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Browsing Posts tagged Maxx Tissenbaum

By Scott Barancik, Editor

Here they are, your minor-league updates from the week of May 30-June 5, 2016.

Jewish Baseball News Player of the Week

C Garrett Stubbs (Astros/High-A) maintained his hot hand, hitting .400 last week (8-for-20) with a home run, 7 RBIs, 4 walks and a stolen base. He ranks second in the California League in on-base percentage (.414/tied) and OPS (.922), eighth in average (.310), eleventh in stolen bases (9/tied), and thirteenth in RBIs (30). The winner of the 2015 Johnny Bench Award, given to the nation’s top collegiate catcher, has thrown out 12 of 18 attempted base-stealers this season.

Other highlights

P Scott Effross (Cubs/A) extended his streak of scoreless outings to 10. During that period, he went 2-0 with one save, striking out 21 batters over 15.1 innings while walking only two.

P Brad Goldberg (White Sox/AAA) delivered three scoreless relief appearances, enough to shrink his ERA from 3.12 to 2.70. He gave up three hits and no walks over a combined two-and-two-thirds innings.

After struggling a bit in his first start off the disabled list (May 30), P Rob Kaminsky (Indians/AA) recovered with a beauty on June 4, delivering five near-perfect innings in a 2-1 win over the Bowie Baysox. Cleveland’s #10 prospect yielded one hit and no walks while striking out three.

LF Mike Meyers (Red Sox/High-A) made the most of his four hits last week, driving in six runs with a home run, two doubles, a sacrifice fly, and two RBIs. His 31 RBIs rank 11th in the Carolina League.

In his last 10 relief appearances, P Jeremy Bleich (Phillies/AA) is 1-0 with a 1.17 ERA over 15.1 innings, striking out 9 while walking just one batter.

P Max Fried (Braves/A) threw five scoreless innings on June 3, yielding 3 hits and 4 walks while striking out 8. He also picked a man off first base.

CF Rhett Wiseman (Nationals/A) hit .400 (8-for-20) with a home run, double, 3 walks, 4 RBIs, and 2 stolen bases in 3 tries. After hitting .173 in April, Wiseman hit .312 in May and is hitting .500 through the first four games of June.

LF Zach Borenstein (Diamondbacks/AAA) recorded two straight 4-for-5 games on June 2 and June 4, stringing together two doubles, a triple, five singles, and one RBI while stealing a base.

Transactions

2B Mason Katz (Cardinals/High-A) came off the disabled list for the first time this season. He went hitless in three games but drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.

After returning from the disabled list in late May, C Maxx Tissenbaum (Marlins/A) hit .316 (6-for-19) with a home run, 6 RBIs, 3 walks, and just one strikeout. But for reasons unknown, he was released last week. News reports indicate the Toronto native has since signed with the Quebec Capitales of the CanAm League.

C Tim Remes (Tigers/High-A) returned to the lineup June 4 after nearly two months.

Oakland released third-year pitching prospect Mike Fagan.

Injury updates

San Francisco Giants prospect Adam Sonabend (A) was placed on the 7-day disabled list.

Cincinnati Reds prospect Zack Weiss (AA) remains on the disabled list. He’s been out the whole season with a shoulder injury.

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By Scott Barancik, Editor

Here they are, your minor-league updates from the week of May 23-29, 2016.

Jewish Baseball News Player of the Week

Jared Lakind (Pirates/AA) had a busy week, delivering four scoreless relief appearances to stretch his streak to 10. The 24-year-old gave up one hit and three walks while striking out five over a combined six innings. Lakind’s season ERA has shrunk to a slim 2.00.

Other highlights

Richard Bleier (Yankees/AAA) was called-up to the Majors for the first time in his nine-year professional career. Through May 29, he had not yet made his on-field debut.

LF Mike Meyers (Red Sox/High-A) knocked in four runs to boost his season total to 27, tying him for 11th in the Carolina League. His four triples rank fifth.

SS Alex Bregman (Astros/AA) added two HRs, two doubles, three walks and six RBIs last week while striking out just once. The 22-year-old phenom’s slugging percentage (.652) and OPS (1.077) rank second among all minor-leaguers, and his walk-to-strikeout ratio (1.54) ranks fifth.

C Garrett Stubbs (Astros/High-A) continued tearing up the ball, hitting .400 with a home run, two doubles, three walks, and four RBIs. For the season, the 23-year-old USC alum is hitting .292 with 5 HRs, 23 RBIs, 8 stolen bases, and a .394 on-base percentage in just 106 at-bats.

In just his second game back after a month on the disabled list, C Maxx Tissenbaum (Marlins/A) went hit a grand-slam home run.

CF Rhett Wiseman (Nationals/A) hit .357 with a home run, two doubles, and three RBIs.

LF Zach Borenstein (Diamondbacks/AAA) hit .333 with a home run, triple, two doubles, and four RBIs. His walk/strikeout ratio was a little lopsided, with eight whiffs and zero bases on balls.

Cincinnati Reds starter Jon Moscot was dominant in his third rehab game, pitching six shutout innings and striking out four batters while yielding four hits and no walks. He is scheduled to start tomorrow’s Reds game against the Rockies (May 31).

Reliever R.C. Orlan (Nationals/High-A) was busy too, earning two saves in three appearances. His three scoreless outings extended his streak to eight in a row. For the year, Orlan is 1-0 with a 1.27 ERA, six saves in seven opportunities, and is holding opposing batters to a .113 average and just 0.89 walks/hits per inning.

Also nailing four scoreless appearances was P Jason Richman (Rangers/High-A), who yielded four hits and a walk over a total of five innings while striking out five.

P Scott Effross (Cubs/A) was perfect in each of two relief appearances, striking out three batters over as many innings. The 22-year-old hasn’t yielded an earned run in eight straight outings.

Transactions

Former major-leaguer Ryan Lavarnway signed a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays and logged three games with the franchise’s Double-A team.

Former Athletics prospect Jeff Urlaub has joined the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the independent Atlantic League.

The Padres assigned former major-leaguer Josh Satin (AAA) to extended spring training.

Injury updates

Cleveland Indians prospect Rob Kaminsky (AA) remains on the disabled list.

Cincinnati Reds prospect Zack Weiss (AA) remains on the disabled list.

Birthdays

Astros prospect Garrett Stubbs (High-A) turned 23 on May 26.

Red Sox prospect Zach Kapstein (A-short season) turned 24 on May 28.

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By Scott Barancik, Editor

Here they are, your minor-league updates from the week of May 16-22, 2016.

Jewish Baseball News Player of the Week

SS Alex Bregman (Astros/AA) hit .367 with 3 HRs, 2 doubles, 10 RBIs, and 4 walks. The second-year pro is ranked first in the Texas League in on-base percentage (.425), slugging percentage (.658) and OPS (1.083), second in HRs (10/tied), third in RBIs (29), and fifth in batting average (.325) through games played May 22.

Other highlights

Former major leaguer Ike Davis (Rangers/AAA) was on a roll last week, hitting .450 with 2 HRs, 4 doubles, 7 RBIs, and 2 walks. Despite going 0-for-22 to start the season, Davis has lifted his batting average to .263 with 3 HRs, 8 doubles, and 18 RBIs in just 80 at-bats.

Richard Bleier (Yankees/AAA) bounced back from his worst outing of the season with a shutout win on May 22, yielding just three hits and two walks over 6 innings while striking out three. For the season, Bleier is 2-2 with a 2.57 ERA and a 1.17 walks/hits per inning.

C Garrett Stubbs (Astros/High-A) had a great week, hitting .273 with 3 HRs, 10 RBIs, and 6 walks. The highlight was a 2-homer, 4-RBI game on May 18.

LF Mike Meyers (Red Sox/High-A) knocked in 5 runs to boost his season total to 23, tying him for 12th in the Carolina League.

In his first game back after a month on the disabled list, C Maxx Tissenbaum (Marlins/A) went 2-for-2 on May 22.

Over two appearances, reliever Scott Effross (Cubs/A) struck out six batters and walked none in three scoreless innings as well as earned a win. He has three times as many strikeouts (21) as walks (7) this season.

Reliever Jared Lakind (Pirates/AA) skipped High-A ball altogether, but you wouldn’t know it from his performance this season. The 24-year-old Texas native is 0-0 with a 2.53 ERA, and he has a 1.50 ERA with two saves in his last 10 appearances.

Reliever R.C. Orlan (Nationals/High-A) earned his fourth save of the season on May 18 with one-and-two-thirds perfect innings. He’s 1-0 this season with a 1.45 ERA and is holding opposing batters to a .131 average and just 0.96 walk/hits per inning.

Starter Max Fried (Braves/A) pitched five innings of scoreless, one-hit ball on May 19, striking out four while walking as many.

Reliever Jeremy Bleich (Phillies/AA) was perfect in two brief stints, yielding no hits or walks over a combined two-and-a-third innings and striking out one. He’s held opponents scoreless in five of his last six outings.

Reds starter Jon Moscot got clobbered in his second rehab game, a 4-inning shift in which he gave up 11 hits (including 4 HRs), 9 earned runs, and 2 walks.

Mazel tov

Former Colorado Rockies prospect Ethan Katz has landed a job as pitching coach with the Bakersfield Blaze (Seattle Mariners/High-A).

Transactions

Sorry to report that Milwaukee released OF Ben Guez (AAA). A ninth-year pro, Guez is a .258 career hitter with 84 HRs, 94 stolen bases, and a .346 on-base percentage.

Injury updates

Cleveland Indians prospect Rob Kaminsky (AA) remains on the disabled list.

Cincinnati Reds prospect Zack Weiss (AA) remains on the disabled list.

Birthdays

Brewers prospect Jake Drossner (A) turned 22 on May 16.

Former Brewers prospect Steve Braun, the younger brother of slugger Ryan Braun, turned 31 on May 17

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By Scott Barancik, Editor

Here they are, your minor-league updates from the week of May 9-15, 2016.

Highlights

Astros #1 prospect Alex Bregman (AA) hit .286 with 2 HRs, 2 doubles, 5 RBIs, and 3 walks in the week ended May 15. He also made his first professional start at third base, a show of versatility that could ease his eventual rise to the Majors, given that Astros SS Carlos Correa is thought to have the shortstop position locked down. General manager Jeff Luhnow told MLB.com that depending how Bregman does the rest of the season and what sort of spaces open up in Houston, it’s possible the 2015 draftee could be called up later this year. Bregman ranks 1st in the Texas League in on-base percentage (.420), 7th in batting average (.310) and home runs (7/tied), and is homering once in every 12 at-bats.

After enduring a crushing loss on May 9 (3 IP, 9 H, 7 ER, 3 HR, 2 BB, 0 K), St. Louis Cardinals prospect Corey Baker (AA) could have gone into a protracted funk. Instead, the 26-year-old righty rebounded with a dominant 6-inning performance on May 15, yielding one earned run on three hits and two walks while striking out six.

Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Jared Lakind (AA) had three scoreless relief appearances, striking out seven batters over a combined four innings while yielding just one hit and one walk. He also earned his second save of the season.

Washington Nationals prospect Rhett Wiseman (A) drove in eight runs over the week’s final three games to raise his season total to 21, tying him for 11th place in the South Atlantic League. Wiseman hit just .173 in April but is hitting .300 in May.

Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Henry Hirsch (High-A) picked up his first save of the season on May 15 with a perfect inning of relief. For the season, he’s 1-2 with a 3.22 ERA.

In his first week with the Boston Red Sox franchise, former major leaguer Nate Freiman (AA) hit .333 with 3 doubles, 6 RBIs, and 3 walks.

Boston Red Sox prospect Mike Meyers (High-A) hit his third triple, his first two doubles of the season, and drove in six runs to raise his season total to 18. Meyers, who’s hitting .304, is one of very few minor leaguers with more triples than doubles.

Houston Astros prospect Garrett Stubbs (High-A) has reached base safely on all seven steal attempts this season, and he has done so in just 64 at-bats.

Washington Nationals prospect R.C. Orlan (High-A) lowered his ERA to 1.59 with two scoreless relief appearances. He’s 1-0 with three saves in four chances, has held opposing batters to a .143 average, and has yielded just eight hits over 17 innings.

Texas Rangers prospect Jason Richman, a 2015 draftee, held opponents hitless in his first two Double-A relief appearances, yielding two walks over two innings.

Transactions

Injury updates

  • Cleveland Indians prospect Rob Kaminsky (AA) was placed on the 7-day disabled list.
  • Cincinnati Reds prospect Zack Weiss (AA) remains on the disabled list.
  • Miami Marlins prospect Maxx Tissenbaum (A) remains on the disabled list.

Birthdays

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By Scott Barancik, Editor

Here they are, your minor-league updates from the week of May 2-8, 2016.

Highlights

After getting only one hit in his first 22 at-bats, former major leaguer Ike Davis (AAA/Rangers) went 3-for-5 with two doubles and five RBIs on May 2. Davis has reached base in his last six games and had one or more hits in five of them, raising his average to a respectable .257.

OF Zach Borenstein‘s 15 RBIs rank third on the Reno Aces (AAA/Diamondbacks), and he’s accumulated them in just 80 at-bats.

OF Mike Meyers (High-A/Red Sox) went 3-for-5 on May 8, stroking his second HR of the season and stealing his fourth base.

Brad Goldberg (AAA/White Sox) kept opponents scoreless in both relief appearances, yielding a total of two hits and no walks over three innings while striking out two. His overall ERA between AA and AAA ball this season is 2.19.

After tearing the ball apart in AAA, Ryan Kalish was called up by the Cubs and made his season debut May 3.

C Garrett Stubbs (High-A/Astros) has been on fire since returning from the disabled list May 5. In three games last week, he went 5-for-12 (.417) with a double, home run, 3 walks, 4 RBIs, and stolen base. He’s been spectacular behind the plate, throwing out 7 of 10 attempted base stealers with no errors.

CF Rhett Wiseman (A/Nationals) has a 5-game hitting streak and has raised his average to .223. On May 5, he went 4-for-5 with a triple and an RBI.

Jeremy Bleich (AA/Phillies) held batters scoreless in all three relief appearances last week, yielding four hits and two walks over five innings while striking out four.

Richard Bleier (AAA/Yankees) was dominant in his second start of the season May 5, a 7-inning gem in which he gave up six hits, a walk, and one earned run while striking out four.

Former major leaguer Ryan Lavarnway (AAA/Braves) has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games, raising his average to .275 with 7 doubles and 8 RBIs.

Scott Effross (A/Cubs) held opponents scoreless in two relief appearances, yielding one hit and two walks over three innings while striking out six.

Robert Orlan (High-A/Nationals) has earned saves in three of his last four appearances, including a one-inning stint May 8 that trimmed his ERA to 1.88, his opponents’ batting average to .109, and his walks/hits per innings to 1.05.

Transactions

  • Former major leaguer Nate Freiman has signed a minor-league contract with the Boston Red Sox and will suit up with the franchise’s Double-A club, the Portland Sea Dogs. After being released by the Washington Nationals’ Triple-A club last month, Freiman played six games for the independent Long Island Ducks, hitting .381 with two HRs and four RBIs.
  • White Sox prospect Alex Katz was reassigned to extended spring training.

Injury updates

  • Astros #1 prospect Alex Bregman (AA) returned from the disabled list on May 5. For the week, he was 3-for-13 (.231) with four walks and two strikeouts. He hit two doubles on May 6.
  • Former major leaguer Josh Satin is off the disabled list and has played five games with the El Paso Chihuahuas (AAA/Padres).
  • Marlins prospect Maxx Tissenbaum (A) has been placed on the 7-day disabled list retroactive to 4/27/2016.

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(MiLB.com)

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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By Scott Barancik, editor

A couple of minor-leaguers we didn’t know about until recently have been added to our roster of Jewish players.

As they used to say on Law and Order, here are their stories:

Jeremy Rathjen, 23

A 6-foot-5-inch, 195-pound outfielder out of Rice University, Rathjen was chosen by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 11th round of the 2012 amateur draft. He spent the 2012 season with the rookie-league Ogden Raptors, where he excelled, ranking among team leaders with a .324 average (4th), nine HRs (1st/tie), 53 RBIs (3rd), 17 doubles (2nd/tie), 16 stolen bases (2nd), a .443 on-base percentage (1st), and a .943 OPS (1st).

This year Rathjen’s playing for the Great Lakes Loons (Class A). Through Sunday’s games he was hitting .239 with 7 HRs, 60 RBIs (1st), 29 doubles (1st), 14 hit-by-pitches (1st), and a .347 on-base percentage (3rd).

Rathjen was the valedictorian of his high-school class in Houston, Tex. He turned down the Arizona Diamondbacks, who had selected him in the 45th round of the 2008 draft, to attend Rice. He was selected first team All-Conference USA his senior year and led the Owls with 9 home runs, 14 doubles, and a .525 slugging percentage.

Baseball America predicted he would be chosen within the first five rounds of the 2012 draft, but he dropped to the 11th round, possibly because of an ACL tear in his right knee. Improbably, he was one of three Jewish players chosen in the 11th round that year, the other two being Maxx Tissenbaum (San Diego Padres) and Eric Jaffe (Chicago White Sox).

Greg Zebrack, 22

Greg Zebrack went undrafted in 2013, but he didn’t escape the attention of the Washington Nationals, which signed him shortly after. Since then the 6-foot-1-inch, 200-pound outfielder has played 37 games for the Auburn Doubledays (Class A-short season), hitting .236 with 1 HR, 14 RBIs, 7 stolen bases, and a .336 on-base percentage. He’s hit significantly better with men in scoring position (.290) and against lefties (.310).

Zebrack’s path to the pros was serpentine. After starring on the baseball team at his North Hollywood high school, he rejected a 43rd-round draft bid by the Los Angeles Dodgers in favor of playing for the USC Trojans. But scant playing time his freshman year led him to transfer to the University of Pennsylvania, where he became a legitimate star after sitting out his sophomore season.

After graduating from Penn, Zebrack returned to USC for an MBA and another shot at baseball there. In 2013 he hit .345 with 3 HRs, 15 doubles, a .422 on-base percentage and a .495 slugging percentage for the Trojans.

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Editor’s note: Maxx Tissenbaum is a 21-year-old prospect with the Fort Wayne TinCaps, the San Diego Padres’ Single-A team, and an honest chronicler of life in the minor-leagues. Click here to see Maxx‘s past blog entries, and click here to join the Jewish Baseball News mail list.

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By Maxx Tissenbaum/Special to Jewish Baseball News

Wow, what a week it has been for your fighting Fort Wayne Tincaps!  Since arriving home for our short three game set with the Great Lakes Loons, and everybody’s favorite Midwest League manager Razor Shines, we are 5-0, and have won a road series!  Hard to believe, but BELIEVE IT! That. Just. Happened.  Our home series with Great Lakes was a marked by a barn burner of a middle game, one in which four pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter.  We outscored Great Lakes 13-7, and we forced Razor to argue 26 calls, most of which he argued twice.

In the middle game, Max Fried went up against Jharel Cotton.  [Editor’s note: Fried is a Jewish pitcher as well as one of Maxx Tissenbaum’s roommates.] We faced him in our first series of the year at Great Lakes, and he’s a guy I faced in college, too.  I was looking forward to facing him now that I’d sort of found some rhythm at the plate.  I knew he was going to pitch off of his 2-seam fastball, which he locates well down in the zone.  He loves to stay away from lefties, and has a good changeup that he loves to use against lefties.  As a hitter, there is nothing better than going into a game with a very precise scouting report and an abundance of knowledge and familiarity with the opposing pitcher.  Walking to the plate knowing both tendencies and what each of his pitches looks like is a huge advantage and completely eliminates the surprise factor that pitchers try to beat you with. As Spring says on his Quality At Bats tape, it gets rid of the “whoaaaaa where’d that come from?”  I was confident that I’d play a part in a hit parade that was surely on its way.  Shortly after the first pitch was thrown, I realized this wasn’t going to be the case.  I did absolutely nothing at the plate, our team collected just five hits all night and going into the 9th we hadn’t scored a run.

 

The final line score from our no-hitter.

The exciting part of the game turned out to be on the defensive side of the ball.  Playing behind Max Fried, we all got chances early in the game.  We turned two double plays, our outfielders tracked down everything, and Max struck out 8 through 5.2 innings.  We were rolling. Matt Shepherd came in and immediately got a first pitch ground out to end the inning, another chance for me defensively.  He then threw another perfect inning before handing the ball to Leonel Campos, who threw a perfect inning, striking out every batter he faced. Roman Madrid threw the 9th, with a walk and a strikeout.  All night our guys gave us a chance to win the game.  We came up in the 9th inning, managed to get a hit and a pair of hit batsmen to load the bases.  It all came down to Brian Adams and [Loons pitcher] Scott Griggs. B.A. outlasted Griggs, walking on four pitches to set off the most exciting celebration in baseball, the walk-off walk.  Okay, so maybe it was a LITTLE anti-climatic, but a walk-off win is a walk-off win.  For most of our guys the no-hitter was an afterthought.  Nobody really noticed it until we were packing up and headed back to the clubhouse.  It was such a weird way to throw a no-no, there was no celebration on the mound like you always see on SportsCenter. There was a subdued mob around Adams at first base and then we all sort of just left.

We came back the next day and thumped the Loons 6-2 behind another dominant pitching performance by Justin Hancock.  We were out to a 6-0 lead before they got a run across, and by that point it was far too late.  We pulled out another home sweep, improving our record at Parkview Field to 13-3, a dominant clip.  It was great to sweep Great Lakes because as I mentioned in the open, our favorite manager Razor left in a huff.

We jumped on the bus the next morning and headed to Dayton, Ohio, to face the Dragons, the Cincinnati Reds affiliate.  Dayton’s Fifth Third Field is a stadium that currently boasts an over 900-consecutive-game sellout streak, and is one of the hardest tickets in all of pro sports to get.  I was excited to play at that stadium not because of the sellout streak, but because it seemed to bring together the long road I’ve traveled in my baseball career.

The entrance to 5th 3rd Field that my family used when I arrived at the showcase. This picture was taken from our bus as we pulled up to the players entrance yesterday.

Let me flash back to June of 2008.  I was a high school Junior, and had just been selected to play on Team Canada during its spring Dominican Summer League trip. I was beginning to receive letters from both college and pro teams requesting more information on both my playing and my academic career.  When I found out I’d be away from home for 10 days, I knew I’d be missing out on the excitement of checking the mail to see who wanted me to fill out what forms.  I told my parents that I wanted them to call me every time someone sent me baseball-related mail, and told them to open it and read it to me.  I came home from one of our games against the DSL teams and had my daily phone call with my mom, and she joked, “Okay, it’s time to commit mail fraud,” a running joke over the course of the week. What she read next floored me.  I had been a relatively obscure player in terms of the prospect rankings, and so I was totally off guard when she told me that the New York Yankees had sent me a huge package.  She read to me that they wanted me to go to a workout in Dayton, where I’d be evaluated by scouting directors, cross-checkers and other pro scouts from across MLB.  I freaked out, I wrote it in my calendar, and put in on my computer I made sure there were reminders everywhere.  When I came home I made sure to rearrange the exam I had scheduled for the morning of the workout.  My parents and I traveled to Dayton, and I walked through the home plate gate of Fifth Third Field, where I met the scout who had invited me.  He handed me a Yankees batting practice jersey and cap, and told me to head to the 3rd-base dugout.  I sat there putting on my spikes with about 50 other high school kids in either Yankees, Reds, Diamondbacks or Tigers uniforms.  We were all wide eyed, and I’d assume more nervous than any of us let on.  The workout was a blast, I got to work with all sorts of pro scouts and coaches, got to play with and against some of the top players in my graduating class and to top it all off  I was in a GORGEOUS minor league stadium.  Let’s just say it was one of my best baseball memories.

When the Tincaps arrived on Saturday afternoon, I threw my stuff into a locker and headed right to the dugout to check out the stadium I’d played on years earlier.  When I got to the field I was sort of disappointed.  I was surprised at how unimpressive the stadium looked compared to what I thought it was in high school.  I guess having never played at Alabama, Coastal Carolina, San Diego State, North Carolina, LSU, the College World Series, PK Park in Oregon, or any of the big league Spring Training stadiums, that Fifth Third Field seemed like the top of the baseball world.  I was almost as surprised about getting that invitation as I was at the weird realization that this was just another Class-A stadium, a nice ball park, but hardly the pantheon I thought it was.

The scoreboard in Dayton features two enormous dragons that spray smoke from their snouts when the home team hits a home run.

We went out and beat Dayton in the first two games, one of which I played, the other I sat and charted from the dugout.  Today we wrap up our series and head back to Fort Wayne for a three-game set against Bowling Green.  I think based on our start to the year we can finish this series off strong, because our team seems to play its best baseball in front of big crowds at nice stadiums, so Dayton has that almost homey feel to it.

Hopefully we can grab an early lead and pitch our way to another sweep, our first road sweep of the year!

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By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Here are highlights from minor-league games played on Saturday, April 13:

  • Max Fried, a 19-year-old starter ranked the San Diego Padres’ No. 2 prospect by MLB.com, earned his first professional win, and in dominant fashion. Fried pitched 5 scoreless innings for the Fort Wayne TinCaps (Single-A), giving up just 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out eight (see article and box score). Chosen 7th overall in the 2012 amateur draft — for which he received a $3-million bonus — the 6’4″ Californian walked the first batter of the game but then picked him off first base. Providing support was Jewish teammate and roommate Maxx Tissenbaum, who drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and drew his Midwest League-leading 10th walk of the season. (Click here to see Tissenbaum‘s excellent blog.)
  • Double-A players Jack Marder and Jake Lemmerman both hit their first HRs of the 2013 season. Marder, a Seattle Mariners prospect who went 2/4 and added a walk, was Jewish Baseball News’ 2012 minor-league rookie of the year. Lemmerman plays shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals’ organization.
  • Red-hot New York Mets prospect Josh Satin had a perfect day at the plate, going 2/2 with a home run, 3 RBIs, and 3 walks for the Las Vegas 51s (Triple-A). Satin is hitting .474 (3rd highest in the Pacific Coast League) with 4 HRs (1st/tie), 12 RBIs (3rd/tie), 12 runs (2nd/tie), a .545 on-base percentage (3rd/tie), and an on-base plus slugging of 1.440 (3rd).
  • Baltimore Orioles prospect (and former Major Leaguer) Danny Valencia went 3/4 and drove in a run, raising his batting average to .333. Valencia plays third base for the Norfolk Tides (Triple-A).
  • In his second start of the 2013 season, Tampa Bay Rays prospect Sean Bierman earned his second consecutive shutout. Bierman gave up five singles and no walks while striking out four batters for the Bowling Green Hot Rods (Single-A).

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Editor’s note: Maxx Tissenbaum is a 21-year-old prospect with the San Diego Padres organization and an honest chronicler of life in the minor-leagues. Click here to see Maxx‘s past blog entries, and here to join our mail list.

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By Maxx Tissenbaum/Special to Jewish Baseball News

There are very few days in a calendar year that I find to be as important as Opening Day. Sure, baseball is a marathon of a season and the first game rarely, if ever, has a real outcome on the season. I understand that, but there is something about Opening Day, and a team’s Home Opener, that just make an early April day so much more than just an early April day. As you can imagine, April 11 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, isn’t necessarily going to be the most wonderful weather day of the year, but it was the night of our Home Opener at Parkview Field.

Now let me backtrack just so you get the whole Minor League Baseball experience. My team started the season on a 7-game road trip, of which we played only 6 because rain washed out our middle game against West Michigan. We finished our series in the cold and the rain of Grand Rapids around 9:30 p.m on April 10. We all packed up our own lockers, showered and brought our stuff out to the bus. I was in charge of making sure the trainer’s equipment also made it to the bus, so I had to make three trips back and forth to get everything loaded. Yes, players do have to carry things in the Minor Leagues, and no, the bags on wheels don’t always have a handle (it shattered into a million pieces en route to Grand Rapids). We left Fifth Third Field shortly after 10 p.m and made the 3-and-a-half-hour DRIVE back to Fort Wayne, arriving at the ballpark around 1:30 a.m. We all threw our bags into our lockers (and the trainer’s bags into his office) before running to our cars to drive back to our apartments. All told, I think I finally made it into bed around 2:15 a.m. after our quick Taco Bell stop, and taking time to (Mom and Dad, get this) put my laundry in the bucket and fold up my clothes and put them back in my closet!

So, 7 hours of sleep later, I was awake and back at it. Walker Weickel, one of my roommates, and I woke up early to go and do the grocery shopping. Now, I do consider myself a pretty decent grocery shopper. I can always take a list based on a recipe Mom or Dad is going to work from and I can come home with everything we need. I have NEVER had to shop to stock a completely EMPTY apartment that has four male athletes between the ages of 19-22 living in it.

I had a bit of a panic attack and decided to call in the expert. I spent most of my time in the store talking it through with my Mom, making sure that I got what I needed and avoided the ingredients for Pizookies and other desserts that I really can’t afford to be messing around with just yet. Walker and I each had a shopping cart filled to the top, and we attempted to guess each of our bills. We were both off by around $40 but I was closer, so by Price is Right rules I won. We came home and unpacked everything into our fridge, cupboards and drawers making sure to keep everything incredibly organized. We then quickly made brunch, as it was almost time to leave for the stadium. I fried up some eggs, cut in some (ADVERTISING here) Bumpercrop Beer Sweet Peppers and made some toast. I had Brian Adams and Dane Phillips, two of my teammates from last summer, come over to the apartment because we were all going to the stadium for early hitting. I crushed my lunch, rinsed the dishes and the frying pan, and grabbed my keys to head to the field.

Arriving at the stadium I began to get butterflies, not the nervous UH OH ones, but the excited I CAN’T WAIT ones. We headed down to the clubhouse and I flipped on the TV by my locker and put The Masters on. We all quickly changed into a pregame outfit, some guys wearing shorts over their spandex pants, others wearing game pants. The great thing about being at home is that we get to set the schedule pregame and do whatever we want. Burkie, our hitting coach, has made a schedule that allows us up to an hour of open cage time to get loose, then a full hour of on-field soft toss all before batting practice. Dane, BA and I went upstairs to the cage and hit for about 15 minutes inside to get loose before heading to the field for front toss. At 2 o’clock when we started there were 10 guys, so we split into two groups, lefties hitting first and the righties in the outfield retrieving the balls. I got the majority of my pregame work in during this on field session. I love being able to see the ball travel, and take mental notes of how my swing feels, how the wind is playing, even how the field itself is playing. I know it sounds like I’m searching for things to make this seemingly mundane pregame prep work seem more interesting but it really is invaluable both offensively and defensively. I get to see how the ball reacts in the air and on the ground, which can give me some hints about how I’ll need to position myself defensively during the game. We finished our soft toss session after chasing down the balls hit by the right-handed hitters, and I remember saying to Corey Adamson, our Australian outfielder, how lucky I felt to be running around chasing down baseballs.

It occurred to me as I took in the sight of our stadium decked out in Opening Day bunting that I am extremely blessed to call this my job, and to not have to be in Tuesday night classes like I was almost every semester at Stony Brook. We headed back inside to get ready for BP [batting practice], but I was asked to go do an interview for WFFT, the local Fox station. I ran back to the dugout, sat up on the top of the bench like all the Big Leaguers do it, and fielded questions about our road trip, team bonding and, of course, our Home Opener.

I hurried back inside to get ready for our team pregame, which started at 3:30. We stretched, ran the bases for conditioning, and then threw to get our arms loose. We took an “infield” (because it’s sacrilegious in pro ball to call it In and Out like we do in college) and then went back upstairs to the cages for batting practice, as the grounds crew didn’t want us to mess up the field with the inclement weather on its way. We hit for our usual 12-minute groups and then headed to the clubhouse for our pregame snack/meal. We had pulled pork as our hot meal item, and then the usual spread of peanut butter, jelly, fruit, yogurt and of course Oreos. I sat in my locker watching the NCAA Frozen Four game between Yale and UMass Lowell and eating before heading to the gym for a quick workout. BA and I knocked out our lift in about 25 minutes, and then headed back to our lockers to kill the rest of the pregame time.

When it was finally time to hit the field we were all pretty excited, we got to see our faces on the scoreboard and those awkward videos of us waving the bat in front of the camera for the lineup introductions.

Just before 7 o’clock we had our team introductions, jogging out to the first-base line and giving high fives to each other, just like you see on TV every year during the Big League openers. When Joe Ross was finally ready to go we hit the field. I immediately was blown away by how many people were at the game. It was foggy, rainy and cold, but somehow we had over 5,000 fans packed into the ballpark. Apparently we not only have the best ballpark in MiLB but we also have the best fans, so shout out to Fort Wayne for the support on Opening Night! Joe was dominant, and we put together enough offense to score 4 runs in the first 5 innings. I had a double in my second at bat, and it felt great to get the first one out of the way. It’s nice to show well on Opening Day so the crowd’s first impression of you as a player is positive. An “0 for” in your Home Opener is a great way to start pressing and to forget about the process of hitting.

The game lasted only 6 innings before being called on account of rain. We won 4-0 and snapped our 3-game losing streak. The only thing we had left to do was give away our red game jerseys to the fans that had won them. We all lined up in front of the dugout and proceeded to find the person or family with our number on their card. We shook hands, posed for pictures and autographed the jerseys, and then a few of us stuck around to sign for some kids that had stayed through the game and post-game. We signed hats, shirts, a bat and several baseballs before heading inside to get changed. We passed on eating in the clubhouse as Max’s dad had invited the four of us (roommates) out for dinner at Champions, a sports bar in the hotel we stayed at during our first three days in Fort Wayne. Finally, around midnight we got home and watched parts of the game on our DVR which I had set in the morning. It was really cool to watch a telecast of a game I played in, in my own apartment, on my own DVR.

Looking back on the evening I can’t even describe how cool it was to finally be a part of a true Opening Day ceremony. Getting to jog out to the line and high five teammates and then just take in the atmosphere was truly a cool experience. My other memory was of a conversation me and our SS Stephen Carmon had during the 4th inning. He remarked that he was impressed by the crowd on such a gross night weather-wise. That got me thinking, how awesome is it going to be when Parkview Field is absolutely packed out on a sunny July afternoon? I’ll have to wait for that dream to become reality, however, because once again I woke up and found that it is 39 degrees and cloudy. Oh well, a man can dream, right?

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Maxx Tissenbaum

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By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

One of the minor leagues’ most intriguing (and proudly Jewish) young players today is Maxx Tissenbaum, a 21-year-old prospect with the San Diego Padres. And not just because he’s a sure-handed infielder, tough out, and base-on-balls machine.

The switch-hitting Toronto native is an excellent writer, too. It’s our good fortune that Maxx has agreed to start blogging at Jewish Baseball News. As you can see from prior entries on his WordPress site, he offers a peek into the world of minor-league baseball that only a player can, and frequently .

Below is a short note to you from Maxx, plus his first blog entry. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did. If you do, please leave Maxx a comment and share his blog with a friend.# # #

By Maxx Tissenbaum/Special to Jewish Baseball News

Hi, I’m Maxx Tissenbaum and I’ll be posting here on Jewish Baseball News now, as I’ve been invited to share my stories with this new audience. I began keeping a blog last summer because my mother, Lisa Taerk, told me it would be a good way for me to keep track of the stories, memories and lessons learned along my journey through the Minor Leagues.

Baseball and Judaism have long been intertwined in my family and my life. I grew up going to synagogue during High Holidays knowing I would miss parts of all the playoff games I wanted to watch. I would sit with my Zidie, with all of his friends at our synagogue and after services we would discuss our favorite topic, baseball.

When it became time to celebrate my Bar Mitzvah, I figured there was no place on earth I’d rather have the reception than at a Blue Jays game, so technically speaking I had the 2004 Blue Jays and Yankees rosters celebrate with me and my family.

I was lucky enough to participate in a Maccabiah when I was 16, which was an experience I’ll never forget. The week we spent in Los Angeles was lots of fun, and a very cool way for me to connect my religion and baseball once again.

I’m currently playing in my first full professional season after being drafted by the San Diego Padres 345th overall (11th Round) in June. I currently play for the Fort Wayne TinCaps (Class A), where I actually am teammates with another Jewish Max, Max Fried. We have become good friends and his name will also pop up a lot in my writing as we live together in Fort Wayne.

I hope you enjoy reading my stories, and following this journey that I love so much! Feel free to comment on any of my posts and I’ll do my best to answer as quickly and thoroughly as I can!

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Maxx Tissenbaum’s blog (April 9, 2013)

The last two weeks have been an absolute whirlwind, between the end of Spring Training and the start of the regular season there are too many things for a person to actually process at one time. I’ve written this post from notes that I wrote myself either in my phone or on my Ipod because quiet frankly as the stories unfolded they changed, and changed again and then finally became something solid. That being said, bear with me if some of this seems like disjointed mumbo-jumbo.

As Spring Training drew to its final week we were reassigned to our likely Opening Day rosters. We began to play as a unit that would eventually fly north together to get a feel for each other on the diamond. Our team got a huge boost when Scooter (Stephen Carmon, from my Eugene team last summer) was taken off the rehab roster and given the go-ahead to participate in full. Scooter and I developed very solid chemistry last season and turned a lot of big double plays as the season wound down. I was really excited to have him back because knowing my shortstop’s tendencies becomes a major issue when a giant first baseman is barreling down on me as I try to turn two. We started talking half jokingly that we were going to try and break the league record for double plays turned. I say half jokingly because he is very sarcastic in his nature, and we’re both very confident in each other up the middle.

Then there were the last minute cuts, which obviously were a major bummer. Again, the last four days had proven to be a similar series of highs and lows. Guys we were pulling for to make our team going both ways, some making the team and others being reassigned to Extended Spring Training. We saw Ronnie Richardson, who lead us on so many huge comebacks last summer. slide off our roster, but he handled it like a true professional and I have no doubt that he’ll be up here soon doing his patented walk-off home run trot.

As this whole juggling act went on we began to form groups of players that would eventually become roommates once we arrived. I originally was going to live with Dane Phillips, Brian Adams and Scooter, but when Baltz got moved back to our team from the Lake Elsinore roster he had been playing with all spring, that changed. Rosters then began to dictate living arrangements. Matt Shepherd and I agreed to live together, and had talked to Matt Chabot from our Eugene team about joining us. When he was reassigned the plan changed again and we chose to get an apartment with Walker Weickel and Max Fried. We had all discussed rooming together earlier in the spring, and somehow had come full circle.

The last day of Spring Training we played a morning game against the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch and we got no-hit. The game seemed to be totally secondary as everyone seemed to be more focused on our flights north the next morning. We showered back at the complex and then emptied our lockers. The garbage cans were overflowing with half empty bags of sunflower seeds, empty cans of dip, old cleats, batting gloves and broken bats that had managed to stick around for locker room games. I went to sleep at 8:30 pm because we were scheduled to leave the hotel at 2:30 am for our 5:00 am flight. We flew in typical Minor League fashion, hopping between cities on connecting flights from Phoenix to Houston to Chicago and finally Fort Wayne.

We arrived in the middle of the afternoon and were told that the ballpark/clubhouse would be closed. As soon as Shepherd and I dropped off our bags we headed to the ballpark to walk around and take in our new home. To say the ballpark blew us away is the understatement of the century. Walking up to the center field gate we immediately were able to see our new stadium’s most notable feature. In right field there is a parking garage beyond the outfield seating, and built onto the side of the building is the scoreboard and a seating area called “The Treetops.” We each pulled out our cameras and began snapping pictures of everything.

I wish I knew how to post a bunch of pictures in an album because I have about 30 that really show every part of the ballpark, from its intricate angles in the outfield to the seating bowl and everything in between. We eventually made our way down to the dugout where we met up with Mallex Smith and Joe Ross. Right as we were about to leave, our trainer Ricky showed up to drop his stuff off in the “closed” clubhouse. We followed him into the clubhouse knowing it would be open for him and so we piled into the labyrinth beneath the stadium. We got our first glimpse of the locker room, weight room, players lounge and training room. We met AJ, who is our clubhouse manager, and got to discuss the important things like jersey numbers and pant sizes. We immediately got a good vibe from AJ, who was quickly joking around with Joe, picking up on stories from last year when Joe made his debut here. I picked a locker that would give me optimal access to one of the TV’s on the wall of the locker room. I avoided corner lockers, because as I found out last year they always become overcrowded. We threw some of our stuff that we had shipped to Fort Wayne into our lockers and then went back to the hotel for dinner. Our next few days consisted of practices, media day and an autograph session which were all a lot of fun. We got to do those TV introductions that the big league guys always do, staring into the camera and giving our best “Hi I’m ____ and this is Fort Wayne TinCaps baseball on Xfinity!” We goofed around like we always do when any of us is in front of a camera. Before we knew it we were packed and on the road for our first trip of the year.

Opening Day was in Michigan at the home of the Great Lakes Loons, the Class A affiliate of the Dodgers. We played a four-game series in freezing cold weather which included wind, rain and even a little bit of snow. We took the first three games, including one awesome 9th-inning comeback in which we went from down 2-0 to winning 6-2 in what seemed like a matter of 30 seconds. The final game was a bad one: we didn’t hit, pitch or defend the way we are clearly capable, and we got thumped pretty bad. The highlight of the series for me was having my Dad there to finally get to see me play in a professional uniform. When I signed, I immediately went to Arizona and then off to Oregon for the summer so I had never been anywhere close enough for him to make the trip. It was really cool for me to be able to leave him tickets at Will Call (even though I totally forgot the 2nd time to rewrite the pass list) and to have him see me play. It was interesting that just 5 years earlier we had stumbled across the exact stadium en route to a recruiting visit at Central Michigan University. Baseball has a funny way of writing stories that all end up tying together. This was a pretty special one for me, and I am incredibly thankful that he was able to come down for the weekend. Hopefully, next time the weather won’t be so awful and there might be a better crowd to have a little atmosphere.

We’re currently in Grand Rapids, Michigan, finishing up this 7-game road trip tomorrow night with another game against the West Michigan Whitecaps (Class A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers). We will then hop back on the bus and head home to Fort Wayne, where we open up our home schedule Thursday night at Parkview Field. I put a reminder in my phone to write every third day starting Friday, when I’ll recap our trip home and our Home Opener! Until then, it’s back to waiting out the rain here in Grand Rapids, as our middle game has been washed out for the day. Back at it tomorrow, Go TinCaps!

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By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Here are highlights from minor-league games played on Monday, April 8:

  • Toronto Blue Jays prospect Kevin Pillar, the 2012 Midwest League MVP, went 1/4 with a single, two walks, one RBI and a run scored (box score). Pillar plays for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
  • New York Mets prospect Josh Satin extended his torrid April pace, going 3/4 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored (box score). Satin, who plays for the Las Vegas 51s (AAA), is hitting .476 with one HR, two doubles, and 4 RBIs in 21 at-bats.
  • San Diego Padres prospect Maxx Tissenbaum didn’t get any hits, but he didn’t get any outs, either. Playing for the Fort Wayne Tin Caps (A), Tissenbaum walked four times and scored once (box score).
  • St. Louis Cardinals prospect Corey Baker still hasn’t allowed a run this season. In his third relief appearance for the Peoria Chiefs (A), Baker gave up two singles over two innings while striking out four and walking none (box score).
  • Danny Rosenbaum‘s first Triple-A start was a success. The Washington Nationals prospect pitched five shutout innings for the Syracuse Chiefs, yielding 4 singles and 2 walks while striking out two (box score).

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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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By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Jewish Baseball News, the website that brings you “News and stats on Jews with bats,” has selected the top Jewish minor-leaguers of the 2012 season.

Here are the award winners:

Rookie of the year

Jack Marder, 2B/C/LF, High Desert Mavericks (Seattle Mariners)

Most improved

Mauricio Tabachnik, P, Guerreros de Oaxaca (no MLB affiliation)

Comeback player

Jeremy Bleich, P, Tampa Yankees (New York Yankees)

Best starter

No winner

Best reliever

Jeff Urlaub, Stockton Ports (Oakland Athletics)

Power hitter

Nate Freiman, 1B, San Antonio Missions (San Diego Padres); obtained by the Houston Astros on 12/6/2012.

Most valuable player

Robbie Widlansky, DH/OF/1B, Bowie Baysox (Baltimore Orioles); obtained by the Los Angeles Angels on 12/6/2012.

Additional information on the award winners and runners-up is provided below.

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Detailed information

Rookie of the Year

Jack Marder, 22, made his minor-league debut in 2011. Because he had just 71 at-bats that year, Jewish Baseball News considers 2012 his “rookie” season. And what a season it was. The versatile 22-year-old hit .360, including .410 with runners in scoring position, and reached base 42.5 percent of the time. Marder had only 278 at-bats but still drilled 24 doubles, 4 triples, and 10 HRs, drove in 56 runs, and stole 16 bases in 22 attempts.

Honorable mention (in alphabetical order): Sean Bierman (Tampa Bay Rays), Jeremy Schaffer (St. Louis Cardinals), Maxx Tissenbaum (San Diego Padres)

Most improved

Mauricio Tabachnik, 23, spent three years in the San Diego Padres’ farm system before being released in 2011. A native of Mexico, he took his right arm to the Mexican League that year but did not impress. In addition to compiling a 5.36 ERA, he gave up an average of two walks and/or hits per inning and walked more batters (41) than he struck out (24). But Tabachnik was a different player in 2012, finishing 4-2 with a 3.18 ERA, more strikeouts (38) than walks (27), and giving up an average of five fewer hits and/or walks per nine innings.

Honorable mention: Richard Bleier (Texas Rangers), Cameron Selik (Washington Nationals)

Comeback player

Jeremy Bleich, 25, was a starting pitcher with the Trenton Thunder (AA) when he seriously hurt his shoulder in May 2010. It would be another two years before the former 1st-round draft pick would pitch again, this time as a reliever. Bleich’s 2012 comeback was impressive. He went 2-1 with a career-best 3.86 ERA, struck out 24 while walking just eight, and held opposing batters to a .242 average.

Honorable mention: Ryan Kalish (Boston Red Sox)

Best reliever

Jeff Urlaub, 25, finished the 2012 season with a winning record (7-6) and a 3.18 ERA, despite playing for two teams with losing records. He produced some eye-popping stats along the way, striking out a combined 58 batters while walking only 9, holding opposing teams to a .197 batting average, and allowing just 4 HRs in 65 innings.

Honorable mention: Corey Baker (St. Louis Cardinals), David Colvin (Seattle Mariners), Ian Kadish (Toronto Blue Jays)

Power hitter

Nate Freiman, 25, doesn’t just look imposing at the plate. The 6-foot-7-inch terrorized Texas League pitchers in 2012 with a career-high 24 HRs and a league-leading 105 RBIs. He didn’t sacrifice discipline, turning in a tidy .298 batting average and .370 on-base percentage. Later, Freiman brought his big bat to the World Baseball Classic, where he launched 4 HRs in 12 at-bats for Team Israel.

Honorable mention: Cody Decker (San Diego Padres)

Most valuable player

Robbie Widlansky, 28, helped the Bowie Baysox (AA) earn a playoff berth with the best performance of his 6-year professional career. He ranked among Eastern League leaders with a .316 batting average (3rd place), 83 RBIs (3rd), 35 doubles (2nd/tie), and a .404 on-base percentage (2nd). Widlansky also stole 11 bases, and his walk-to-strikeout ratio (64 to 74) was a career high.

Honorable mention: Joc Pederson (Los Angeles Dodgers), Nate Freiman (San Diego Padres)

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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 MLB.com 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 sbarancik@jewishbaseballnews.com.

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By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Major League teams drafted at least 13 Jewish amateurs in June and signed at least two undrafted players. Since then at least 10 have signed, pushing the current number of MOTs in the majors and minors to 65.

So who are the Fab 15? A complete list is included in the table below. Here are some other facts about them:

  • Nine of the 15 were selected out of college, and the remaining six from high school.
  • Four of the 15 decided to forego the pros temporarily in order to attend college. The only draftee we’re uncertain about is Macalester College alum Mitch Glasser. In a great interview with Rabbi Jeremy Fine, Glasser said he expected to sign with the White Sox and join the franchise in Spring 2013, but his status remains unconfirmed.
  • Baseball America ranked recent high-school grads Alex Bregman and Rhett Wiseman among the top 150 amateurs available in the 2012 draft but correctly predicted that both would choose to attend college now. The publication said scouts “love (Wiseman’s) athleticism and raw tools,” and it pointed out that Bregman broke New Mexico’s single-season high-school home run record last year with 18.
  • One recruit, Tampa Bay Rays prospect Sean Bierman, already has been promoted to Class A. Given the Rays’ reputation for finding bargains, it’s perhaps no surprise that Bierman received just $5,000 for signing.
  • Max Fried, an 18-year-old pitcher from Van Nuys, Calif., was the 7th overall pick in the June 2012 draft, making him the fifth-highest Jewish draft pick of all time. He also earned a tidy $3-million bonus. Baseball America calls him “cerebral and determined,” as well as a possible No. 1 or No. 2 starter in the majors.
 
Name (Pos)
DRAFTED BY (Round/Overall)
SIGNED?
CURRENT TEAM
1Max Fried (P)San Diego Padres (1/7)YesAZL Padres (Rookie)
2Jon Moscot (P)Cincinnati Reds (4/142)YesBillings Mustangs (Rookie)
3Sean Bierman (P)Tampa Bay Rays (10/332)YesBowling Green Hot Rods (A)
4Maxx Tissenbaum (2B)San Diego Padres (11/345)YesEugene Emeralds (A-short season)
5Eric Jaffe (P)Chicago White Sox (11/351)YesBristol White Sox (Rookie)
6Sam Kimmel (C)Baltimore Orioles (18/552)YesAberdeen Iron Birds (A-short season)
7Jeremy Schaffer (1B)St. Louis Cardinals (18/570)YesJohnson City Cardinals (Rookie)
8Jake Drossner (P)Chicago Cubs (23/704)NoUniv. of Maryland
9Rhett Wiseman (OF)Chicago Cubs (25/764)NoVanderbilt
10Alex Bregman (2B)Boston Red Sox (29/901)NoLSU
11Jacob Kapstein (P)Detroit Tigers (35/1084)YesGCL Tigers (Rookie)
12Max Ungar (C)Washington Nat'ls (36/1104)NoDenison Univ.
13Mitch Glasser (2B)Chicago White Sox (39/1191)UnknN.A.
14Jacob Booden (P)St. Louis Cardinals (undrafted)YesJohnson City Cardinals (Rookie)
15Tim Remes (C)Detroit Tigers (undrafted)YesConnecticut Tigers (A-short season)
Source: Jewish Baseball News, Jewish Sports Review, and reader input

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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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By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

We recently told you about two athletes who were selected in this year’s MLB amateur draft. The San Diego Padres picked up 18-year-old pitcher Max Fried in the 1st round (7th pick overall) and agreed earlier this month to pay him a $3-million bonus. The Chicago White Sox chose hometown boy Mitch Glasser in the 39th round (1,191st overall).

Though it’ll likely be weeks before all of the Jewish draftees have been identified, we are aware of at least four more. They are:

  • Jon Moscot, drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 4th round (142nd pick overall), signed for a $317,800 bonus. A 20-year-old pitcher out of Pepperdine University, the 6’4″ California native has been assigned to the rookie-league AZL Reds. Baseball America says he has a “chance to be a back-of-the-rotation starter in the big leagues.”
  • Jacob Kapstein, drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 35th round (1,084th overall), is an 18-year-old catcher out of Little Compton, R.I. He comes from a baseball family. His uncle Jeremy Kapstein is senior advisor for baseball projects for the Boston Red Sox. His brother Zach was drafted by the Red Sox in 2010 and currently plays for the Lowell Spinners (A-short season). Jacob has been assigned to the rookie-league GCL Tigers, where he is 1-for-2 with a double.
  • Maxx Tissenbaum, drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 11th round (345th pick oveall), signed for a $100,000 bonus. A 20-year-old Toronto native, he recently completed his junior year at SUNY-Stony Brook and helped the Seawolves reach the 2012 College World Series.
  • Jeremy Schaffer, drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 18th round (570th pick overall), recently switched from catcher to first base. A 22-year-old out of Tulane Univesity, he is assigned to the rookie-league Johnson City Cardinals, where he is batting .176 with 1 HR and 5 RBIs in 34 at-bats.

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By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Monday-morning blues be damned:

  • After crushing minor-league pitching during a 15-game rehab stint,  Ryan Kalish is back with the Boston Red Sox, and boy did he make a good entrance yesterday (6/17/2012). In his first big-league game since 2010, the 25-year-old outfielder broke up a 3-3 tie in the 7th inning with an RBI single, and the Sox went on to defeat the Chicago Cubs 7-4. He later scored on a suicide squeeze. Kudos to Ryan for his grit and courage in overcoming shoulder and neck surgery.
  • Texas Rangers fans recently were asked to name the franchise’s all-time greatest players in honor of its 40th anniversary. The top second baseman? Ian Kinsler, of course. Only two other active position players were named to the all-time squad: SS Michael Young, and reigning A.L. MVP Josh Hamilton. Kinsler is particularly popular among the younger set. Little Leaguers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area reportedly emulate the 29-year-old by pulling their socks up high.
  • After a season-long slump that had people speculating on a possible demotion, Ike Davis is hitting again. The New York Mets first baseman batted .478 over the past 8 games, contributing 1 HR, 7 RBIs, and 7 walks.
  • Jewish players had a bellwether day Saturday (6/16/2012). Of the 17 Major- and minor-leaguers who came to the plate, 16 got at least one hit, 10 had two or more hits,and together they collected a total of 3 HRs, 16 RBIs, and 7 walks in 67 at-bats.
  • It’s been a good couple weeks for Detroit Tigers prospect Ben Guez. A 25-year-old outfielder with the Toledo Mud Hens (AAA), Guez hit a grand-slam HR, gamely tried (and failed) to stretch a triple into an inside-the-park HR, hit 2 doubles in two consecutive games, and raised his average and on-base percentage in Toledo to .287 and .380, respectively.
  • Also on fire is Baltimore Orioles prospect Robbie Widlansky. An outfielder and designated hitter with the Bowie Baysox (AA), the 27-year-old batted .450 over his past 10 games and had hits in every one of them, along with 10 RBIs. Widansky’s 41 RBIs and 17 doubles are tied for 3rd highest in the Eastern League.
  • San Diego Padres prospect Nate Freiman, a 6’7″ slugger who leads the Texas League with 57 RBIs and is #2 in HRs with 15, is winning off the field, too. Freiman is engaged to marry fellow athlete and Duke University alum Amanda Blumenhurst, a professional golfer.
  • Two members of the Stony Brook University team that made an unlikely appearance at the 2012 College World Series are Jewish: Maxx Tissenbaum, a junior drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 11th round of this months’ draft, and freshman Steven Goldstein. Stony Brook was eliminated Sunday (6/17/2012) by Florida State University. Tissenbaum finished the season with a .390 average, 3 HRs, and 51 RBIs, second-highest on the team. Goldstein hit .337 with 4 HRs and 34 RBIs. He ranked second in stolen bases with 14.

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

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