th-round pick out of high school in the 2010 draft. At the beginning of this season, MLB.com ranked him the Dodgers’ No. 4 prospect.
  • Baltimore Orioles prospect Robbie Widlansky is among Eastern League leaders in several offensive categories. A 27-year-old outfielder/DH with the Bowie Baysox (AA), Widlansky is hitting.301 with 6 HRs, 62 RBIs (3rd highest), 9 stolen bases, and an on-base percentage of .396 (4th).
  • Think the Chicago White Sox are happy they acquired 3B Kevin Youkilis? Check out this MLB.com compilation video titled “The Youk Effect.”
  • One of Israel’s few home-grown baseball stars is a 6’4″, 33-year-old pitcher whose day job is booking musicians for the City Winery in New York City. The Wall Street Journal has a terrific profile on Shlomo Lipetz and the challenges  he faced learning baseball in Tel Aviv after relatives first exposed him to the sport in a 1986 visit to Shea Stadium.
  • Ike Davis had a 3-HR game for the first time in his career on Saturday (7/28/2012). The Arizona native homered in his first three at-bats (see video) and added a single to go 4-for-4 in a 6-3 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix. After an anemic start this season, Davis is tied for 6th place in the National League with 20 HRs, is third among N.L. first basemen with 60 RBIs, and has raised his batting average to .213. He has six HRs in his past 10 games.
  • According to our friends at Jewish Sports Review, a total of 13 Jewish players were selected in the 2012 amateur draft. We’ll publish the full list, along with short bios, very soon.
  • Adam Greenberg is vying for a spot on on Team Israel, which will be competing in a qualifying round for the World Baseball Classic in September. The 31-year-old former Chicago Cub is best known, unfortunately, for getting hit in the head by pitcher Valerio de los Santos during his first and only Major League at-bat, in 2005. Greenberg’s career was derailed by the resulting concussion and vertigo. But the 5’9″ fireplug has grit. He singled off de los Santos when he next faced him, in a 2011 independent-league game, and you can see both at-bats in this video profile by ESPN. Good luck, Adam!
  • Nearly 3 months after being demoted to AAA, Danny Valencia has returned to the Minnesota Twins. The 27-year-old third baseman immediately chipped in with an RBI double and two runs scored in a 12-5 win over the Cleveland Indians on Saturday (7/28/2012). His stay is likely to be short, as regular 3B Trevor Plouffe is suffering only from a bruised right thumb.
  • Congratulations to U.S. women’s gymnastics captain Aly Raisman, a tribe member who advanced to the Olympics’ all-around finals with a terrific floor exercise she performed to the tune of Hava Nagila on Sunday night (7/29/2012).

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

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Good new Monday (7/16/2012)

By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Boker tov, fellow Hebrews! Here’s some good news for your Monday morn:

  • Seattle Mariners prospect Jack Marder was out most of June with injuries, but you wouldn’t know it from his first 3 games back, when he went 7-for-15 with 2 HRs, a double, and 5 RBIs (July 6-8). A 22-year-old catcher with the High Desert Mavericks (A-advanced), Marder is hitting .360 this season with 8 HRs, 15 doubles, and 40 RBIs in just 186 at-bats. By the way, Jack isn’t the only catcher in his family. Sister Sam Marder, Ohio State’s all-time HR leader, plays professional fastpitch softball with the Akron Racers. Check out this article about the siblings.
  • There’s no sadder story in baseball history than that of Adam Greenberg, which is why the latest news about New Haven, Conn., native is so great. Greenberg, you may recall, had been called up by the Chicago Cubs in 2005 and was enjoying his first Major League at-bat when Florida Marlins P Valeria de los Santos accidentally beaned him, ending his MLB career and giving him a dubious footnote in the record books. But the still-young Greenberg — he’s only 31 — reportedly has begun training to play for Team Israel in the upcoming World Baseball Classic qualifying round, in September. Can’t wait to see you there, Adam.
  • Sure, Ike Davis has struggled at the plate this season, with his batting average only recently edging up above .200. But there’s a good reason the New York Mets continue to use him as a starter: run production. Davis’ 50 RBIs place him among the top 20 in the National League and have him 0n pace to crush his career high of 71. He also has 13 HRs, compared with a career-high of 19. Now if he can just start walking and singling a little more, and striking out a little less…
  • The New York Mets reportedly are interested in Boston Red Sox backup catcher Kelly Shoppach. If Shoppach is traded, hard-hitting prospect Ryan Lavarnway, who had a cup of coffee with the Red Sox last year, will likely be called-up for good.
  • One of the greatest home-run duos in Jewish baseball history is together again. San Diego Padres slugger Cody Decker is back with the San Antonio Missions (AA) and teammate Nate Freiman after a brief stint in AAA, and the pair is on fire. Decker, who hit a grand slam last week (7/12/2012) and homered in the same game as Freiman for at least the second time this year (7/9/2012), has 22 HRs overall, including an astounding 18 in just 186 at-bats with the Missions. Freiman has 20 HRs, leads the Texas League with 75 RBIs, and was profiled in this recent article.
  • The Tampa Bay Rays seem eager to get Sam Fuld back on the field. Despite a mediocre rehab assignment in which he went 2-for-13 with the Charlotte Stone Crabs, Fuld has been promoted to the Durham Bulls (AAA).
  • Max Fried, an 18-year-old lefty who was the No. 7 overall pick of the San Diego Padres in last month’s amateur draft, has yet to give up a run in three appearances with the rookie-league AZL Padres. According to jewishsportsreview.com, only four Jews have been drafted higher in baseball history: Ron Blomberg (No. 1 in 1967), Mike Lieberthal (No. 3 in 1990), Justin Wayne (No. 5 in 2000), and Ryan Braun (No. 5 in 2005).
  • Speaking of Ryan Braun, the reigning N.L. MVP is leading his league in HRs with 26 — that’s one in every 12.2 at-bats — and is on pace to crush his career high of 37 (2008). He’s also among league leaders with 64 RBIs (2nd/tie), a .640 slugging percentage (2nd), nine hit-by-pitches (2nd), a .401 on-base percentage (5th), .313 batting average (8th), and 16 stolen bases (10th/tie). All without the aid of performance-enhancing drugs, mind you.
  • Kevin Youkilis returns to Fenway Park today (7/16/2012) for the first time since the Red Sox traded him. The Chicago White Sox are mighty happy with Youk so far. In 61 at-bats, the 33-year-old 1B/3B is hitting .295 with 3 HRs, 15 RBIs, and a .397 on-base percentage. Read Kevin’s love letter to Boston fans here.

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

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Good news Monday (7/9/2012)

By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Our cup runneth over with good news this week:

  • Does Kevin Youkilis have a flair for the dramatic, or what? The newly-minted Chicago White Sox third baseman homered in his first at-bat at U.S. Cellular Field (see video) and finished the day 3-for-6 with 4 RBIs. He’s 9-for-23 (.391) during the current homestand, with 3 HRs and 10 RBIs.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Joc Pederson must have eaten his Wheaties on July 1. The 20-year-old outfielder with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A-advanced) homered three times in a 17-4 rout of the High Desert Mavericks to tie a franchise record. Quite a feat, especially since he’d managed just 3 HRs in his first 52 games.
  • Baltimore Orioles prospect Robbie Widlansky, who will be participating in the upcoming Eastern League (AA) All-Star game, was named Player of the Month in June after hitting .407 with 10 doubles, 2 HRs, 21 RBIs, and an OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging) of 1.116. (Read our interview with Widlansky here.)
  • Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Jake Lemmerman tweeted this photo of himself and hero Tommy Lasorda last week.
  • Sorry to hear that Los Angeles Dodgers CF Matt Kemp injured his hamstring, but the upside is that Milwaukee Brewers LF Ryan Braun will be an N.L. starter in this week’s All-Star Game rather than a reserve player.
  • Jewish Baseball News contributor Zev Ben Avigdor snapped this photo (below) at a Binghamton Mets (AA) home game against the Altoona Curve on July 3. Guess who threw out the first ball that night? Cleveland Cavaliers F Omri Casspri, the first Israeli to play in the NBA.
  • Fans unfurl an Israel flag at a Binghamton Mets game.

  • Max Ungar, an 18-year-old catcher selected by the Washington Nationals in the 36th round of this year’s amateur draft, is going to attend Denison University instead. Ungar confirmed the decision in a tweet to Jewish Baseball News. “I chose college over the pro’s,” he wrote. “A classic ‘Moneyball’ move.”
  • What’s it’s like to be a newly-drafted rookie about to begin your first minor-league assignment? Maxx Tissenbaum, an 11th-round draft pick of the San Diego Padres, tells you all about it in his blog The Padres Life.
  • Boston Red Sox prospect Ryan Lavarnway will be the starting catcher for the International League (AAA) in its annual All-Star game against the Pacific Coast League (AAA).
  • The bad news is that Sam Fuld went 0-for-3 in an appearance July 7 with the Charlotte Stone Crabs (A-advanced). The good news is that it marked the first game he’s played since undergoing wrist surgery. The Tampa Bay Rays outfielder is expected to complete a 20-game rehab stint before returning to St. Petersburg.
  • The Oakland A’s have promoted reliever Jeff Urlaub to the Stockton Ports (A-advanced). Can you blame them? In 25 appearances with the Burlington Bees (A) this season, the 25-year-old stringbean — he’s 6’2″, 160 lbs. — assembled a 5-4 record with 3 saves, a 2.60 ERA, 27 strikeouts and only one walk. And Urlaub continues to impress. Four games into his new gig with Stockton, he’s given up one hit, no walks, and no runs while holding opposing hitters to a .059 batting average.
  • Friday night (July 6) was a memorable one for Los Angeles Angels prospect Zach Borenstein, who went 4-for-5 with two doubles, two HRs, and 6 RBIs. His second HR of the night, struck in the bottom of the 9th inning, propelled the Cedar Rapids Kernels (A) to a 12-11, walk-off win over the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

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

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Good news Monday (7/2/2012)

By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Get ready to kvell, brothers and sisters. It’s Good news Monday!

  • San Diego Padres prospect Nate Freiman won the Texas League Home Run Derby last Thursday (6/28/2012). A 6’7″ first baseman with the San Antonio Missions (AA), Freiman’s first swing of the contest reportedly was “the sweetest.” He launched a shot that not only struck the scoreboard but hit the “i” in “Freiman.”
  • Talk about cleaning up your own mess. When Augusta GreenJackets (A) reliever Andrew Berger entered Friday’s (6/29/2012) game against the Savannah Sand Gnats in the 7th inning, he promptly gave up a single and double. But the 24-year-old San Francisco Giants prospect didn’t lose hope. Instead, Berger struck out the side, knocked down the Sand Gnats in order the following inning (one of them by strikeout), and struck out the side again in the 9th.
  • Texas Rangers reliever Scott Feldman and his wife hosted a softball game at Rangers Ballpark yesterday (7/1/2012) for  injured soldiers. The couple previously has hosted families of deployed soldiers as well as patients from a local veterans’ hospital.
  • Baseball fans voted two Jewish players into next week’s All-Star game. Texas Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler, who also played in 2008 and 2010, will be the back-up to New York Yankees 2B Robinson Cano on the A.L. squad. On the opposing team, Milwaukee Brewers LF Ryan Braun was chosen for the 5th consecutive year, this time as a reserve player.
  • Today is the deadline for Team Israel to turn in its 50-player roster for the World Baseball Classic qualifiers in September. According to a person involved in the process, the roster includes players who have committed to play (including player/coaches Shawn Green and Gabe Kapler) as well as players who the team wants who have not yet committed.
  • Boston Red Sox prospect Ryan Lavarnway had a heck of a June. A catcher with the Pawtucket Red Sox (AAA), the Yale University alum erupted with a .405 batting average, 4 HRs, 18 RBIs, 10 doubles, a .469 on-base percentage, and an OPS (on-base plus slugging) of 1.136.
  • New York Mets prospect Josh Satin probably wishes he could play against the Durham Bulls every day of the season. As Jewish Baseball News writer Zev Ben Avigdor pointed out in his Twitter feed, the Buffalo Bisons (AAA) first baseman was on fire during a recent 4-game series against the Bulls, going 10-for-14 with 2 HRs, 4 RBIs and 4 walks.
  • When Tampa Bay Rays OF Sam Fuld had surgery on his right wrist during Spring Training, doctors predicted he wouldn’t return to the lineup before August. But after taking batting practice Friday (6/29/2012), his first time doing so since March, Fuld was optomistic. “I think we can be looking at the end of this homestand,” he said.
  • New York Yankees prospect Jeremy Bleich, who hadn’t pitched a shoulder injury sidelined him in 2010, is back. In three short appearances with the rookie-league GCL Yankees, the 25-year-old Stanford alum is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA. Bleich has given up 3 hits and one walk in 5-and-2/3 innings while striking out 7.
  • In case you missed it, here is a clip of President Barack Obama, a Chicago native, teasing Boston Red Sox fans for trading Kevin Youkilis to the Chicago White Sox. Judging from the boos, the joke was too soon.

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

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By Peter Abraham and Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe

Kevin Youkilis bids the Fenway Park fans goodbye on Sunday

By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

After weeks of speculation, the Boston Red Sox have traded All-Star infielder Kevin Youkilis to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for two players and cash.

The 33-year-old Youkilis ended his nine-year Boston stretch in style at Fenway Park today (6/24/2012), hitting a triple in his final at-bat and earning a standing ovation and teammate hugs as he left the field for a pinch-runner (see video). Youkilis finished the day 2-for-4 with 1 RBI as the Red Sox defeated the Atlanta Braves 9-4.

Now in the final year of a 4-year contract, Youkilis will receive $13-million this season. The Red Sox have agreed to pay part of it. In exchange, they will receive utility infielder Brent Lillibridge and recently-demoted pitcher Zach Stewart. Youkilis is expected to become Chicago’s starting third baseman upon arrival.

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine’s apparent dissatisfaction with the injury-prone Cincinnati native had fed rumors that he would be traded.

A lifetime .286 hitter known for his uncanny ability to get on base, Youkilis is hitting a career-low .225 with 4 HRs and 13 RBIs this season. He has played his entire career with Boston, which selected him in the 8th round of the 2001 draft.

(Click here to see how the Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, and MLB.com described the Youkilis trade.)

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Good news Monday (6/4/2012)

By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Is it Monday already? Then sprinkle these tidbits in your morning coffee:

  • Michael Schwimer is back with Philadelphia Phillies after a four-week stint in AAA, and yesterday (6/3/2012) the move paid off. In his second relief stint since returning to the bigs, the gentle giant from Fairfax, Va. (6’8″, 240 lbs.) pitched a perfect 8th inning in a 5-1 loss to the Miami Marlins. Schwimer fills a void left by reliever Jose Contreras, who suffered a season-ending injury Friday (6/1/2012).
  • Kevin Youkilis continued to show progress since returning from the disabled list. In 11 games, the venerable third baseman is hitting .289 with 2 HRs, 3 RBIs, and a .372 on-base percentage. Meanwhile, trade rumors persist.
  • Speaking of Beantown, catching prospect Ryan Lavarnway is showing renewed vigor at the plate while he bides his time with the Pawtucket Red Sox (AAA). In his last 10 games, the Yale alum is hitting .415 with 1 HR, 6 RBIs and an on-base percentage of .528.
  • Ryan Braun may never quash rumors that he took performance-enhancing drugs last season, but the 2011 N.L. MVP is letting his bat doing the talking. With one-third of the 2012 season complete, the 6th-year player is among N.L. leaders in multiple categories, despite some nagging injuries. Braun ranks 1st in range factor among left fielders, 1st in power-speed factor, 2nd in HRs (14), 3rd in total bases (36), 5th in slugging percentage (.600) and on-base percentage plus slugging (.993), 6th in wins above replacement (2.5), and 7th in RBIs (36). The only areas where the 28-year-old has seen some slippage are doubles (8) and batting average (.308).
  • Jason Marquis has a new home with the San Diego Padres. Recently released by the Minnesota Twins, the 33-year-old pitcher signed a minor-league contract with the Padres last week and promptly won his first start with the San Antonio Missions (AA), giving up 5 hits and 2 walks over 7 innings while striking out 5. The Padres are Marquis’ 8th franchise in 13 years.
  • Washington Nationals prospect Cameron Selik, a 22nd-round pick in the 2010 draft, is making the Potomac Nationals (High-A) look like geniuses for switching him to the bullpen. In 18 appearances this season, the San Diego native is 2-1 with 8 saves and a 3.68 ERA. Even more impressive are his strikeouts: he is averaging 1.5 per innings, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is a phenomenal 34/3. As a starter for Potomac last season, Selik was 4-9 with a 4.52 ERA.
  • Cross your fingers for New York Yankees prospect Jeremy Bleich, who hasn’t pitched since a shoulder injury sidelined him during the 2010 season. A 1st-round draft pick in 2008, Bleich is pitching in extended spring training and expected to return as a reliever.

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

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Good news Monday (5/14/2012)

By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Mondays blow. So inhale this:

  1. Hungering for more Jewish ballplayers? Jewish Sports Review recently uncovered two: Toronto Blue Jays prospect Ian Kadish, and Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Jared Lakind. Kadish, a 23-year-old reliever, debuted last year with the Bluefield Blue Jays (Rookie), going 2-3 with a 2.67 ERA, 7 saves, and 35 strikeouts in 30-and-one-third innings. Lakind, a 20-year-old first baseman, showed impressive run-production last year, contributing 4 HRs and 20 RBIs in just 108 at-bats for the GCL Pirates (Rookie), although his .148 batting average and 43 strikeouts left plenty of room for improvement.
  2. Kevin Youkilis, out since April 28, took batting practice and fielded ground balls Sunday (5/13/2012) for the first time since straining his lower back. We hope Youk returns to the Boston Red Sox lineup soon.
  3. Chicago White Sox reliever Dylan Axelrod is a practicing Christian. Why mention him? Because Axelrod, who made his Major League debut last month, is one of several current Major Leaguers who have at least one Jewish parent or grandparent — and thus may be eligible to play for Team Israel in the November 2012 qualifying round for the World Baseball Classic. Among others, Axelrod is joined by Cleveland Indians 2B (and Rookie of the Year candidate) Jason Kipnis, and Arizona Diamondbacks 1B Paul Goldschmidt, each of whom has a Jewish parent but identifies as Christian.
  4. Harrisburg Senators (AA) phenom Danny Rosenbaum turned in yet another stellar start on Friday (5/11/2012), pitching 7 scoreless innings in an 8-1 win over the Akron Aeros. A wizard at inducing ground balls, the 24-year-old Washington Nationals caused the Aeros to hit 11 times as many grounders as they did fly balls. So far this season, Rosenbaum is 5-0 with two complete games, a league-leading 0.71 ERA, 33 strikeouts, and just four walks in 50-and-2/3 innings, or less than one per 9 innings.
  5. In Milwaukee, Brewers 1B Ryan Braun is known not only as a star baseball player but an emerging restaurateur. His latest opening, a joint venture with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, will be called 8*twelve MVP Bar & Grill. The name is a nod to the two stars’ jersey numbers — Braun’s is ‘8’ –and the fact that each is his sport’s reigning MVP.
Have any good news about Jewish athletes and teams? E-mail them to sbarancik@jewishbaseballnews.com.

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Kevin Youkilis (Providence Journal)

By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

The Boston Red Sox placed 3B Kevn Youkilis on the 15-day disabled list yesterday (5/2/2012) due to a lower-back strain.

“The good thing is they know what’s going on and it’s nothing like a surgery or a major injury,” he told the Boston Globe.

Youkilis, who hadn’t played since April 28, has struggled at the plate so far this season. A career .288 hitter with a lifetime on-base percentage of .389, the 33-year-old Cincinnati native is hitting .219 with 2 HRs, 9 RBIs, and 20 strikeouts in 64 at-bats.

Injuries have been an unfortunate theme recently for Youk. In the past 3 seasons he played only 138, 102, and 122 games, respectively.

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