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Big trade lands Tissenbaum with Tampa Bay Rays


By Scott Barancik, editor

San Diego Padres prospect Maxx Tissenbaum was one of five players sent to the Tampa Bay Rays today as part of a 7-player trade headlined by Rays pitcher Alex Torres and Padres infielder Logan Forsythe.

A 22-year-old infielder who was chosen in the 11th round of the 2012 amateur draft and hit .277 with the Fort Wayne Tincaps (Single A) in 2013,  Tissenbaum was described today by the Tampa Bay Times as a “young, scrappy player with a good eye.”

Just how good an eye? The Toronto native struck out a team-low once in every 11.5 at-bats in 2013, was the only Tincap to walk more times (43) than he fanned (36), and ranked second on the club in on-base percentage (.365). He also led the team with 28 doubles and ranked third with 49 RBIs.

What position the Rays expect Tissenbaum to play is the big question. A career infielder who split 2013 between second base (92 games), shortstop (22 games) and DH (2 games), the Stony Brook College alum was sent to the Padres’ instructional complex in the Dominican Republic during the offseason for a crash course in playing catcher. Among those he worked with were Triple-A manager Pat Murphy and retired MLB catcher (and fellow Jew) Brad Ausmus, who later was named manager of the Detroit Tigers. “I tried to be as much of a sponge as I could, soaking up all the lessons that their years of experience could offer me,” Tissenbaum wrote in a recent blog post. “I actually enjoyed learning to catch way more than I thought I would.”

The only other Jewish player in the Rays’ system is P Lenny Linsky, who went 7-5 with a 3.22 ERA in 2013 for the Charlotte Stone Crabs (A-Advanced). Sam Fuld, who played for the Rays from 2011-13, is a free agent.

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Good news Monday (9/3/2012)

By Scott Barancik and Zev Ben Avigdor/Jewish Baseball News

Your weekly source of pride-inducing updates:

  • Ryan Braun hit his 37th HR on Sunday (9/2/2012), tying a career high. Thanks to the 3-run blast, he needs only 5 more RBIs to pierce the 100-RBI mark for the 5th straight season. So far, the only player to reach 100+ RBIs every season from 2008-2012 is Detroit Tigers 3B Miguel Cabrera. Braun also enjoyed a 4-for-6, 5-RBI performance last Monday (8/27/2012).
  • The good news is that San Diego Padres prospect Cody Decker hit his 28th HR of the season last week (8/26/2012), a solo shot in the 7th inning. The bad news is that he did it off of Corpus Christi Hooks (AA) reliever Josh Zeid. Zeid got the last laugh, however, earning a “hold” in the Hooks’ 2-1 win over Decker’s San Antonio Missions (AA).
  • David Colvin, a 6’3″ reliever selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 27th round of the 2011 draft, was named Midwest League (A) pitcher of the week for July 23-30. The 23-year-old righty, who plays for the Clinton LumberKings, is 5-3 this season with a 3.15 ERA, 61 strikeouts in 68-and-one-third innings, and just 16 walks.
  • Jacob Booden is showing increasing mastery in his first pro season. Totally ignored in the 2012 amateur draft, the 6’7″ reliever signed a free-agent contract with the St. Louis Cardinals afterward and was assigned to the Johnson City Cardinals (rookie). Booden ran up a 6.35 ERA in June, a 4.76 ERA in July, and an 0.79 ERA in August. The 22-year-old is averaging a strikeout per inning.
  • It’s good news all around for Nate Freiman. The San Diego Padres assigned him to play in the prestigious Arizona Fall League once the minor-league season ends. Freiman also has been named a Texas League All-Star. As if to celebrate, the San Antonio Missions (AA) first baseman hit a score-tying HR in the 7th inning of Sunday’s (9/2/2012) game against the Corpus Christi Hooks, and a walk-off single in the bottom of the 9th inning. Freiman is hitting a career-high .301, with 24 HRs and 105 RBIs.
  • Other players picked to play in the AFL are Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Joc Pederson and Tampa Bay Rays prospect Lenny Linsky.
  • Tikkun magazine has published an article titled In Praise of Baseball. In it, author Andrew Kimbrell commends the sport for celebrating nonviolence, collegiality, natural time, agrarianism, diversity of place, sacrifice, the common man, transcendence, failure, and coming home. Thanks to The Izzy Project for sharing it.
  • Maxx Tissenbaum reached base in 10 straight plate appearances last week, including his final two chances on Monday (8/27/2012) and all four appearances both on Tuesday and Wednesday. An article about the 21-year-old Toronto native called him a “tough out,” observing that Tissenbaum has walked 27 times this season, nearly twice as often as he has struck out (13 times).
  • Forget ‘People of the book’ —  just call us ‘People of the tweet.’ Twitter feeds authored by Toronto Blue Jays prospect Ian Kadish (Twitter) and San Diego Padres prospect Cody Decker (Twitter) are among minor-league baseball’s 20  best, according to Going 9 Baseball. Another top-ranked tweeter, Michael Schlacht, used to identify as Jewish but now is a practicing Christian.
  • Most of you know the story of Adam Greenberg, a Chicago Cub who was struck in the head by the first pitch of his first and only plate appearance in the major leagues. But you may not know about a new campaign, called One At Bat, to let the 31-year-old return to Wrigley Field later this season and get an official at-bat. Yahoo! Sports writer Kevin Kaduk argues that the Cubs have no roster space to accommodate Greenberg, but that the cellar-dwelling Houston Astros — who will play their final series of the season in Chicago — do. Click here to sign the petition.

Have any good news about Jewish athletes? Send it to

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JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — More than 50 Jewish athletes played minor-league baseball in 2011, and Jewish Baseball News has identified the very best.

Here is our 2011 list of the top Jewish minor-leaguers:

Lenny Linsky, P
Winner: Best rookie pitcher
Bowling Green Hot Rods (A)
Hudson Valley Renegages (A-short season)
Franchise: Tampa Bay Rays

 A 21-year-old in his first pro season, Linsky was 3-0 with 3 saves, a 1.23 ERA, 30 strikeouts, and just 7 walks in 29-and-1/3 innings. He held opposing batters to a .204 batting average.

Max Perlman, P
Runner-up: Best rookie pitcher
Sacramento River Cats (AAA)
AZL Athletics (Rookie)
Franchise: Oakland Athletics

Perlman’s story is among the season’s most interesting. Selected by Oakland in the 35th round of the 2011 amateur draft, the 23-year-old played just 13 games of rookie-league ball before the franchise’s AAA squad called him up. In his first AAA start, Perlman gave up only a single and a walk in five innings. For the season he went a combined 3-2 with a 2.63 ERA, 47 strikeouts, 13 walks, and an opposing-batter average of .187.

Nick Rickles, C
Winner: Best rookie batter
Vermont Lake Monsters (A-short season)
AZL Athletics (Rookie)
Franchise: Oakland Athletics

The 21-year-old rookie hit .310 this season with 2 HRs, 11 doubles, 2 triples, and 35 RBIs in 168 at-bats. Rickles had an on-base percentage of .370 and stole 6 bases in 7 attempts.

Zach Borenstein, LF
Runner-up: Best rookie batter
AZL Angels (rookie league)
Franchise: Los Angeles Angels

A first-year pro, Borenstein accomplished a lot in just 113 at-bats, hitting 2 HRs, 4 triples, 6 doubles, and driving in 21 runs. Although the 21-year-old hit a relatively modest .274, he hit .315 with runners in scoring position and had an on-base percentage of .397. Borenstein also stole an impressive 12 bases in 13 tries.

Charlie Cutler, C
Winner: Comeback player
Springfield Cardinals (AA)
Franchise: St. Louis Cardinals

Cutler fared so poorly with the Springfield Cardinals early last season that the franchise demoted him. His bad luck continued into the 2011 season, with injuries keeping him out of action much of the first several months. But the 25-year-old returned with a vengeance, ending the year with a team-high .333 average as well as 5 HRs, 34 RBIs, and a .404 average with runners in scoring position.

Danny Rosenbaum, P
Winner: Best starting pitcher
Potomac Nationals (A)
Harrisburg Senators (AA)
Franchise: Washington Nationals

Rosenbaum amassed a 9-6 record and a 2.52 ERA while striking out 135 batters and walking 52. The 23-year-old was particularly effective against lefties, whom he held scoreless across 10-and-2/3 innings.

Brett Lorin, P
Runner-up: Best starting pitcher
Bradenton Marauders (A-advanced)
Franchise: Pittsburgh Pirates

Lorin finished the year with a 2.84 ERA, 99 strikeouts, and just 19 walks. Though thin run support left him with a middling 7-6 record, the 24-year-old went 5-2 during the season’s second half and held opposing teams to a .230 batting average.

Michael Schwimer, P
Winner: Best reliever
Lehigh Valley IronPigs (AAA)
Franchise: Philadelphia Phillies

One of three Jewish minor-leaguers to reach the Majors this year, Schwimer baffled AAA batters, going 9-1 with 10 saves and a 1.85 ERA. The 25-year-old averaged 1.25 strikeouts per inning versus just 0.32 walks.

Jeff Urlaub, P
Runner-up: Best reliever
Burlington Bees (A)
Vermont Lake Monsters (A-short season)
Franchise: Oakland A’s

Urlaub finished the 2011 season with a 4-3 record, 5 saves, and a 2.41 ERA. The 24-year-old held opposing teams to a .217 batting average and struck out 7 times as many batters as he walked.

Ryan Lavarnway, C
Winner: Most Valuable Player
Pawtucket Red Sox (AAA)
Portland Sea Dogs (AA)
Franchise: Boston Red Sox

One of three Jewish minor-leaguers to reach the Majors this year, Lavarnway had career highs in batting average (.290) and HRs (32) while driving in 93 runs. The 24-year-old’s combination of plate discipline and power resulted in a .376 on-base percentage and .563 slugging percentage.

Josh Satin, 2B
Runner-up: Most valuable player
Buffalo Bisons (AAA)
Binghamton Mets (AA)
Franchise: New York Mets

One of three Jewish minor-leaguers to reach the Majors this season, Satin hit a career-high .323 with 12 HRs, 43 doubles, 2 triples, and 76 RBIs. The 26-year-old struck out 124 times but also drew 71 walks, giving him a .411 on-base percentage.

Nate Freiman, 1B
Honorable mention: Most Valuable Player
Lake Elsinore Storm (A-advanced)
Franchise: San Diego Padres

In his third year as a pro, Freiman batted .288 and led the Storm with 22 HRs and 111 RBIs. The 24-year-old’s RBI total was third-highest in the California League.

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JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — A total of 10 Jewish ballplayers were selected in the 2011 amateur draft, one more than we last reported. So where are they playing, and how well?

Here, in draft order, are the 10 players, their minor-league assignments, and their performance at this early date:

  1. Lenny Linsky, P (Tampa Bay Rays: 2nd round, 89th pick overall). Playing for the “A-short season” Hudson Valley Renegades, where, in his only appearance, he recorded two strikeouts and two walks over one inning.
  2. Adam Ehrlich, C (St. Louis Cardinals: 6th round, 200th pick overall). Playing for the rookie-league GCL Cardinals, where he is hitting .250/.400/.458 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) with 1 HR and 4 RBIS in 24 at-bats.
  3. Nick Rickles, C (Oakland A’s: 14th round, 436th overall). After playing three games for the rookie-league AZL Athletics, Rickles was sent to the “A-short season” Vermont Lake Monsters. Overall, he is hitting .303/.425/.485 with 2 doubles, 2 triples, and 4 RBIs in 33 at-bats.
  4. Jack Marder, C (Seattle Mariners: 16th round, 483rd overall). Unsigned.
  5. Zach Borenstein, OF/3B (Los Angeles Angels: 23rd round, 705th overall). Playing for the rookie-league AZL Athletics, where he is hitting .270/.372/.459 with 2 triples, 1 HR, and 5 RBIs in 37 at-bats.
  6. David Colvin, P (Seattle Mariners: 27th round, 813rd overall). Playing for the rookie-league Pulaski Mariners, where he is 0-1 but has a 0.00 ERA, 9 strikeouts, and 3 walks over 9 innings.
  7. Max Perlman, P (Oakland A’s: 35th round, 1,066th overall). Playing for the AZL Athletics with fellow Jewish draftee Nick Rickles, Perlman is 1-2 with a 4.76 ERA, 19 strikeouts, and 4 walks over 17 innings.
  8. Corey Baker, P (St. Louis Cardinals: 49th round, 1,490th overall). Playing for the “A-short season” Batavia Muckdogs, where he is 1-1 with a 3.65 ERA, 6 strikeouts, and 1 walk over 12-and-one-third innings.
  9. Jadd Schmeltzer, P (Boston Red Sox: 49th round, 1,492nd overall). Playing for the rookie-league GCL Red Sox, where he is 0-2 with a 3.24 ERA, 4 strikeouts, and 4 walks over 8-and-one-third innings.
  10. Benny Sosnick, 2B (San Francisco Giants: 49th round, 1,497th overall). Unsigned.

Nine of the 10 draftees were identified in prior Jewish Baseball News articles (one, two, three). The latest addition, thanks to Jewish Sports Review, is Adam Ehrlich.

Adam Ehrlich

The second-highest Jewish draft pick last month, Ehrlich was one of just two Jews drafted out of high school. He is a 2011 graduate of Campbell Hall H.S., an Episcopal school in North Hollywood, Calif., where he hit .566 with 5 HRs and 49 RBIs as a senior. Ehrlich had signed a letter-of-intent to play at Loyola Marymount University.

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Tally of Jews in 2011 draft reaches 8

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — The running count of Jews chosen in the 2011 MLB draft has reached 8.

Last week we reported that at least four of the 1,500 players selected in the three-day amateur draft were Jewish. But thanks to help from Jewish Baseball News reader Dan Cooper, we have identified 4 more. They are: Rickles (Oakland A’s: 14th round, 436th overall pick). A 6’3″ catcher who just completed his junior year at Stetson University, the Loxahatchee, Fla., native led his team in batting average (.347/tied), HRs (12), doubles (20), and slugging percentage (.600) in 2011. Rickles, named a second-team All-American by Baseball America, struck out just 10 times in 245 at-bats — giving him more HRs than strikeouts — while drawing 25 walks. He was the 7th toughest batter to strike out in NCAA/Division I play this year. According to this article, he was “expected to go 10 rounds higher and might be tough to sign in this round.” Marder (Seattle Mariners: 16th round, 483rd overall). A 6’0″ catcher (and converted shortstop) who just completed his sophomore year at the University of Oregon, the Calabasas, Calif., native showed good speed in 2011 (10 stolen bases in 13 attempts) but only modest success at the plate, hitting .209 with 2 HRs, 19 RBIs, and a .360 on-base percentage. University may have compiled a miserable 9-36 record in 2011, but that didn’t stop Max Perlman (Oakland A’s: 35th round, 1,066th overall pick) from excelling. A 6’7″ starting pitcher who just graduated from Harvard University, the Longwood, Fla., native missed most of his sophomore and junior seasons with an elbow injury (and Tommy John surgery) but struck gold during his senior year, leading all Ivy Leaguers with an 1.80 ERA, holding opposing teams to a .213 batting average, and recording more strikeouts (55) than hits surrendered (46). (See local article on him.)

Jadd Schmeltzer (Boston Red Sox: 49th round, 1,492nd pick). A 6’5″ starting pitcher who just graduated from Cornell University, the Tappan, N.Y., native went 3-4 with a 3.63 ERA and was named Pitcher of the Year on a team that finished 2011 with a 10-30 record.

Details on our four previously-identified players (listed below) are available here:

  • Lenny Linsky (Tampa Bay Rays: 2nd round, 89th overall pick)
  • Zach Borenstein (Los Angeles Angels: 23rd round, 705th overall)
  • David Colvin (Seattle Mariners: 27th round, 813rd overall pick)
  • Benny Sosnick (San Francisco Giants: 49th round, 1,497th pick)

For updates on the 2011 draft, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Reader.

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JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — At least four Jewish players were among the 1,530 amateurs drafted last week by MLB teams.

Though the list is likely to grow — Jewish Sports Review typically publishes a more comprehensive tally in its July/August issue — we believe this preliminary list is the first published anywhere this season.

Two of the more interesting story lines in the 2011 draft involve P Lenny Linsky and SS Garrett Wittels. Linsky is noteworthy because he was a relatively high draft pick (2nd round, 89th overall); by comparison, of the 11 Jews selected in the 2010 draft, the highest pick was SS Jake Lemmerman (5th round, 172nd overall). Wittels — a rising senior at Florida International University whose 56-game hitting streak in 2010 drew national attention but was overshadowed by a subsequent arrest — is notable because he wasn’t drafted at all.

The four known draftees include:

Lenny Linsky (Tampa Bay Rays: 2nd round, 89th overall pick). A 6’2″ closer who just finished his junior year at the University of Hawaii, the Palos Verdes, Calif., native led his team with a 1.30 ERA and 14 saves, had a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 34/9, and gave up a total of just 3 extra-base hits in 34-and-two-thirds innings this season, all doubles. Baseball America described Linsky as “nearly unhittable” and had predicted he might be drafted even higher than he eventually was. (See local article on him.)


Zach Borenstein (Los Angeles Angels: 23rd round, 705th overall). A 6’0″ OF/3B who just completed his junior year at Eastern Illinois University, the Buffalo Grove, IL, native led his team in at least 10 offensive categories this season, including batting average (.349), on-base percentage (.419), slugging percentage (.554), average with runners in scoring position (.391), runs (38), doubles (13/tie), and stolen bases (9). In the first game of a double-header against Morehead State, Borenstein went 4/5 with 3 HRs and 6 RBIs.

David Colvin (Seattle Mariners: 27th round, 813rd overall pick). A 6’3″ starting pitcher who just completed his senior year at Pomona-Pitzer, the Mill Valley, Calif., native led his team with an 8-2 record and 5 complete games while posting a 2.96 ERA. He fanned 94 batters and walked 21. (See local article on him.) Sosnick (San Francisco Giants: 49th round, 1,497th pick). A 2011 graduate of the Jewish Community High School of the Bay, the 6’1″ Sosnick “primarily played pitcher, catcher and shortstop” but was drafted as a second baseman (see article). He led his team with a .583 batting average. The Giants reportedly will consider offering Sosnick a contract pending his performance in a summer league.

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