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By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

A flurry of roster moves is taking place as Spring Training player evaluations near an end.

The Oakland A’s picked up Nate Freiman on Saturday (3/23/2013) after the Houston Astros put him on waivers. The 26-year-old first baseman, who dominated opposing pitchers during Team Israel’s World Baseball Classic bid last year, hit .278 for Houston during Spring Training, with 1 HR, two doubles, no walks and 7 whiffs in 36 at-bats.

According to, the A’s are considering Freiman for a potential platoon job at first base. Acquired by the Astros in the Rule 5 postseason draft, the 6-foot-8, 250-pounder hit .298 with 24 HRs and 105 RBIs  for the San Diego Padres’ double-A team in 2012.

As Jewish Baseball News contributor Zev Ben Avigdor points out in his minor-league Twitter feed, Freiman joins a franchise rich in Jewish players, including pitchers Max Perlman and Jeff Urlaub and catcher Nick Rickles.

Danny Valencia‘s bid to start the 2013 season on the Baltimore Orioles’ roster ended Thursday (3/21/2013) when he was reassigned to the Norfolk Tides, the franchise’s triple-A team. The move came despite a strong Spring in which the 28-year-old third baseman hit .323 with 1 HR and 4 RBIs in 31 at-bats and had a .417 on-base percentage. He hit a game-winning HR in Tuesday’s (3/19/2013) 8-7 win over the Boston Red Sox.

According to the Baltimore Sun:

The 28-year-old Valencia entered camp as a possible right-handed designated hitter because of his .316/.359/.472 career batting line against right-handed pitching. He also competed for a utility infield spot this spring, playing both third base and first base.

The Sun also noted that during the offseason, Valencia‘s name “appeared on a list tied to a Miami-area anti-aging clinic that is being investigated by MLB for supplying major league players with performance-enhancing drugs. Valencia addressed the report on the first day of camp, denying that he’s ever used PEDs.”

Pittsburgh Pirates prospect (and one-time Major Leaguer) Aaron Poreda was released earlier this month by the club’s double-A team, the Altoona Curve. The 26-year-old hurler started three games for the Curve in 2012, going 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA. Poreda played briefly in 2009 for the San Diego Padres and the Chicago White Sox.

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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.PlayerPos.AgeHometownMinor-league teamParent 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 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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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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