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By Scott Barancik, editor

You had to rise at 4:30pm ET today to watch underdog Team Israel play Korea live in the 2017 World Baseball Classic opener, but seeing Israel triumph 2-1 in 10 innings was worth missing some sleep.

There were a few ulcer-inducing moments. Israel — which knocked out 8 hits and drew 10 walks — squandered multiple scoring opportunities, including leaving the bases loaded three times.

But the highlights were far more memorable.

Starting pitcher Jason Marquis, 38, got Israel off on the right foot with three scoreless innings, yielding 2 hits and a walk while fanning 3. He stayed below 50 pitches, which under WBC rules means he can pitch again in 2 days.

Sam Fuld was rock-solid in center field, including a diving catch in the 4th to rob Dae-Ho Lee of extra bases. He also contributed two sharply-hit singles while batting leadoff.

Second baseman Tyler Krieger drew a bases-loaded, full-count walk in the 2nd to put Israel up 1-0.

Ike Davis hit a pinch-hit double in the 8th inning, and his 9th-inning walk helped set up the winning run. After the base on balls, the not-fleet-of-foot Davis somehow hoofed it from first to third on catcher Ryan Lavarnway‘s soft liner to center. Mike Meyers came in as a pinch-runner and scored the go-ahead run two batters later.

Scotty Burcham, who starred for Israel in the September qualifiers, struck out three times but was stellar at shortstop and stroked two singles, including a two-out infield hit with a 1-2 count in the 10th that proved to be the game-winner.

Burcham, Krieger, and first baseman Nate Freiman completed two double plays together, including an inning-ending one with 2 men on base in the 6th inning.

With two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, the score tied 1-1, and a man on first, Lavarnway’s laser throw to second base erased a stolen-base attempt and sent the game into extra innings.

While Marquis opened the game with three scoreless innings, reliever Josh Zeid did the same at the end, yielding one hit and 2 walks while fanning 4, including a game-ending strikeout of slugger Dae-Ho Lee.

Israel plays Chinese Taipei tonight (Monday, March 6) at 10pm ET on the MLB Network cable station.

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By Scott Barancik, editor

The roster of players set to represent Israel in the World Baseball Classic in South Korea this March is taking shape.

Team Israel general manager Peter Kurz, whose squad of former Major League and current minor-league athletes guided Israel to a qualifying-round win in September, said Tuesday that 15 ballplayers had already committed to play in the main tournament in Seoul. The list includes:

  1. Ty Kelly, IF (New York Mets)
  2. Sam Fuld, OF (free agent)
  3. Jason Marquis, P (free agent)
  4. Ike Davis, 1B (free agent)
  5. Ryan Lavarnway, C (Oakland Athletics/minors)
  6. Cody Decker, IF (Milwaukee Brewers/minors)
  7. Josh Zeid, P (free agent)
  8. Nate Freiman, 1B (free agent)
  9. Tyler Krieger, IF (Cleveland Indians/minors)
  10. Nick Rickles, C (Washington Nationals/minors)
  11. Dean Kremer, P (Los Angeles Dodgers/minors)
  12. Corey Baker, P (St. Louis Cardinals/minors)
  13. Jeremy Bleich, P (free agent)
  14. Jake Kalish, P (Kansas City Royals/minors)
  15. Alex Katz, P (Chicago White Sox/minors)

Two key additions are Ty Kelly and Sam Fuld. During the qualifiers in September, Kelly was playing for the New York Mets, while Fuld, then with the Oakland Athletics, was on the disabled list. Also new are minor leaguers Tyler Krieger and Jake Kalish.

Roster spots have been offered to at least seven additional minor leaguers who played for Team Israel in September : Zach Borenstein (Arizona Diamondbacks), Brad Goldberg (Chicago White Sox), Blake Gailen (independent), Scotty Burcham (Colorado Rockies), Tyler Herron (New York Mets), R C Orlan (Washington Nationals), and Joey Wagman (Oakland Athletics). None has provided a final answer yet.

Kurz told Jewish Baseball News that Danny Valencia of the Seattle Mariners and Craig Breslow, who is seeking to return to the Major Leagues, are possible future additions to Israel’s roster. Team Israel also is pursuing Joc Pederson of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Jason Kipnis of the Cleveland Indians.

Several prominent pros politely declined Team Israel’s invitations due to injury, family commitments, Major League aspirations, or other concerns. They include Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers, Kevin Pillar and Scott Feldman of the Toronto Blue Jays, Richard Bleier of the New York Yankees, Jon Moscot of the Cincinnati Reds, and minor-league prospect and Ryan Sherriff of the St. Louis Cardinals. Sherriff played for Team Israel in the September qualifiers.

Alex Bregman of the Houston Astros and Ian Kinsler of the Detroit Tigers have committed to play for Team USA rather than Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic.

Under WBC rules, athletes can play on Team Israel as long as they are eligible for Israeli citizenship. That means having at least one Jewish grandparent or being married to someone Jewish. Nearly all the players on Israel’s roster personally identify as Jewish.

Earlier this month, eight players on the WBC roster visited Israel for a week to learn about the country, meet Israeli fans, and break ground on a new baseball stadium. MLB.com reporter Jonathan Mayo and Ironbound Films co-founder Jeremy Newberger plan to create a documentary about the trip, titled Heading Home.

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By Scott Barancik, Editor

Here are your minor-league highlights from the week of August 29 – September 4, 2016.

New additions

Jewish Baseball News welcomes three more players to its list of professional ballplayers. All three will play for Team Israel later this month in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers in Brooklyn.

  • Tyler Herron (Mets/AAA) is a 30-year-old right-hander out of Florida. Herron was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals out of high school in the 1st round of the 2005 amateur draft. The Mets are his fourth MLB franchise.
  • CF Braden Bishop (Mariners/High-A) is a 23-year-old California native who attended the University of Washington. Seattle drafted him in the 3rd round in 2015.
  • Troy Neiman (Rockies/High-A) is a 25-year-old right-hander out of California. Colorado signed the Cal-State Chico alum as an undrafted free agent in 2013.

Another player on the roster for Team Israel, CF Ty Kelly, was called-up by the Mets on September 1 and therefore is unlikely to be available for the WBC qualifiers. Although his mother was raised Jewish, Kelly does not identify as Jewish, so Jewish Baseball News does not track his statistics.

Jewish Baseball News Hitter of the Week

RF Rhett Wiseman (Nationals/A) hit .346 with 3 HRs, a double, 7 RBIs, and 2 stolen bases. He’s hitting .249 with 13 HRs, 25 doubles, 5 triples, 73 RBIs, and 18 stolen bases.

Jewish Baseball News Pitcher of the Week

P Rob Kaminsky (Indians/AA) earned 2 wins last week, pitching 7.1 innings of one-run ball on August 29, and 7 innings of 3-run ball on September 3. A 1st-round pick of the Cardinals in the 2013 draft, Kaminsky is 11-7 this season with a 3.28 ERA. He went 5-0 in August with a 1.78 ERA.

Other highlights

3B Scotty Burcham (Rockies/A) had a strong week, hitting .545 with a double, triple, 3 RBIs, 2 walks, and 2 stolen bases. The 2015 draftee had three multi-hit games, including one with 4 hits and another with 3.

1B Nate Freiman (Red Sox/AA) hit .273 with a home run, double, 5 RBIs, and 3 walks.

LF Zach Borenstein (Diamondbacks/AAA) hit .294 with 2 home runs and a double.

C Michael Barash (Angels/A), a 2016 draftee, went 4-for-10 with a home run, a walk, and 3 RBIs.

3B Mitchell Kranson (Twins/rookie), a 2016 draftee, went 3-for-5 on September 4 with 2 singles, a double, and 4 RBIs.

LF Mike Meyers (Red Sox/High-A) hit .333 with 2 doubles, a walk, 3 RBIs, and a stolen base.

C Garrett Stubbs (Astros/AA) hit .385 with 2 doubles, a walk, on RBI, and a stolen base.

In the first Triple-A start of his 8-year minor-league career, P Tyler Herron (Mets/AAA) earned a win September 1, giving up 2 earned runs on 3 hits and 3 walks over 6.2 innings while striking out 7.

P Corey Baker (Cardinals/AA) bounced back from a tough outing on August 30 to earn a win on September 4, pitching 5 shutout innings on 3 hits and 3 walks while striking out 2. Baker also went 1-for-2 at the plate.

P Dean Kremer (Dodgers/A), a 2016 draftee, held opponents scoreless in two separate 3-inning relief appearances, yielding a total of 2 hits and no walks while striking out 9. Since being promoted to Single-A, Kremer is 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA, yielding just 4 hits over 15.1 innings while striking out 22.

P Joey Wagman (Athletics/High-A) was near perfect in two relief appearances, yielding no hits and one walk across a combined 5 innings while striking out 8.

P Gabe Cramer threw 3 shutout innings over two appearances, yielding one hit and no walks while striking out 2.

P Max Fried (Braves/A) didn’t get a decision on September 3, but he did strike out 10 batters over 4.2 innings. It was his second consecutive 10-strikeout game.

P Brad Goldberg (White Sox/AAA) shut out his opponents in two one-inning relief appearances and earned his 10th save of the season.

P Raul Jacobson (Mets/A-short-season) pitched 6 shutout innings to earn a win on September 3, yielding 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 1.

Transactions

  • The Pirates promoted P Henry Hirsch to Double-A. It is his first time playing at that level.
  • The Mets promoted P Tyler Herron to Triple-A.
  • The Rays promoted P Kenny Rosenberg, a 2016 draftee, from the rookie Gulf Coast League to the rookie Appalachian League.
  • The Pirates released 23-year-old C Nate Irving, a 2014 draftee who hit .276 in 2015 but hasn’t played since then.
  • P Jake Drossner (Brewers/A) came off the disabled list.
  • LF Jake Thomas (Blue Jays/A) went on the disabled list.

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By Scott Barancik, Editor

Here are your minor-league highlights from the week of August 22-28, 2016.

New additions

Jewish Baseball News welcomes two more players to its list of professional ballplayers.

The first is P Joey Wagman (Athletics/High-A), a 25-year-old reliever out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. The second is 3B Scotty Burcham, a 23-year-old Sacramento State alum. Both are on Team Israel’s roster for the upcoming World Baseball Classific qualifying tournament in Brooklyn. Welcome, gentlemen!

Jewish Baseball News Hitter of the Week

1B Nate Freiman (Red Sox/AA) hit .273 with a home run, 3 doubles, 6 walks, and 9 RBIs last week. The highlight came August 24, when the former Oakland Athletic went 2-for-3 with two walks, an RBI double, and a three-run, walk-off bomb in the 9th inning (see video above). Freiman leads the Portland Sea Dogs with 55 RBIs.

Jewish Baseball News Pitcher of the Week

P Raul Jacobson (Mets/A-short-season) was dominant on August 23. In only his fourth start of the season, the second-year pro allowed just 3 hits and one earned run over 6 innings, walking none and striking out 8. Jacobson is 2-1 at the short-season level, with a 2.09 ERA, 2 saves in 2 chances, 41 strikeouts, and only 7 walks in 38.2 innings.

Other highlights

After being selected by the Marlins in the sixth-round of the 2015 draft, Marlins prospect Justin Cohen got off to a quick start last year, hitting .321 with 2 HRs and 12 RBIs in 56 at-bats before landing on the disabled list. Last week, the 19-year-old DH returned to the lineup after a hiatus of more than 12 months, going 4-for-15 with an RBI and two walks.

C Garrett Stubbs (Astros/AA) hit .313 with a double, triple, stolen base, and a walk. In 28 games since being promoted to Double-A, the 2015 draftee is hitting .318 with 4 HRs, 15 RBIs, a .398 on-base percentage, and .514 slugging percentage.

1B Jeremy Wolf (Mets/rookie) hit .258 last week with 2 doubles, a home run, 2 walks, and 6 RBIs. A 2016 draftee, he is hitting .291, and he leads the Kingsport Mets in HRs (4/tied), RBIs (31), and slugging percentage (.448).

In two six-inning starts last week, P Max Fried (Braves/A), Fried won one and lost one, yielding a total of 10 hits, 4 walks, and 6 earned runs. He also struck out 16 batters, including 10 alone on August 28. The 22-year-old has 102 strikeouts in 98.1 innings this season.

P Brandon Gold (Rockies/A-short-season), a 2016 draftee, pitched 3 shutout innings on August 26, yieldings 2 hits and no walks while striking out one.

P Brad Goldberg (White Sox/AAA) held opponents scoreless in two relief appearances, stretching his streak to 5. In 3 combined innings, he yielded one hit and one walk while striking out 4.

In four games since being promoted to Single-A, P Dean Kremer (Dodgers) is 2-0 with a 0.96 ERA. He has given up just 2 hits and 4 walks over 9.1 innings while striking out 13.

P Jared Lakind (Pirates/AA) was nearly perfect in three relief appearances, yielding just one hit and no walks while striking out 2 in a combined 4 innings.

Transactions

  • The Mets promoted P Josh Zeid to Triple-A.
  • The Marlins activated second-year DH Justin Cohen (rookie) from the disabled list
  • The Brewers activated C Tim Remes (A) from the disabled list.

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By Scott Barancik, Editor

Here are your minor-league updates from the week of August 8-14, 2016.

Jewish Baseball News Hitter of the Week

1B Cody Decker (Red Sox/AA) hit .333 last week with 3 HRs, 5 RBIs, and 2 walks. The highlight came August 10, when Decker went 3-for-6 with 2 HRs and 3 RBIs.

Jewish Baseball News Pitcher of the Week

In his first game since being promoted, P Alex Katz (White Sox/High-A) pitched 2.1 no-hit innings, yielding one walk and striking out 2.

Other highlights

1B Nate Freiman (Red Sox/AA) hit .400 with an RBI and a walk.

OF Adam Walton (Diamondbacks/A-short season), a 2016 signee, hit .273 with 3 doubles, 3 RBIs, and a walk.

OF Jeremy Wolf (Mets/rookie), a 2016 draftee, hit .350 with 2 doubles, 4 RBIs, and a walk. He ranks third on the Kingsport Mets with a .304 average, second with a .452 slugging percentage, and fourth with 21 RBIs.

In a 2.1-inning relief appearance August 11, P Brandon Gold (Rockies/rookie) yielded 2 hits and struck out 6. Gold has fanned 16 and walked just 2 over a combined 11.1 innings this season.

In two appearances, P Henry Hirsch (Pirates/High-A) yielded 2 hits and 2 walks over 4.1 innings while fanning 5. He also improved his season record to 6-3.

P Rob Kaminsky (Indians/AA) continues to improve, anchoring an 18-2 win on August 12 after yielding 7 hits and 2 earned runs over 6 innings while striking out 5. After going 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in April, Kaminsky has gone 0-0 with a 3.55 ERA in May, 1-3 with a 4.15 ERA in June, 3-2 with a 2.45 ERA in July, and 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA in August.

Since being reassigned from the rookie Appalachian League to the slightly less competitive rookie Gulf Coast League, 2016 draftee Kenny Rosenberg (Rays) has gone 1-0 with an 0.57 ERA, yielding 12 hits over 15.2 innings, walking just 3, and striking out 21, with a WHIP — walks and hits per innings — of just 0.89.

Transactions

  • P Dean Kremer (Dodgers) was promoted from rookie ball to Single-A.
  • P Alex Katz (White Sox) was promoted from Single-A to High-A.
  • P Max Fried (Braves/A) came off the disabled list.
  • P Josh Zeid (Mets) was reassigned from Triple-A to Double-A.
  • P Raul Jacobson (Mets) was reassigned from Single-A to A-short season.
  • 1B Ike Davis (Yankees/AAA) was released.
  • P Craig Breslow (Rangers/AAA) was released.

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By Scott Barancik, Editor

Here are your minor-league updates from the week of July 25-31, 2016.

Jewish Baseball News Player of the Week

LF Zach Borenstein (Diamondbacks/AAA) hit .600 last week with a home run, triple, 3 doubles, 4 RBIS, and a walk. This is his second straight Player of the Week award. In his first full season at Triple-A, the 26-year-old Illinois native is hitting .293 with 7 HRs, 4 triples, 21 doubles, 49 RBIs, and a .838 OPS.

Other highlights

CF Rhett Wiseman (Nationals/A) hit .333 with 2 HRs, a triple and a double, 7 RBIs, and 4 walks.

In his first full week since being promoted to Single-A, 2016 draftee Michael Barash (Angels) went 4-for-10 with a home run, double, and 3 RBIs.

OF Jeremy Wolf (Mets/rookie), a 31st-round draft pick in 2016, hit a scorching .615 last week with a triple, double, walk, 3 RBIs, and no strikeouts. He has a six-game hitting streak going.

C Dalton Blumenfeld (Angels/rookie) went 4-for-9 (.444) with a double, 5 RBIs, and a walk.

1B Nate Freiman (Red Sox/AA) hit .321 with 2 triples, 3 doubles, and 6 RBIs.

C Ryan Gold (Blue Jays/rookie), an 18-year-old draftee out of South Carolina, went 4-for-8 with two doubles.

After nearly a month on the disabled list, 2B Mason Katz (Cardinals/AA) went 2-for-4 on July 25 but then returned to the list. He is hitting .381 with 3 HRs and 7 RBIs in 42 Double-A at-bats this season.

P Gabe Cramer (Royals/A) pitched four no-hit innings over two appearances, striking out 5 and walking 3. He is 3-2 with a 2.48 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 29 innings.

In three relief appearances, P Scott Effross (Cubs/A) gave up just 2 hits and one walk over 5 innings while striking out 7 batters.

P Jake Fishman (Blue Jays/rookie), a 2016 draftee, earned his third straight perfect relief appearance last week. In his last three games, he has struck out 10 batters over a total of 6.2 innings while yielding no hits, walks, or runs.

In his last game before being promoted to Single-A, P Raul Jacobson (Mets) pitched 5 shutout innings, yielding just 2 hits and no walks while striking out 4.

P Kenny Rosenberg (Rays/rookie), a 2016 draftee, pitched 4 scoreless innings over two appearances, yielding 4 hits and a walk while striking out three. In 5 games with the GCL Rays, he is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 11 innings.

Transactions

C Michael Barash (Angels), a 2016 draftee, was promoted from rookie league to Single-A.

SS Alex Bregman (Astros) was called-up from Triple-A to the Majors.

P Raul Jacobson (Mets) was promoted from short-season to Single-A.

C Adam Sonabend (Giants/A) came off the disabled list after more than a month.

P Corey Baker (Cardinals) was demoted from Triple-A to Double-A.

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By Scott Barancik, Editor

Here are your minor-league updates from the week of June 27-July 3, 2016.

Jewish Baseball News Player of the Week

What an incredible week for SS Alex Bregman (Astros). Last year’s #2 overall draft pick homered and went 2-for-3 in the Texas League (AA) All-Star game. He was named to the U.S. roster for MLB’s All-Star Futures Game. He was promoted to Houston’s Triple-A club — and didn’t shrink from the challenge. Oh, no. Bregman went 4-for-5 with 3 RBIs and a walk in his first game with the Fresno Grizzlies. And in the next four games, he homered four times, including twice on July 4. (Yes, we’re cheating a bit here by counting Bregman’s play on July 4. Technically, that’s next week’s news.) All told, Bregman is 10-for-21 (.476) with 4 HRs, 2 doubles, eleven RBIs, and 2 walks since being promoted. Curiously, he’s played all of his Triple-A games at shortstop, even though the Astros had begun moving him to third base in order to speed his ascent to the Majors.

Debuts

Three draftees made their pro debuts last week.

Dodgers draftee Dean Kremer (P/rookie league), the first Israeli citizen to be drafted by an MLB team, started Sunday’s game for the Orem Owlz. He pitched 1.1 innings, yielding 2 hits, 2 walks, and 2 earned runs.

Blue Jays draftee Ryan Gold (C/rookie league), an 18-year-old from South Carolina, went 2-for-8 in his first four games, contributing a single, double, 2 walks, and an RBI.

Rays draftee Kenny Rosenberg (P/rookie league) made his pro debut on July 2, yielding 2 hits and an earned run over 2 innings.

Other highlights

Add one more player to the list of 2016 draftees: OF David Oppenheim of USC.

C Michael Barash (Angels/rookie league) hit .333 with 2 doubles and 3 RBIs. Since his debut, he’s thrown out three of 13 attempted base-stealers.

LF Zach Borenstein (Diamondbacks/AAA) raised his RBI total to 37, but he’s also working on his speed. The 25-year-old added three stolen bases last week to boost his 2016 total to 12, and he has yet to be tossed out. In 2015, Borenstein stole six bases in 10 attempts at the Double-A level and didn’t even try stealing in Triple-A.

P Craig Breslow (Marlins/AAA) has had a rough time since Miami demoted him earlier this season, going 0-for-3 with a 6.85 ERA, two blown saves in four chances, a .343 opponent batting average, and yielding nearly 2 hits/walks per inning. His very first appearance was a doozy: one inning, four hits, three earned runs. But Breslow has trimmed his ERA since then, and on Sunday, he was nearly perfect, yielding just one hit over 3 innings while striking out three.

1B Ike Davis (Yankees/AAA) hit a grand-slam HR in his first game after being sent back down to Triple-A.

Former major-league 1B Nate Freiman (Red Sox/AA) homered twice on July 1. Since signing a minor-league deal with Boston, he’s hitting .270 with a .347 on-base percentage and is leading the Portland Sea Dogs in home runs (8) and RBIs (31).

LF Mike Meyers (Red Sox/High-A) drove in four runs last week to boost his total to 41, second-highest on the Salem Red Sox. He has 16 stolen bases in 18 attempts.

C Nick Rickles (Nationals/AA) went 3-for-4 with a double, two singles, a walk, and an RBI on Sunday. In three games with the Harrisburg Senators, he’s hitting .455.

CF Rhett Wiseman (Nationals/A) didn’t hit for average last week (.231), but five of his six hits went for extra bases (2 HRs, 1 triple, 2 doubles) and he drove in 7 runs, boosting his season total to a team-high 44 RBIs (tied).

1B Jeremy Wolf (Mets/rookie league) went 4-for-5 on June 30 with a double, his first professional home run, and 4 RBIs.

P Max Fried (Braves/A) was masterful in a shutout start on June 29, yielding just 2 hits and 2 walks over 6 innings while striking out 9.

P Brad Goldberg (White Sox/AAA) racked up two more scoreless relief appearances, yielding a combined one walk and no hits over 2 innings while striking out 2. He has a 0.77 ERA over his last 10 appearances.

P Rob Kaminsky (Indians/AA) went 1-1 in two starts last week. In a combined 12.2 innings, he yielded 3 earned runs on 6 hits and 3 walks while striking out 13.

P Alex Katz (White Sox/A) held opponents scoreless in two relief appearances. He gave up one hit and no walks over 2.1 innings while striking out 2.

P Jared Lakind (Pittsburgh/AA) held opponents scoreless in two relief appearances, striking out 6 batters over 3 combined innings. For the season, he’s 3-0 with 5 saves in 6 chances, has a 1.74 ERA, 40 strikeouts in 41.1 innings, and has held opposing batters to a .190 average.

P R.C. Orlan (Nationals/High-A) held opponents scoreless three times. In 4 combined innings, he yielded one hit and three walks while striking out four.

Second-year P Jason Richman held opponents scoreless twice. In 2.1 combined innings, he yielded one hit and no walks while striking out one.

P Josh Zeid (Mets/AA) earned his second victory with a strong performance July 3, yielding just 2 hits and 3 walks over 7 innings while fanning 8.

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Mason Katz homers twice

Mason Katz homers twice (click for video)

By Scott Barancik, Editor

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

Jewish Baseball News Player of the Week

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

Debuts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other highlights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transactions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update

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

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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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By Scott Barancik, Editor

Here they are, your minor-league highlights from the week of April 18-24.

Borenstein’s streak

Diamondbacks Triple-A prospect Zach Borenstein is 5-for-9 in his last four games with a double, HR, walk, and 4 RBIs. His 12 RBIs (in 51 at-bats) rank 14th in the Pacific Coast League.

Goldberg’s promotion

Brad Goldberg, a 6-foot-4 reliever drafted by the White Sox in 2013, pitched a scoreless inning in his Triple-A debut on 4/23/2016. The proud Ohio State alum spent all of 2015 with Chicago’s High-A team, where he went 11-for-12 in save opportunities.

Bleier’s 2016 debut

Fresh off the disabled list, Yankees Triple-A prospect Richard Bleier made his season debut on April 2014, a 4-inning relief stint in which he yielded 6 hits and one earned run but walked nobody and struck out two.

Baker’s gem

Corey Baker, a starter with the Cardinals’ Double-A club, tossed an impressive shutout on April 23, yielding no walks and four hits over 6-and-a-third innings while striking out six. It was his second straight scoreless start and lowered his season ERA to 1.76.

Short hits

  • The Rockies acquired prospect Cody Decker from the Royals. In Albuquerque Isotopes (AAA) debut on April , he singled and doubled.
  • Washington released former Major Leaguer (and Team Israel star) Nate Freiman.
  • Ike Davis made his 2016 debut with the Rock Express (AAA) on 4/22/2016. In four plate appearances, he walked and hit a sacrifice fly.
  • Max Fried‘s promising return from Tommy John surgery was chronicled by MiLB.com. He is Atlanta’s No. 10 prospect.
  • Jeremy Bleich (Phillies/AA) and R.C. Orlan (Nationals/High-A) each record their first save of the season.

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most unleavenedBy Scott Barancik, Editor

As we munch matzoh on this sacred holiday of Pesach, some might wonder: Who are the most unleavened Jews in MLB history?

We looked into this scholarly question and found two men, each a compact 5-foot-4-inches. Not surprisingly, both played ball in the early 1900s, when men Jewish and not alike struggled to rise.

Jesse Baker

Born Michael Myron Silverman in 1895, Baker played just one unlucky game for the Washington Senators, in 1919. As Jewish Baseball Museum points out, he was spiked by the great but notoriously brutal Ty Cobb.

Reuben Ewing

Born Reuben Cohen in the Ukraine in 1899 — are you seeing a pattern here? — Ewing spent a week with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1921. He played under manager Branch Rickey and was teammates with Rogers Hornsby.

In case you’re wondering: the most leavened Jewish players in MLB history are former Oakland 1B Nate Freiman and former Astros and Rockies pitcher Jason Hirsh, who stand 6-foot-8-inches short.

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By Scott Barancik, editor

As baseball fans celebrate Opening Day, Jewish Baseball News is taking a look back at the 21 Jews who participated in MLB Spring Training this year.

Fifteen position players and six pitchers saw playing time, some as full-fledged team members, others as non-roster invitees, and several via short-term stints. Their stats are shown at the bottom; players who made their franchise’s Opening Day roster are shown in bold.

Following are some of the Spring’s top stories.

  • It will take a lot more for him to earn back some fans’ trust and affection, but Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun — fresh from a 65-game suspension for taking performance-enhancing drugs — dazzled, hitting .417 with nine RBIs and eight extra-base hits in 36 at-bats.
  • Ike Davis and Josh Satin both made the Mets’ Opening Day roster and will share First Base duties with Lucas Duda. But Davis — who squeaked by with a .241 average in Spring Training — is among the candidates to be sent down later this week to make room for Jon Niese.
  • Nate Freiman‘s 11 RBIs ranked eighth on the A’s, but it wasn’t enough to make the team’s Opening Day roster. Meanwhile, teammate Sam Fuld wowed his way onto the roster with four triples, 7 RBIs and a .348 on-base percentage.
  • With Boston’s Craig Breslow starting the season on the disabled list, Scott Feldman is the only Jewish pitcher to make an Opening Day roster. He also was the only Jewish starter during spring Training. As a group, Jewish pitchers went 1-and-5.
  • After missing much of the past three seasons with surgeries and injuries, former Boston Red Sox OF Ryan Kalish earned a spot on the Cubs’ Opening Day roster. Kalish hit .304 with 3 RBIs, stole 6 of 7 bases, and reached base 38.5% of the time.
  • Texas prospect Aaron Poreda earned some respect in his first MLB Spring Training since 2011. Poreda claimed one save in two chances, held opposing hitters to a .265 average, and walked just one batter over 8.1 innings.
  • Ian Kinsler, traded by Texas during the off-season for Detroit’s Cecil Fielder, outperformed “Big Daddy” with 3 HRs, 9 extra-based hits, 9 RBIs, a perfect 4-for-4 in stolen bases, a .300 average, and a .382 on-base percentage. Fielder matched Kinsler’s power (3 HRs, 9 extra-base hits, 10 RBIs) but hit .246 while striking out 16 times and drawing only two walks.
  • Ben Guez, a 27-year-old outfielder who spent part of the last four seasons with Detroit’s Triple-A club but has yet to be called up, made a brief but exciting splash in three Spring Training games. Against Toronto on 3/18/2014, Guez reached base all six times, going 3-for-3 with two doubles and three walks. His career MLB Spring Training average is a robust .529, along with a .692 on-base percentage.

 MLB Spring Training hitting, 2014

Team AB H 2B 3B HR RBI SB AVG OBP
Zach Borenstein LAA 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 NA 1.000
Ryan Braun MIL 36 15 5 0 3 9 0 .417 .500
Ike Davis NYM 29 7 2 0 2 7 0 .241 .313
Cody Decker SDP 10 3 1 0 1 4 0 .300 .417
Nate Freiman OAK 42 10 2 1 1 11 0 .238 .327
Sam Fuld OAK 59 16 1 4 1 7 1-1 .271 .348
Ben Guez DET 7 5 2 0 0 2 0-1 .714 .818
Ryan Kalish CHC 46 14 1 0 0 3 6-7 .304 .385
Ian Kinsler DET 60 18 5 1 3 9 4-4 .300 .382
Ryan Lavarnway BOS 38 11 1 0 2 5 0 .289 .357
Jake Lemmerman SDP 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .500
Joc Pederson LAD 38 7 1 0 3 6 0 .184 .311
Kevin Pillar TOR 33 5 1 1 0 4 0-1 .152 .176
Josh Satin NYM 50 13 2 0 1 4 0 .260 .333
Danny Valencia KCR 48 11 1 0 1 4 1-1 .229 .327

Notes: Zach Borenstein walked in his only plate appearance

MLB Spring Training pitching, 2014

Team W L ERA G IP H BB SO AVG WHIP
Jeremy Bleich NYY 0 0 9.00 1 1.0 2 0 0 .500 2.00
Scott Feldman HOU 0 2 5.40 4 16.2 21 2 14 .292 1.38
Aaron Poreda TEX 0 1 3.24 8 8.1 9 1 8 .265 1.20
Danny Rosenbaum WAS 0 1 2.70 3 3.1 3 2 2 .300 1.50
Jeff Urlaub OAK 1 1 8.10 4 3.1 4 2 1 .333 1.80
Josh Zeid HOU 0 0 4.15 7 8.2 12 4 12 .333 1.85

Notes: Aaron Poreda earned one save in two chances; Josh Zeid earned a save in his sole opportunity. Boston’s Craig Breslow did not play, due to injury

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By Scott Barancik, editor

Hollywood couldn’t have scripted Ryan Braun‘s return from disgrace any better.

In his first at-bat since completing a 65-game suspension, the presumably drug-free Milwaukee Brewer smashed an 0-1 pitch off Oakland A’s pitcher Tommy Milone over the left-field wall (see video). “It’s still the first day of spring training,” Braun told USA Today. “Better to hit the ball hard then to strike out.”

Naturally, hecklers and jokesters were in attendance. One wore an A’s hat emblazoned with the phrase “MVP-E-D,” a conflation of Braun’s 2011 MVP award and his use performance-enhancing drugs.

In a switch aimed at making room for second-year outfielder Khris Davis, left fielder Braun played right field for the first time in his MLB career, a span that includes 944 regular-season games.

The Brewers faced off against the Oakland A’s, whose lineup featured 1B Nate Freiman (0-for-2) and Sam Fuld (0-for-2).

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By Scott Barancik, editor

For some Jewish baseball fans, Yom Kippur isn’t just the holiest day on the calendar. It’s also a litmus test of a ballplayer’s commitment to Judaism.

That’s not so true here at Jewish Baseball News, a secular website that holds no grudge against a ballplayer for choosing to swing a bat during the High Holidays (although we take pride when a player like Sandy Koufax or Shawn Green elects to pray rather than play).

Some players find ways to bridge the gap. Consider reliever Craig Breslow, who told Boston’s Jewish Journal:

“In previous years, I have participated in online Passover seders and High Holy Day services, and have fasted as best as I could, even on game days. ‘Typically, I try to observe the holidays in a way that is meaningful to me and indicative of my commitment to Judaism, but also honors and acknowledges the commitment that I have made to my teammates.”

So without further ado, here’s a breakdown of who played last night, and who didn’t.

Played

Six Jewish major leaguers played last night, and five of them emerged victorious:

  1. Nate Freiman, Oakland A’s.Went 1-for-2. Result: defeated the Texas Rangers.
  2. Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers. Went 0-for-2 but drew three walks, drove in a run, and scored 2 more. Result: lost to the Oakland A’s.
  3. Danny Valencia, Baltimore Orioles. Went 1-for-4 with an RBI single. Result: defeated the Toronto Blue Jays.
  4. Craig Breslow, Boston Red Sox. Of the three batters faced, struck out one, walked another, and gave up a two-run double, leading to a blown save. Result: defeated the New York Yankees.
  5. Josh Zeid, Houston Astros. Pitched a scoreless 8th inning, giving up a walk and a hit but no runs, and earning a hold. Result: defeated the Los Angeles Angels.
  6. Sam Fuld, Tampa Bay Rays. Was brought in as a defensive replacement in the 9th inning. Result: defeated the Minnesota Twins.

Did not play, for one reason or another 

Four major leaguers didn’t play last night even though their teams did, and three of the teams won anyway. With the exception of Baltimore’s Scott Feldman, Baylawsuits doesn’t know whether it was the players’ decision not to play or their managers’.

  1. Scott Feldman, Baltimore Orioles. A member of the team’s starting rotation, he’d pitched 2 days earlier. Result: defeated the Toronto Blue Jays.
  2. Ryan Lavarnway, Boston Red Sox. A back-up catcher, he hasn’t played since Sept. 7. Result: defeated the New York Yankees.
  3. Kevin Pillar, Toronto Blue Jays. A back-up outfielder, he’d started seven of his team’s past 10 games and played part of one other. Result: lost to the Baltimore Orioles.
  4. Josh Satin, New York Mets. A versatile infielder, he’d started six of his team’s past 10 games and played parts of two others. Result: defeated the Miami Marlins.

Unable to play

Four players were on the disabled list, and one was on suspension for violating baseball’s anti-drug policy.

  1. Ike Davis, New York Mets. On disabled list.
  2. Ryan Kalish, Boston Red Sox. On disabled list.
  3. Jason Marquis, San Diego Padres. On disabled list.
  4. Kevin Youkilis, New York Yankees. On disabled list.
  5. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers. Suspended.

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By Scott Barancik, editor


Eye color is not the first thing one notices about Oakland A’s rookie Nate Freiman. Does he part his hair on the left, or the right? No clue.

The first thing every teammate, scout, agent, sportswriter, and fan observes about Freiman (pronounced ‘FRY-men’) is his height. The 26-year-old first baseman stands 6-foot-8-inches above street level, unusually tall for a pro baseball player, and even more so for a non-pitcher.

Nate Freiman exchanging high-fives with teammates (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America)

How unusual, exactly? Jewish Baseball News conducted a search of all non-pitchers who’ve played Major League ball since 1901. And here’s what we found: Nate Freiman isn’t just “tall.” The man dubbed “Green Giant” by one wag is the tallest in baseball history, tied with retired first baseman Tony Parker.

Here’s a table showing the 10 biggest position players in MLB history. Interestingly, two of the 10 are brothers, and the highest career batting average among them is a modest .273.

Rk Player Ht From To BA SLG Tm
1 Nate Freiman 80 2013 2013 .273 .404 OAK
2 Tony Clark 80 1995 2009 .262 .485 DET-BOS-NYM-NYY-TOT-ARI
3 Joel Guzman 79 2006 2007 .232 .321 LAD-TBD
4 Damon Minor 79 2000 2004 .232 .400 SFG
5 Ryan Minor 79 1998 2001 .177 .259 BAL-MON
6 Billy Ashley 79 1992 1998 .233 .409 LAD-BOS
7 Desi Wilson 79 1996 1996 .271 .339 SFG
8 Frank Howard 79 1958 1973 .273 .499 LAD-WSA-TOT-DET
9 Walt Bond 79 1960 1967 .256 .410 CLE-HOU-MIN
10 Ron Jackson 79 1954 1960 .245 .395 CHW-BOS
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/23/2013.

Why does it matter? It doesn’t, really. And odds are, Freiman would like to go down in baseball history for more than a genetic gift. Hopefully he will.

But baseball is a statistics-mad sport. As long as we find it necessary to cite the obvious fact of Freiman’s height, let’s call him the tallest, not just “tall.”

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By Scott Barancik, editor

Cody Decker is many things, but “average” is not one of them. Neither is “normal.” That seems to suit the 26-year-old San Diego Padres prospect just fine.

The southern California native  played a lead role in The Music Man and other productions in high school. A Dr. Who fan, he watches movies around the clock, poses for photos as his favorite characters (see pics below), and tends bar during the off-season. A constant barrage of clever one-liners has earned Decker more than 16,000 Twitter followers, an almost unheard-of number for a Minor League player.

Padres prospect <a href=

Cody Decker, in superhero pose (c/o Cody Decker)" src="http://www.jewishbaseballnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Decker-diving-for-ball.jpg" width="614" height="407" /> Padres prospect Cody Decker, in superhero pose (photo courtesy Cody Decker)

He also plays a little baseball. Before joining Team Israel for last year’s World Baseball Classic qualifiers, the 5-foot-11-inch, 220-pound slugger hit 29 home runs, the second-most  among all Padres prospects. Twenty-five of them came with the San Antonio Missions (AA), where he and Jewish teammate Nate Freiman (24 HRs) terrorized opposing pitchers.

Jewish Baseball News recently e-mailed Decker a handful of questions. He’re how the UCLA alum responded.

JBN: According to Baseball America, you were the lead in a school play your senior year of high school and had to quickly change into baseball gear after one performance in order to get to a game on time. Is that true? And if so, what was the play?

Decker as Magnum P.I.

Decker: I was in every play in high school. Starred in several. As for getting to the game on time, it was the other way around. Had a crowd of 1,200 at the theater, but my game went into extras. The second the game ended, had to sprint to the theater to get into wardrobe and get into character. The show [The Music Man] opened 45 minutes late.

JBN: Were you the inspiration for High School Musical? 

Decker: Doubtful, but yes….

JBN: True or false: you recently let your Twitter followers pick your walk-up song from a list you’d created, and they chose the theme song from the British television show Dr. Who.

Decker: True.

JBN: Do fans look at you funny when the song comes on?

Decker as Prince

Decker as Prince

Decker: I’m too busy getting all charged up by the song to notice.

JBN: In your first four seasons of Minor League ball, you played nearly every game either at First Base or in the outfield. Last month (4/21/2013), you played catcher for the first time. Is this something we should expect to see more of?

Decker: Yes. [Editor’s note: Padres staff recently decided to try Decker out at catcher after seeing him work a bullpen session.]

JBN: You’re 5-foot-11-inches tall. With the exception of Prince Fielder, who’s also 5’11”, all current Major League first basemen are taller. Is your height a disadvantage at that position?

Decker: So I’m told…. But I’ve yet to see any proof of that.

JBN: Last year, you and San Antonio Missions (AA) teammate Nate Freiman were among Texas League leaders in home runs with 25 and 24, respectively. Did you feel like Jewish superheroes?

Decker: We were Jewish superheroes…..We still are.

JBN: You played for Team Israel in 2012. What was it like to play with a whole team of Jews?

Decker: Best baseball experience of my life. It was a special bond we all had.

JBN: You have more than 16,000 Twitter followers, far above than the average Minor League. Your unique sense of humor has a lot to do with it. Are you just clever, or did someone accidentally swing a bat at your head when you were young?

Decker: Both?

JBN: During the off-season, you’ve been known to tend bar. What’s your favorite drink to make, and your favorite one to imbibe?

Decker: I enjoyed making an Old Fashioned…. The problem was I was the only one that would order it. I hated making shots.

Decker in “Bane” mask

JBN: According to your Tweets, you love watching movies. What is the dumbest baseball movie ever made?

Decker: Toss up between The Slugger’s Wife and The Rookie…. Both unwatchable.

JBN: Of the thousands of websites following Jewish baseball players, which one is the most fabulous?

Decker: There are other websites following Jewish baseball players?

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xxx Freiman hits his first MLB home run, a 3-run shot off xxx Bedard of the Houston Astros (photo courtesy of mlb.com)

Nate Freiman hits his first MLB home run, a 3-run shot off Erik Bedard of the Houston Astros (video still courtesy of mlb.com)

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By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

It took Oakland A’s rookie Nate Freiman just 14 MLB at-bats to smash his first home run (see video), a 3-run shot off Houston Astros starter Erik Bedard that landed in the upper-level left-field bleachers before a cheering hometown crowd on Monday (4/15/2013).

ESPN’s Home Run Tracker estimated the ball traveled 396 feet. The A’s went on to defeat the Astros in a lopsided 11-2 win.

Freiman said hitting the home run was an “amazing feeling” but that the day was “bittersweet,” given the explosions that marred Monday’s running of the Boston Marathon. The 26-year-old first baseman grew up in nearby Wellesley, Mass., where many family members remain.

A’s manager Bob Melvin praised Freiman after the game, according to MLB.com. “He’s produced for us, and it’s in limited action, which is really difficult for a younger player,” Melvin said. “He works really hard. It’s awfully rewarding to see a guy come up with a big hit like that, and against a former club too. To get his first home run and it be the big blow of the game really, I’m sure he’ll go home with a smile on his face tonight.”

After the 2012 season, Jewish Baseball News named Freiman the top minor-league power hitter. The Astros acquired him in December’s Rule 5 draft, months after the 6-foot-8-inch slugger starred with Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers. But when the Astros placed Freiman on waivers in March, Oakland grabbed him. He opened the 2013 season on the A’s roster but has seen limited action, serving Monday as designated hitter. Interestingly, the A’s are 6-1 in games where Freiman has played, and 4-3 otherwise.

Freiman’s homer off former teammate Bedard came on a 1-2 count. After seeing three fastballs, he crushed the next pitch, a 73 mph curveball. Security persuaded a fan to give up the home-run ball in exchange for one signed by Freiman (see video).

Oakland is scheduled to play Houston again tonight (4/16/2013) at 10:05 pm ET.

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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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Nate Freiman (mlb.com)

Nate Freiman (mlb.com)

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By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Nate Freiman has made the opening-day roster of the Oakland A’s.

The 26-year-old slugger told the San Francisco Chronicle he was “shaking” when A’s manager Bob Melvin let him know during batting practice. He is expected to platoon at first base along with 7-year MLB veteran Brandon Moss.

The assignment caps a dizzying off-season for Freiman. After starring with Team Israel in September’s World Baseball Classic qualifiers, he was acquired by the Houston Astros in December’s Rule 5 draft after the San Diego Padres left him unprotected. The A’s picked him up last week after Houston placed him on waivers.

Despite hitting .241 with 11 strikeouts and only one walk during a Spring Training split between Houston and Oakland, Freiman was characteristically productive at the plate, driving in 9 runs in 54 at-bats.

That Freiman made the Majors without playing a single game of Triple-A ball is unusual. He hit .298 with 24 HRs, 105 RBIs, and a .370 on-base percentage last season for the San Diego Padres’ double-A team.

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