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The Jews of the 2016 MLB draft

By Scott Barancik, Editor

At least 16 Jewish players were picked in the annual MLB draft that took place earlier this month. We’re going to tell you a little bit about each one.

First, the list:

  1. Andy Yerzy (C), D’backs (2nd round, #52 overall)
  2. Kenny Rosenberg (P), Rays (8th, #240)
  3. Jason Goldstein (C), Mariners (9th, #267)
  4. Mitchell Kranson (C), Twins (9th, #273)
  5. Michael Barash (C), Angels (9th rd, #276)
  6. Brandon Gold (P), Rockies (12th rd, #350)
  7. Matthew Gorst (P), Red Sox (12th rd, #358)
  8. Dean Kremer (P), Dodgers (14th rd, #431)
  9. Marc Huberman (P), Cubs (18th rd, #554)
  10. Ryan Gold (C), Blue Jays (27th rd, #822)
  11. Jordan Scheftz (P), Red Sox (28th rd, #838)
  12. Elliott Barzilli (3B), Astros (29th rd, #877)
  13. Jake Fishman (P), Blue Jays (30th rd, #912)
  14. Jeremy Wolf (LF), Mets (31st rd, #940)
  15. Matthew Popowitz (C), Marlins (36th rd, #1073)
  16. Leo Kaplan (OF), White Sox (37th rd, #1106)

The list might grow longer. After all, a number of today’s players — including Kevin Pillar and Danny Valencia — were unknown to the Jewish news media until well into their professional careers.

For only the second time in the past five years, no Jews were selected in the first round. Recent first-round picks have included SS Alex Bregman (2015, #2 overall pick, Astros), P Rob Kaminsky (2013, #28 overall pick, Cardinals), and P Max Fried (2012, #7 overall pick, Padres). There were none in 2014.

The most populous Jewish round in 2016 was the 9th. Among the 10 slots between pick numbers 267 and 276, three Jewish players were selected.

Two Georgia natives who pitched together at Georgia Tech, Brandon Gold and Matthew Gorst, were chosen eight picks apart from one another in the 12th round.

Four players (Andy Yerzy, Ryan Gold, Matthew Popowitz, Leo Kaplan) were drafted out of high school, one out of junior college (Jordan Scheftz), and the rest out after their junior or senior years of college.

Most of this year’s draftees either pitch (7) or catch (6). Three play outfield, and only one in the infield. This is not good news for Team Israel, which is preparing for the 2016 World Baseball Classic qualifiers and has few middle-infielders to choose from.

What do we know about them? Following are short bios largely drawn from MLB.comBaseballAmerica.com, and college baseball websites.

Andy Yerzy (C), Diamondbacks (2nd round, #52 overall)

  • Age: 17
  • Height/Weight: 6’3″, 215 pounds
  • Bats/Throws: L/R
  • Home: North York, Ontario
  • School: York Mills Collegiate Institute
  • Highlights: A power hitter, Yerzy tied for first place in 2016 High School Select home-run derby over All-Star Game weekend in Cincinnati. Homered in 2015 Under Armour All-American game at Wrigley Field. Played for Canada’s junior national team. Committed to Notre Dame before he signed with Diamondbacks.

Kenny Rosenberg (P), Rays (8th, #240)

  • Age: 20
  • Height/Weight: 6’1″, 195 pounds
  • Bats/Throws: L/L
  • Home: Mill Valley, CA
  • School: Cal State Northridge
  • Assigned team: Princeton Rays (rookie league)
  • Highlights: After missing sophomore season in 2015 with a back injury, ranked 14th in country with 118 strikeouts in 2016 (10.8 per nine innings). Was All-League goalkeeper on high school soccer team.

Jason Goldstein (C), Mariners (9th, #267)

  • Age: 22
  • Height/Weight: 6’0″, 210 pounds
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • Home: Highland Park, IL
  • School: University of Illinois
  • Highlights: Was picked by Angels in 17th round of 2015 draft but returned to school to finish degree. Senior year, led Illinis in average, OBP and RBIs, and threw out 15 of 39 attempted base-stealers.

Mitchell Kranson (C), Twins (9th, #273)

  • Age: 22
  • Height/Weight: 5’10”, 205 pounds
  • Bats/Throws: L/R
  • Home: Danville, CA
  • School: UC Berkeley
  • Highlights: Hit .333 with five HRs and 36 RBIs senior year while striking out just 26 times in 213 at-bats. Has played 1B, 3B, and LF in addition to catching.

Michael Barash (C), Angels (9th rd, #276)

  • Age: 21
  • Height/Weight: 6’1″, 200 pounds
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • Home: Boca Raton, FL
  • School: Texas A&M
  • Assigned team: Orem Owlz (rookie league)
  • Highlights: An “excellent defender,” according to Baseball America. Hit .324 his senior year with 5 HRs and 43 RBIs.

Brandon Gold (P), Rockies (12th rd, #350)

  • Age: 21
  • Height/Weight: 6’3″, 203 pounds
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • Home: Atlanta, GA
  • School: Georgia Tech
  • Assigned team: Boise Hawks (short season)
  • Highlights: A two-way player, went a team-best 9-3 with a 2.48 ERA as a junior. “He is a competitor with a strong track record in a power conference,” says Baseball America.

Matthew Gorst (P), Red Sox (12th rd, #358)

  • Age: 21
  • Height/Weight: 6’1″, 205  pounds
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • Home: Alpharetta, GA
  • School: Georgia Tech
  • Highlights: After posting ERAs of 7.59 and 4.81 in first two seasons, had one of best seasons in Georgia Tech history, going 2-1 with 12 saves and 0.55 ERA. Second-team All-ACC selection.

Dean Kremer (P), Dodgers (14th rd, #431)

  • Age: 20
  • Height/Weight: 6’2″, 185 pounds
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • Home: Stockton, CA
  • School: Las Vegas
  • Highlights: The first Israeli citizen to be drafted by an MLB team. Award-winning pitcher with Israel’s national team. In sole season at UNLV, went 4-5 with a 4.92 ERA.

Marc Huberman (P), Cubs (18th rd, #554)

  • Age: 22
  • Height/Weight: 6’2″, 190 pounds
  • Bats/Throws: L/L
  • Home: Los Angeles, CA
  • School: USC
  • Highlights: Went 2-1 with a 3 saves and a 1.94 ERA his senior year.

Ryan Gold (C), Blue Jays (27th rd, #822)

  • Age: 18
  • Height/Weight: 5’11”, 180 pounds
  • Bats/Throws: L/R
  • Home: Myrtle Beach, SC
  • School: Carolina Forest H.S.
  • Highlights: Signed with Toronto after committing to Coastal Carolina University. Moved from New Jersey the summer before senior year.

Jordan Scheftz (P), Red Sox (28th rd, #838)

  • Age: 20
  • Height/Weight: 6’3″, 190 pounds
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • Home: Irvine, CA
  • School: Saddleback Community College
  • Highlights: Went 4-3 with a 3.48 ERA as a sophomore.

Elliott Barzilli (3B), Astros (29th rd, #877)

  • Age: 21
  • Height/Weight: 6’0″, 175 pounds
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • Home: Los Angeles, CA
  • School: Texas Christian
  • Highlights: Hit .346 his junior year, with 7 HRs, 47 RBIs, and only one more strikeout (31) than walks (30). Younger brother of former Cardinals prospect Julian Barzilli.

Jake Fishman (P), Blue Jays (30th rd, #912)

  • Age: 21
  • Height/Weight: 6’3″, 195 pounds
  • Bats/Throws: L/L
  • Home: Sharon, MA
  • School: Union College (NY)
  • Highlights: Went 7-0 his junior year with 0.41 ERA. In 66 innings, fanned 85 while walking only 11. Had team’s second-best batting average (.361).

Jeremy Wolf (LF), Mets (31st rd, #940)

  • Age: 22
  • Height/Weight: 6’3″, 220 pounds
  • Bats/Throws: L/R
  • Home: Scottsdale, AZ
  • School: Trinity
  • Highlights: Hit .408 as a senior, leading team with 11 HRs and 70 RBIs in just 201 at-bats. Walked nearly twice as often as he struck out (35 vs. 19).

Matthew Popowitz (C), Marlins (36th rd, #1073)

  • Age: 18
  • Height/Weight: 5’11”, 160 pounds
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • School: Suffern H.S. (NY)

Leo Kaplan (OF), White Sox (37th rd, #1106)

  • Age: 18
  • Height/Weight: 6’1″, 180 pounds
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • Home: Santa Monica, CA
  • School: Harvard-Westlake H.S. (CA)
  • Highlights: Attended same high school as former 1st-round draft pick Max Fried.

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