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Minor-League Monday (July 4-10, 2016)

By Scott Barancik, Editor

Here are your minor-league updates from the week of July 4-10, 2016.

Jewish Baseball News Player of the Week

LF Mike Meyers (Red Sox/High-A) had another strong week, hitting .409 with a HR, double, 3 RBIs, 2 stolen bases, and his sixth triple of the season. He ranks second on the Salem Red Sox in RBIs (44), and fourth in stolen bases (18).

Debuts

Two 2016 draftees made their pro debuts last week.

C Andy Yerzy (Diamondbacks/rookie) went 3-for-4 in his pro debut on July 6 and finished the week 6-for-15 (.400) with 5 strikeouts.

P Brandon Gold (Rockies/short season) had a rough go of it in his first pro game, yielding 3 hits, a walk, a wild pitch, a grand-slam HR, and 3 earned runs without retiring a batter on July 6. (One batter reached base on an error.) But Gold was golden in his second appearance, striking out 2 batters in a perfect inning on July 9.

Other highlights

The latest minor-league player to be identified as Jewish is P Gabe Cramer (Royals/A). A second-year pro out of Stanford, Cramer is 2-1 with one save, a 2.79 ERA, and 23 strikeouts in 19.1 innings against just 9 walks. Last week he was dominant, yielding one hit and 2 walks over a combined 3.1 innings while striking out 8 batters.

In his second week of Triple-A ball, SS Alex Bregman (Astros) hit .316 with 3 HRs and 6 RBIs while striking out just once. He also tripled, doubled, and singled in the All-Star Futures Games on Sunday while playing both shortstop and third base.

C Michael Barash (Angels/rookie), a 2016 draftee, went 4-for-5 on July 8 with 3 singles, a grand-slam HR, and 6 RBIs. The round-tripper was his first as a pro.

C Nick Rickles (Nationals/AA) hit just .231 last week, but two of his three hits were home runs, including a two-run, walk-off shot on July 10.

In his first week of Double-A ball, C Garrett Stubbs (Astros/AA) hit .357 with a HR, 4 RBIs, 3 walks, and one strikeout.

P Max Fried (Braves/A) earned his seventh win against five losses on July 4. Entering the game in the second inning, he yielded 4 hits and a walk over 4 shutout innings while striking out 6.

P Brad Goldberg (White Sox/AAA) earned two saves last week and was added to roster of the International League All-Star team, which will face the Pacific Coast League’s All-Stars on July 13.

P Kenny Koplove (Phillies/High-A) pitched a combined 5 scoreless innings in two relief appearances, yielding 3 hits and a walk while fanning 3.

P Jared Lakind (Pirates/AA) was named an Eastern League All-Star. He’s 3-0 this season with 6 saves, a 1.80 ERA, and 45 strikeouts in 45 innings.

P Ryan Sherriff (Cardinals/AAA) earned his first save of the season on July 9, pitching 1.2 perfect innings while striking out 3 batters.

Transactions

P Josh Zeid (Mets) was promoted to Triple-A.

C Garrett Stubbs (Astros), a 2015 draftee, was promoted to Double-A.

The Atlanta Braves traded pitching prospect Alec Grosser to the Los Angeles Dodgers, which assigned him to a rookie-league squad.

The White Sox released OF Kyle Ruchim, a Northwestern alum who signed as an undrafted free agent in May 2016.

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Minor-League Monday (June 20-26)

Mason Katz homers twice

Mason Katz homers twice (click for video)

By Scott Barancik, Editor

Here are your minor-league updates from the week of June 20-26, 2016.

Jewish Baseball News Player of the Week

P Corey Baker (Cardinals/AAA) earned a shutout win in his first-ever Triple-A game, scattering four singles and a walk over 6.2 innings while striking out 6. Baker had two 1-2-3 innings and threw 62 of 95 pitches for strikes.

Debuts

At least six draftees or undrafted free agents made their pro debuts last week.

Angels draftee Michael Barash (C/rookie league) hit .333.

Twins draftee Mitchell Kranson (C/rookie league) hit .286 with two RBIs.

White Sox prospect Steve Pollakov (C/rookie league), an undrafted free agent, hit a pinch-hit single in his first pro at-bat and went 2-for-4 with a three-run home run in his first start.

Diamondbacks prospect Adam Walton (IF/rookie league), an undrafted free agent, walked and drove in a run.

Mets draftee Jeremy Wolf (OF/rookie league) doubled and drew four walks.

Blue Jays draftee Jake Fishman (P/rookie league) earned a hold in his first appearance despite yielding 4 earned runs over 2.1 innings.

Other highlights

SS Alex Bregman (Astros/AA) didn’t hit for average last week (.227), but four of his five hits went for extra bases and he walked eight times. The bigger news is that the second-year player is being promoted to Triple-A after participating in the Texas League’s All-Star game and home run derby on June 28.

Playing in his first three games of the season, second-year pro C Dalton Blumenfeld (Angels/rookie league) went 4-for-7 with 2 walks and 2 RBIs.

LF Zach Borenstein (Diamondbacks/AAA) hit .294 last week with a home run, double, 3 walks, and 6 RBIs. He’s tied for fourth place on the Reno Aces with 34 RBIs.

Former major-league 1B Nate Freiman (Red Sox/AA) had a big week, hitting .417 with a home run, double, 2 walks, and 8 RBIs.

Former major-league C Ryan Lavarnway (Red Sox/AA) hit a pair of HRs on June 20 and .429 for the week.

2B Mason Katz (Cardinals/AA) went 3-for-3 on two solo HRs, a single and a walk. After hitting just .053 in 19 at-bats for the franchise’s High-A team, Katz is hitting .361 in Double-A, with 3 HRs and 7 RBIs in 36 at-bats.

C Garrett Stubbs (Astros/High-A) hit .400 last week, raising his average to .316, fifth best in the California League. The league’s next highest-ranked catcher is hitting .278. Behind the plate, Stubbs has nixed 16 of 26 stolen-base attempts and discouraged many more baserunners from even trying.

P Max Fried (Braves/A) pitched six innings on June 23 to earn his fifth win against five losses, yielding one earned run on six hits while striking out six and walking none.

Second-year pro Raul Jacobson (Mets/short season) made his 2016 debut last week. In two relief outings, he pitched 7 scoreless innings, earned a save, and yield 5 hits and 1 walk while striking out 7.

P Jared Lakind (Pittsburgh/AA) saw his 17-game scoreless streak end June 23, but he began another streak June 26 with a perfect inning of relief.

Transactions

SS Alex Bregman (Astros), a 2015 draftee, is being promoted to Triple-A.

P Corey Baker (Cardinals) was promoted to Triple-A for the first time in his career.

Yankees 1B Ike Davis was designated for assignment. He says he will report to the team’s Triple-A club if he isn’t signed by another MLB team.

C Nick Rickles (Nationals) was assigned to the team’s Double-A club after spending nearly the entire season in extended spring training. He doubled and had a ground-out RBI in his June 26 debut.

OF Kyle Ruchim (White Sox), an undrafted free agent, was sent from Single-A to the club’s rookie-league team.

After pitching one perfect inning in Triple-A, P Jeremy Bleich (Phillies) returned to the franchise’s Double-A club.

Draftee Brandon Gold (P/short-season) signed with the Rockies.

Draftee Matthew Gorst (P/rookie) signed with the Red Sox.

Draftee Ryan Gold (C/rookie) signed with the Blue Jays.

Draftee Kenny Rosenberg (P/rookie) signed with the Rays.

Draftee Andy Yerzy (C/rookie) signed with the Diamondbacks.

Update

Eagled-eyed readers may have noticed that Cardinals prospect Matt Fiedler has disappeared from our list of 2016 draftees. Although the U. of Minnesota alum has a Jewish parent and agreed to be identified as Jewish less than two years ago, he now identifies as Christian. We wish Matt the best and a great future in baseball.

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Minor-League Monday (June 6-12, 2016)

By Scott Barancik, Editor

Here they are, your minor-league updates from the week of June 6-12, 2016.

Jewish Baseball News Player of the Week

SS Alex Bregman (Astros/AA) hit .400, drove in 7 runs, and hit a walk-off HR last week. The second-year prospect ranks among Texas League leaders with a .314 average (2nd), 13 HRs (2nd/tied), 42 RBIs (1st/tied), .411 on-base percentage (1st), .596 slugging percentage (.596), and a walk-to-strikeout ratio of 1.35 (1st).

Other highlights

P Jared Lakind (Pirates/AA) upped his streak of scoreless relief appearances to 14. The 2013 draftee hasn’t allowed an earned run since April, a period during he has reduced his ERA from 4.63 to 1.65.

P Max Fried (Braves/A) tossed his second straight scoreless start, giving up 4 hits and 2 walks over 6 innings while striking out 9.

In his first games this season, OF Jake Thomas (Blue Jays/A) hit .435 (10-for-23) last week with 3 extra-base hits and 4 RBIs.

C Ryan Lavarnway (Blue Jays/AA) hit .389 last week with a home run, 2 doubles, 4 RBIs, and 3 walks.

LF Zach Borenstein (Diamondbacks/AAA) went 2-for-3 with 3 RBIs and 3 stolen bases on June 7. For the month of June, he’s hitting .455.

It seemed a bit surprising last week when the Cardinals promoted 2B Mason Katz to Double-A after he had gone 0-for-11 in High-A, but the 25-year-old responded by going 4-for-10 with a HR, double and 2 walks.

OF Kyle Ruchim (White Sox/A) made his minor-league debut last week. His first hit, a triple, came in his second game, on June 10.

Transactions

After ending the week going 7-for-7 on June 10-11, red-hot 1B Ike Davis (Rangers/AAA) signed with the New York Yankees today and was placed on the franchise’s 25-man roster.

Former major-leaguer and Team Israel alum Josh Satin voluntarily retired, citing the effects of repeated head injuries.

The Mets signed former major-leaguer and Team Israel alum Josh Zeid to a minor-league contract. Zeid, who worked exclusively out of the bullpen in the majors, performed beautifully in a start June 11 with the Double-A Binghamton Mets, pitching 6.2 scoreless innings.

Jason Richman (Cardinals) was assigned to extended spring training.

Injury updates

Adam Sonabend (Giants/A) came off the disabled list for one game — he went 1-for-2 with a walk on June 7 — but returned to the list on June 11.

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By Scott Barancik, editor

(Editor’s note: Coverage of the MLB amateur draft is a collaboration between Jewish Baseball News and our friends at Jewish Sports Review, a bi-monthly newsletter that tracks Jewish athletes in multiple sports around the globe. Click here for subscription information.)

At least six Jewish players were selected in MLB’s 2014 amateur draft, led by Princeton hurler Michael Fagan, a 9th-round pick.

It’s one of the smallest crops in years (although additional Jewish draftees may be identified as time passes). Last year, MLB teams drafted 13 Jewish players, and the 2012 and 2013 drafts both produced 1st-round Jewish picks. Several of this year’s players are not expected to sign.

But the 2014 crew is a talented group. Here is a first look at them, in order of draft selection.

Michael Fagan, 22

  • DOB: 5/12/1992
  • Parents: Bruce and Jan Fagan
  • Twitter: @belikemike_31
  • Height: 6’0”
  • Weight: 195 lbs.
  • Position: LHP
  • School: Princeton
  • MLB team: Athletics
  • Round/Pick: 9/282

This wasn’t Michael Fagan’s first MLB draft. After graduating from San Diego Jewish Academy in 2010, his hometown Padres picked him in the 45th round. But the left-handed pitcher opted to attend Princeton instead.

It proved a wise choice. Fagan struggled mightily with the Princeton Tigers at first. Freshman and sophomore years, he had a combined 2-6 record and 10.93 ERA. Junior year, he went 1-4 with a 7.99 ERA. But after working on his fundamentals and seeing a sports psychologist (see article), he turned things around senior year. Fagan went 4-2 with a 2.33 ERA across nine starts, led the Ivy League with 77 strikeouts, issued just 18 walks, and was named to the All-Ivy League First Team.

Fagan was the sixth pitcher selected by Oakland in the 2014 draft but the first left-hander. He received a $20,000 signing bonus and reportedly has been assigned to play for the Vermont Lake Monsters, the franchise’s A-short-season team.

Julian Barzilli (Cardinals)

Julian Barzilli, 23

  • DOB: 11/16/1990
  • Parents: Ron and Lu Barzilli
  • Twitter: none
  • Height: 6’0”
  • Weight: 185 lbs.
  • Position: 3B
  • School: Whittier (CA)
  • Team: Cardinals
  • Round/Pick: 31/945

Another 21 rounds passed at the 2014 draft before the next Jewish player was selected, but Julian Barzulli was worth the wait.

Consider Barzulli’s 2014 season, for which the Whittier Poet — yes, they are called the Poets — was named the ABCA/Rawlings Division III West Region Player of the Year. The 23-year-old third baseman hit .390, led all Division III players with 17 HRs — including a three-HR performance against Occidental on March 29 — drove in 52 runs, and ranked third overall with an .851 slugging percentage. Despite being a power hitter, he walked more often (27) than he struck out (25).

Just the seventh Poet to be drafted since 1965, Barzulli led the college to its first-ever post-season appearance in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. He’s not the only baseballing Barzulli; brother Elliott just finished his freshman season with the Georgia Tech team.

St. Louis has assigned Barzilli to the GCL Cardinals, a rookie-league team.

Nate Irving (Arizona)

Nate Irving, 21

  • DOB: 10/17/1992
  • Parents: Jonathan and Rheva Irving
  • Twitter: @UVAJuliusirving
  • Height: 6’0”
  • Weight: 230 lbs.
  • Position: C
  • School: Virginia
  • Team: Diamondbacks
  • Round/Pick: 34/1,020

Before the 2014 draft, Baseball America ranked Virginia junior Nate Irving the #354th best player in the pool. The publication called him a “contact-oriented hitter” who walks more than he strikes out and “makes up for his power deficiency with advanced plate discipline and knowledge of the strike zone.”

Defensively, Irving was more than solid, making only 3 errors in 2014 and tossing out 12 of 26 base stealers. “A catch-and-throw backstop with intangibles,” Baseball America noted.

Perhaps too intangible for some. For unknown reasons, Irving was drafted 1,020th overall, well below his projected slot.

Bradley Wilpon (Boston)

Bradley Wilpon, 18

  • DOB: 8/9/1995
  • Parents: Jeff and Valerie Wilpon
  • Twitter: @Mistahbrad95
  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 175 lbs.
  • Position: RHP
  • School: Brunswick H.S. (CT)
  • Team: Red Sox
  • Round/Pick: 36/1,094

One of two 18-year-olds selected in the draft, Bradley Wilpon began his high-school career with a splash, tossing a no-hitter in his first start as a freshman on on the varsity squad. He finished well, too, compiling a 5-1 record his senior year with a 1.54 ERA.

He comes from a baseball family. Grandfather Fred Wilpon is principal owner of the New York Mets, and father Jeff Wilpon is the franchise’s chief operating officer. But the family’s talent extends beyond the front office. Jeff, a catcher, was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 5th round of the 1982 draft and by the Montreal Expos in the 4th round of the 1983 draft.

Wilpon is expected to play baseball at the University of Pennsylvania this Fall rather than sign with Boston.

Keith Weisenberg (Toronto)

Keith Weisenberg, 18

  • DOB: 12/6/1995
  • Parents: Marc and Sheryl Weisenberg
  • Twitter: @KWeis_
  • Height: 6’5”
  • Weight: 195 lbs.
  • Position: RHP
  • School: Osceola H.S. (FL)
  • Team: Blue Jays
  • Round/Pick: 38/1,134
  • MLB.com scouting video

A 6’5″ high schooler whose fastball touches 95 mph, Keith Weisenberg was projected to go as high as the first two rounds of the 2014 draft. Baseball America ranked him the #70 player in the draft pool.

Stats tell part of the story. In 2014, the 18-year-old went 9-2 with a 1.09 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 64 innings. He also hit .329 with 2 HRs and 15 RBIs. On top of that, Weisenberg graduated summa cum laude this year and was a member of the National Honor Society.

Said Baseball America: “The ball jumps from Weisenberg’s hand and he pitches off a fastball with plus life. It plays up beyond its pure velocity readings with downhill plane, arm-side run and sink. Weisenberg, who spots up effectively to both sides of the plate, has a minimal-effort delivery with a loose arm that looks like he is playing catch and will likely allow him to have above-average control.” MLB.com also enthused. “It’s rare for a top high school right-hander out of Florida to be described as projectable, but it’s a label that fits Weisenberg well.”

But MLB teams knew he planned to attend Stanford unless they made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Instead, they let him go until the late rounds, so Stanford it is. Weisenberg will be eligible for the draft again after his junior year, in 2017.

Kyle Ruchim (St. Louis)

Kyle Ruchim, 21

  • DOB: 8/11/1992
  • Parents: Mitch Ruchim and Karen Ruchim
  • Twitter: @RucDaddy
  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 180 lbs.
  • Position: 2B
  • School: Northwestern
  • Team: Cardinals
  • Round/Pick: 39/1,185

The final known Jewish player selected in the draft — and the second taken by St. Louis — Northwestern’s Kyle Ruchim had a phenomenal junior year in 2013. He ranked 4th in the Big Ten in batting average (.365), 3rd in OBP (.441), and 4th in slugging (.513). Although he was drafted as a second baseman, Ruchim assembled a 4-4 pitching record during his first three years of college, earning 14 saves and striking out 86 batters in 72 innings.

Senior year, Northwestern named him team captain, and Perfect Game named him one of the top 100 college seniors in the country. Unfortunately, the two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection played just two games in 2014 before being injured and undergoing season-ending surgery. St. Louis drafted him anyway.

Ruchim graduated this year with a degree in biology. He’s reportedly likely to sign with the Cardinals, although returning to Northwestern for a 4th season is an option.

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