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Browsing Posts tagged Richard Bleier

By Scott Barancik, editor

With Team Israel’s surprising run at the World Baseball Championship behind us, Jewish Baseball News turns to that beloved annual rite: Spring Training.

A total of 19 Jewish players were invited to MLB Spring Training camps this year, either as part of their teams’ active roster, 40-man roster, or non-roster invitee list. Here is how they’re doing through games played March 17.

Danny Valencia (Mariners)

  • In the first Spring Training with his new team, 32-year-old Valencia is hitting .184 with 1 HR, 3 RBIs, and 5 walks in 38 at-bats. Although he’s a career .321 hitter against righties (and .246 vs. lefties), he has struggled equally against both so far.
  • Seattle has Valencia playing first base almost exclusively. Last season with Oakland, Valencia had no errors at first base, one in the outfield, and 13 at third base.

Richard Bleier (Orioles)

  • Traded to Baltimore by the Yankees last month, Bleier has performed well this Spring, delivering a 1.50 ERA across four outings and six innings overall, and yielding six hits and one walk while fanning four.
  • Bleier is among several pitchers still fighting for a spot in the Orioles’ bullpen.

Max Fried (Braves/minors)

  • A 1st-round draft pick of the San Diego Padres in 2012, Fried — who missed the entire 2015 season due to Tommy John surgery — was impressive in his first MLB Spring Training, yielding a hit and three walks in three outings (and four innings overall) while striking out five.
  • Atlanta not only has promoted Fried to Double-A but added him to the Braves’ 40-man roster, meaning he will be eligible for call-up during the regular season.

Ryan Braun (Brewers)

  • Braun has seen limited action in Spring Training, going 3-for-11 with a HR, double, three RBIs and a walk while striking out three times. Nevertheless, the 33-year-old has remained something of a lightning rod for criticism, most recently for his complaints that Spring Training lasts too long.

Kevin Pillar (Blue Jays)

  • Pillar has been hot this Spring, hitting .355 with six extra-base hits, one RBI, and a .444 on-base percentage. He’s also been batting leadoff, a privilege largely denied him in past seasons due to a dearth of walks.
  • In prior Springs, Pillar’s average has ranged from .111 to .264.

Rowdy Tellez (Blue Jays/minors)

  • A non-roster invitee with a reputation for power — he hit .297 with 23 HRs last season at Double-A — Tellez has hit .259 this Spring with no home runs, two doubles, two RBIs, four walks, and 10 strikeouts.
  • No word yet on which minor-league team Tellez will be sent to after Spring Training ends.

Brad Goldberg (White Sox/minors)

  • In addition to playing for Team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Championship, Goldberg pitched well for Chicago during Spring Training. In four appearances and 4.2 innings overall, he delivered a 0.00 ERA and earned a save while yielding two walks a hit and striking out one.
  • Earlier this week, the White Sox sent Goldberg back to Triple-A but placed him on the Major League club’s 40-man roster. He’s likely to make his MLB debut this season.

Ian Kinsler (Tigers)

  • Normally a strong Spring Training performer — through games played March 17, his career average was .328 with 30 HRs and 117 RBIs — Kinsler has hit .263 this year, with one HR and one RBI in 19 at-bats.
  • Kinsler also has played for Team USA in the WBC, hitting .294 in 17 at-bats.

Craig Breslow (Twins/minors)

  • Breslow, who has adjusted his pitching form in a data-driven bid to revive his stalled career, earned a minor-league contract with the Twins and an invitation to Spring Training. So far, so good: in five appearances and 4.1 innings overall, Breslow has yielded no earned runs and just one hit while striking out four. On the down side, he’s walked five.
  • Breslow is likely to begin the 2017 regular season in Triple-A.

Alex Bregman (Astros)

  • In addition to playing for Team USA in the WBC, Bregman has hit .304 in Spring Training, stroking two doubles and a walk while striking out once in 23 at-bats.

Garrett Stubbs (Astros/minors)

  • A non-roster invitee who hit a combined .304 in High-A and Double-A last season, Stubbs didn’t get a chance to play with Houston this Spring due to a problem with his throwing arm. He was later assigned to minor-league camp, but manager A.J Hinch said the Astros were “excited” about Stubbs, whom he called “really good behind the plate.”

Michael Barash (Angels/minors)

  • Barash, a 2016 draft pick, was perhaps the most unlikely non-roster invitee this Spring, having topped out at Single-A his rookie season (and hitting .240 there after batting .314 in rookie-league ball). The 22-year-old catcher went a perfect 2-for-2 with the Angels, singling and doubling in two pinch-hit at-bats.

Ryan Lavarnway (Athletics/minors)

  • Despite a non-roster invite, former major leaguer Lavarnway has seen limited play during Spring Training, having instead spent his time starring for Team Israel in the WBC. The 6’4″ catcher went 2-for-3 with a double for the Athletics before joining Team Israel.

Scott Feldman (Reds)

  • Signed to a one-year deal during the offseason, the 34-year-old Feldman is 0-1 this Spring with a 4.50 ERA. In eight innings spread across the starts, he’s yielded seven hits (including 3 HRs) and two walks while striking out seven.
  • Feldman has secured a spot as a starter in Cincinnati’s rotation and might start the team’s Opening Day game.

Jared Lakind (Pittsburgh/minors)

  • A non-roster invitee, Lakind has recorded one save this Spring and held opponents scoreless over three relief appearances. He has yielded two walks and two hits over three total innings while striking out two.
  • Lakind also played for Team Israel in the WBC.

Corey Baker (Cardinals/minors)

  • A non-roster invitee, Baker made his MLB Spring Training debut before playing for Team Israel in the WBC. In a 2.2-inning relief stint, he gave up 2 hits and a hit batsman but struck out one and yielded no runs.

Ryan Sherriff (Cardinals/minors)

  • A non-roster invitee, Sherriff has made the most of his first MLB Spring Training, going 0-1 with a 1.35 in six appearances and 6.2 innings overall. The 28th-round 2011 draft pick yielded six hits and one walk while hitting one batter and striking out an impressive eight.

Joc Pederson (Dodgers)

  • In a familiar pattern, Joc Pederson is hitting .242 this Spring with both a lot of home runs (4) and a lot of strikeouts (10). But that’s not giving him credit for advances he made in 2016, his second full season in the Majors. Pederson raised his batting average 36 points last year (to .246) while reducing his strikeouts, hitting more doubles, and slightly improving his home-run frequency.

Ike Davis (Dodgers/minors)

  • Davis, a former major leaguer who signed a minor-league contract with Los Angeles during the offseason, went 2-for-2 as a non-roster invitee before joining Team Israel in the WBC. He has been assigned to the Dodgers’ Triple-A team.

Ty Kelly (Mets/minors)

  • Kelly, who played for Team Israel in the WBC but does not identify exclusively as Jewish, is 2-for-8 this Spring with two RBIs and a .500 on-base percentage. He made his MLB debut in 2016.

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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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bregman astros mugBy Scott Barancik, Editor

Scarcely a year after being drafted by the Houston Astros, red-hot prospect Alex Bregman is being called-up to the Majors. He is expected to make his MLB debut tonight against the Yankees in New York.

A 22-year-old shortstop from Albuquerque, NM, Bregman has made quick work of the minors. After hitting a combined .294 last season with 4 HRs and 34 RBIs in Class A and High-A ball, in 2016 he’s added power, hitting a combined .306 with 20 HRs, 61 RBIs, and a .986 OPS, second-base among all full-season minor-leaguers. Bregman walks more than he strikes out, runs the bases intelligently, can play both shortstop and third base, and has confidence to spare.

It’s no wonder Minor League Baseball recently named him the top offensive player at midseason among all pro prospects. Bregman also has shined in showcase games, falling a home run short of the cycle in the All-Star Futures Games this month and going 2-for-3 in the Texas League All-Star Game. In his first game at Triple-A, he went 4-for-5 with 3 RBIs and a walk.

“It’s a dream come true,” Bregman told MLB.com about the call-up. “And I’m ready to go work, keep my mouth shut and hopefully help contribute.”

With teammate Jose Altuve well settled at shortstop, Bregman is expected to get playing time at third base, left field, and as designated hitter. MLB.com columnist Jim Callis enthused about the LSU alum yesterday:

“Wherever he plays, Bregman is equipped to be a star. There’s no weakness in his offensive game, as he has outstanding bat speed from the right side of the plate and has complete control of the strike zone. He barrels balls consistently, and since he has made an adjustment to attack and turn on pitches on the inner half of the plate since turning pro, he could hit 25 homers per season.

Though he has elicited comparisons to Dustin Pedroia for years because he has similar size and plays with the same chip on his shoulder, Bregman has more speed and defensive versatility. He’s an average runner with excellent instincts on the bases. He’s capable of playing at least an average shortstop, and his solid arm and gift for anticipating plays could make him a plus defender at third base.”

Bregman is the second Jewish player to get a call-up this season. In May, the New York Yankees called up P Richard Bleier, who had spent, by comparison, a biblically long nine seasons in the minors.

Bregman will be the second Jewish player on Houston’s 25-man roster, joining veteran hurler Scott Feldman. Of all 1,215 players drafted in 2015, he will be the first position player (and third player overall) to reach the Majors.

The Astros play the Yankees tonight at 8:10 ET, with Houston’s Dallas Keuchel facing Michael Pineda. Houston (54-44) is in second place in the A.L. West, 2.5 games behind Texas.

 

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ike davis yankees mugBy Scott Barancik, Editor

For the second times in 18 days, the New York Yankees have added a Jewish player to their roster.

Ike Davis, a first baseman who began his Major League career with the crosstown New York Mets in 2010 and also played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Oakland A’s, signed with the Yankees today and was assigned to the franchise’s 25-man roster. The Yankees currently have four first basemen on the disabled list.

The 29-year-old Davis had been playing for the Texas Rangers’ Triple-A team, where he showed great resilience after starting the season 0-for-22. Since then, Davis has hit .317 with 4 HRs and 25 RBIs.

On May 26, the Yankees called up P Richard Bleier. Also 29, he has held opposing batters scoreless in all four relief appearances.

The Yankees are off today and are scheduled to play the Colorado Rockies tomorrow night in Denver.

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Richard Bleier

(MLB.com)

By Scott Barancik, Editor

He tossed only three pitches off the mound at Toronto’s Rogers Centre today, but for Yankees rookie Richard Bleier, it probably felt like 300.

The 29-year-old southpaw entered the game with one out in the bottom of the 8th inning and quickly put the Blue Jays to bed, forcing Michael Sanders to ground out on an 0-1 fastball and inducing Justin Smoak to ground out on the first pitch he saw.

Three pitches, three strikes, two outs, and a Major League debut in the books. Never mind that the Yankees lost, 4-2.

Bleier is the 10th Jewish player in the Majors this season.

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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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bleier yankees mugBy Scott Barancik, Editor

After toiling nine years in the minor leagues, Richard Bleier finally got The Call today.

A 29-year-old southpaw and Team Israel alum, Bleier was promoted by the New York Yankees. He is a starter by trade but most likely will debut in the bullpen.

The Texas Rangers selected Bleier in the sixth round of the 2008 draft. He stayed in the team’s farm system through 2013, was claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2014, and signed a free-agent deal with the Washington Nationals in the offseason.

Bleier’s year with the Nationals marked his breakout. Splitting the season between Double-A and Triple-A, the 6’3″, 215-pounder went a combined 14-5 with a 2.47 ERA and a pithy 0.8 walks allowed per nine innings.

Since joining the Yankees’ Triple-A club this season, Bleier is 2-2 with a 2.57 ERA and 1.17 walks/hits allowed per inning.

At 29, Bleier will be among the oldest players to make their MLB debut this season. He also will be this season’s 10th Jewish major leaguer.

Bleier’s father, a Brooklyn native who grew up cheering for the Yankees, told the Fort-Myers News-Press that the call-up was a “dream come true.”

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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 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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Richard Bleier

Richard Bleier (MiLB.com)

By Scott Barancik, editor

On Tuesday, Major League teams can expand their rosters from 25 players to 40, an annual September ritual that allows top prospects a chance to take a swing at the big time.

Although there are no guarantees, two Jewish pitchers might make the leap.

One is Washington Nationals farmhand Richard Bleier, a starter for the Syracuse Chiefs (AAA). A late bloomer, Bleier is enjoying his best season yet in the minors. The 6’3″ southpaw and Team Israel alum has gone a combined 14-5 with a 2.63 ERA this season for the Chiefs and the Harrisburg Senators (AA). Just this week he was named the Eastern League’s (AA) best left-handed starter.

Zack Weiss

Zack Weiss (MiLB.com)

Cincinnati Reds prospect Zack Weiss may be more of a longshot. The 6’3″ righthander hasn’t reached Triple-A yet, having split the 2015 season between the Daytona Tortugas (High-A) and, since May 6, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos (AA). But Weiss has swiftly established himself as one of the country’s premier closers. Through games played Aug. 29, Weiss was 1-3 with a 2.10 ERA, had 83 strikeouts in 60 innings, and earned 29 saves — No. 2 among 4,774 minor-league pitchers. And he keeps getting better: so far this month, Weiss is sporting a 0.60 ERA with 11 saves, has held opposing teams to a .104 batting average, and has yielded only 0.67 hits/walks per innings.

No surprise, Weiss is one of the Blue Wahoos players whom Reds president and general manager Walt Jockett came to watch this week, according to the Pensacola News-Journal.

Bleier and Weiss have some things in common. Both are 6’3″, grew up and went to college in coastal states (Bleier at Florida Gulf Coast, Weiss at UCLA), and were 6th-round draft picks (Bleier by Texas, Weiss by Cincinnati). Neither one has rated a blip on ‘top prospect’ radars. When MLB.com assembled its 2015 Top 30 prospect watch lists for the Reds and Nats, for example, the names Weiss and Bleier were nowhere to be found.

A key difference is age. Weiss, drafted in 2013, is just 23 years old and has made quick work of the Reds’ minor-league ladder. Bleier, 28, was drafted in 2008, has played for three franchises over an 8-year professional career, and has had a winning record only once before — just barely so, in 2014, when he earned 6 wins against 5 losses. “I’m not a prospect by any means,” he admitted in a recent newspaper interview. “I was a prospect at one point and I was a little inconsistent and kind of got passed up. And now I’m just trying to hang in there.”

Bleier’s breakout 2015 season has opened many eyes in Cincinnati. Thru games played Aug. 29, his 14 wins were tied for third among all minor-leaguers, and his 164.1-innings made him the minors’ most durable hurler. By no means a power pitcher — he has fanned 61 batters this season, half as many as in 2009 — the native of Davie, FL, has been a marvel of control and consistency this year. Bleier has issued just 15 walks all season, an average of 0.82 per 9 innings, and hasn’t given more than 2 free passes in a single game.

In the article cited above, Bleier credited his turnaround to a bolder, more nuanced approach toward right-handed batters. Soon, he may get to test that new strategy against Major League hitters.

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By Scott Barancik, editor

Nu, so what’s going on in the Minors?

Cody Decker — the San Diego Padres’ all-time minor-league HR leader and a participant in this month’s Triple-A Home Run Derby — has hit three HRs since the All-Star break, including Thursday’s solo shot (7/23/2015). The El Paso Chihuahuhas star has 18 HRs, and he’s hitting them at a league-leading pace of one in every 14 at-bats.

Jeff Urlaub is back from Tommy John surgery, albeit in a rehab assignment with the rookie-league AZL Athletics. In his first game in more than 14 months, the 28-year-old reliever pitched a scoreless inning of relief Thursday, striking out two batters and walking one. Mazel tov, Jeff!

At age 28 and in his first season with the Washington Nationals franchise, 2012 Team Israel member Richard Bleier is enjoying his best season yet. Check out this write-up in the Nats’ hometown paper, a modest rag called the Washington Post. And if you wish, check out JBN’s recent article on the lanky southpaw, too.

Diamondbacks prospect Zach Borenstein continues to tear-up Double-A pitching. Yesterday, he smashed his 10th HR in 220 at-bats, a 2-run shot that ran his RBI total to 50. The 25-year-old left fielder is hitting .318 with a .408 OBP and .958 OPS.

Charlie Cutler, who was batting .380 for the Salt Lake Bees (AAA) when the Angels released him earlier this month, remains unsigned. Why? Insiders agree the 28-year-old can hit. Owner of a .306 career average and .393 on-base percentage, the 2008 draftee is tough to strike out and walks as often as he whiffs, a rarity these days. But Cutler’s catching skills are uneven (he nixed only 2 of 23 stolen-base attempts in Triple-A this year), and with no more than 5 home runs per season, he lacks the power expected of a first baseman or designated hitter. Rough game, baseball is.

Dave Rosenfield, who served as general manager of the Norfolks Tides (AAA) from 1963 to 2011, hasn’t retired just yet. Among other duties, the 86-year-old vice president still creates the International League’s (AAA) entire season schedule by hand. You can learn about Dave’s storied baseball career in his 2013 book, Baseball: One Helluva Life.

SUNY-Purchase alum Mike Skoller has signed to play in the independent Ozarks Pro Baseball League, a newly-formed league that has a unique plan for moving players onto MLB-affiliated teams.

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Richard Bleier pitches at Metro Bank Park, home field of the Harrisburg Senators (Mick Reinhard/Special to PennLive)

By Scott Barancik, editor

Richard Bleier pitched 7 shutout innings Wednesday for the Harrisburg Senators (AA), giving up just four hits and not a single walk in a 13-0 win.

So what else is new? In 103 Double-A innings this year, the 28-year-old Washington Nationals prospect has walked only nine batters, or 2.2% of those he has faced — the best walk percentage among ‘qualified’ pitchers in all three Double-A leagues, according to FanGraphs. His 2.45 ERA is fifth-best in the Eastern League, and he’s given up just one earned run in his last 44 innings at Harrisburg’s home field, Metro Bank Park. Earlier this season Bleier pitched 15 innings in Triple-A, where he yielded but one free pass.

No wonder the 2012 Team Israel member from Florida is earning rave reviews from publications like the Naples Daily News and Washington Post. The timing of Bleier’s rise is something of a surprise. Selected by the Texas Rangers in the 6th round of the 2008 draft, the lanky Florida Gulf Coast alum began as a starter but was demoted to the reliever ranks in mid-2011. He had a brief stint with the franchise’s Triple-A team in 2013, spent 2014 in Toronto’s farm system after being picked up in the Rule 5 draft, and was signed by the Nationals in the offseason. Credit the Nats with recognizing that the 6’3″, 195-pound southpaw belonged outside the bullpen.

The Post’s Chelsea Janes says Bleier’s accuracy forces batters to make contact. “He gets two ground ball outs for every out he gets in the air, which helps him compile ‘stress-free innings’ completed on a handful of pitches — sometimes fewer than he threw in warm-ups,” she writes. “The result is extended effectiveness. Without lighting up radar guns or fitting on top-prospect lists, Bleier earned Eastern League Pitcher of the Week honors in late May.”

Bleier is aware that his age makes him something of a long shot to reach the Majors. “Being 28 in Double A never really helps. There’s no trajectory,” he told the Post. “When there’s four starters on the 40-man in Triple A, it’s kind of tough for me to get called up. I just do what I can, and hopefully it will eventually work out. Maybe not this year, maybe next year. Who knows.”

One thing is certain, though. Whoever faces him, Richard Bleier is no walk in the park.

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By Scott Barancik, editor

Twenty-three minor-league players were selected in the Triple-A phase of today’s (12/12/2013) Rule 5 draft, and three of them are Jewish.

  • The San Diego Padres acquired St. Louis Cardinals prospect Jake Lemmerman. A 24-year-old shortstop out of Duke University, Lemmerman has hit .273 over his 4-year career with the Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers franchises. He has never played above the Double-A level.
  • The Toronto Blue Jays selected Texas Rangers prospect Richard Bleier. A 6th-round draft pick of the Rangers in 2008, the 26-year-old reliever recorded a best-ever 3.32 ERA in 2013 for the franchise’s Double-A and Triple-A teams. Bleier has a career record of 33-44 with a 4.46 ERA, 3 shutouts, 4 complete games, and 5 saves.
  • The Chicago Cubs picked up Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Charlie Cutler. A .303 lifetime hitter who has never played at the Triple-A level, the 27-year-old catcher has tossed out 72 of the 229 runners who have tried to steal on him, or 24 percent. This is the second time Cutler has been selected in a Rule 5 draft; the Pirates acquired him from the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011.

Lemmerman, Bleier and Cutler all played on Team Israel during the 2012 qualifiers for the World Baseball Classic. No Jewish players were selected in the Major League or Double-A portions of today’s Rule 5 draft.

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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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By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

The long wait to see which players will represent Israel at World Baseball Classic qualifiers this week is over.

Team Israel’s 28-man roster (see below) includes two former Major Leaguers (player/coaches Shawn Green and Gabe Kapler), three Israelis, and 23 minor-leaguers. Because the MLB season is still underway, no current Major Leaguers are on the roster. Also missing are a number of Triple-A and even Double-A players whose teams wanted them around as potential call-ups later this month.

The double-elimination tournament takes place Sept. 19-23 in Jupiter, Fla., and pits Israel against teams from France, Spain, and South Africa. Whoever prevails will earn a spot in the main World Basic Classic competition, in November 2013. If Israel wins, the team it fields in 2013 likely will include a number of Major Leaguers (such as Kevin Youkilis, who already has committed to play) and Triple-A players.

Additional commentary on this week’s roster is shown below the table.

Team Israel: Roster for the WBC qualifying tourney
No.
Player
Pos.
Age
Hometown
Minor-league team
Parent club
27COLVIN, DavidRHP23Mill Valley, CAClinton LumberKings (A)Seattle Mariners
34KAPLAN, JeffRHP27Dana Point, CABinghamton Mets (AA)New York Mets
36KOPP, DavidRHP26Coral Springs, FLErie SeaWolves (AA)Detroit Tigers
16LEICHMAN, AlonRHP23Kibbutz Gezer, IsraelN.A.N.A.
22LIPETZ, ShlomoRHP33Tel Aviv, IsraelN.A.N.A.
10LORIN, BrettRHP25Laguna Niguel, CAMobile Bay Bears (AA)Arizona Diamondbacks
21PERLMAN, MaxRHP24Jupiter, FLStockton Ports (A+)Oakland A's
(-)ROTHEM, DanRHP35Tel Aviv, IsraelN.A.N.A.
26SCHUMER, JustinRHP24Houston, TXSan Jose Giants (A+)San Francisco Giants
28ZEID, JoshRHP25New Haven, CTCorpus Christi Hooks (AA)Houston Astros
14BERGER, EricLHP26Goldsboro, NCColumbus Clippers (AAA)Cleveland Indians
35BLEIER, RichardLHP25Davie, FLFrisco Roughriders (AA)Texas Rangers
17GOULD, JeremyLHP24Buffalo Grove, ILSavannah Sand Gnats (A)New York Mets
29URLAUB, JeffLHP25Scottsdale, AZStockton Ports (A+)Oakland A's
37CUTLER, CharlieC26San Fransico, CAAltoona Curve (AA)Pittsburgh Pirates
3MARDER, JackC/IF22Calabasas, CAHigh Desert Mavericks (A+)Seattle Mariners
19RICKLES, NickC22Ft. Lauderdale, FLBurlington Bees (A+)Oakland A's
6DECKER, Cody1B25Santa Monica, CASan Antonio Missions (AA)San Diego Padres
25FREIMAN, Nate1B25Wellesley, MASan Antonio Missions (AA)San Diego Padres
9ORLOFF, Ben2B25Simi Valley, CACorpus Christi Hooks (AA)Houston Astros
2SATIN, Josh2B27Hidden Hills, CABuffalo Bisons (AAA)New York Mets
33HAERTHER, Casey3B24West Hills, CAArkansas Travelers (AA)Los Angeles Angels
7LEMMERMAN, JakeSS23Coronoa del Mar, CAChattanooga Lookouts (AA)Los Angeles Dodgers
15GREEN, ShawnOF39Des Plaines, ILN.A.N.A.
24GUEZ, BenOF25Houston, TXToledo Mud Hens (AAA)Detroit Tigers
18KAPLER, GabeOF37Hollywood, CAN.A.N.A.
31PEDERSON, JocOF20Palo Ato, CARancho Cucamonga Quakes (A+)Los Angeles Dodgers
23WIDLANSKY, RobbieOF/3B27Plantation, FLBowie Baysox (AA)Baltimore Orioles

Here are some other facts and observations on Team Israel’s roster for the qualifiers:

  • Of the 23 minor leaguers on the roster, three ended the 2012 season with a Triple-A team, 12 at the Double-A level, six at A-advanced, and two with a Single-A team.
  • Adam Greenberg, a former Major Leaguer who is trying to mount a comeback, was invited to Jupiter for tryouts but is not on the roster.
  • Josh Satin, who played briefly for the New York Mets in 2011 and 2012, is the only player with MLB experience.
  • The youngest player on the roster is 20-year-old outfielder Joc Pederson, who is ranked the Los Angeles Dodgers’ No. 3 prospect by MLB.com. The oldest player is 39-year-old Shawn Green, whose 15-year MLB career included five seasons with the Dodgers and ended with the New York Mets in 2007. Green’s 328 career HRs are second only to Hank Greenberg’s 331 among Jewish ballplayers.
  • Israeli player Alon Leichman plays for Cypress College, a community college in California.
  • During the qualifiers for the 2012 European Championship, Israeli pitcher Shlomo Lipetz was masterful, giving up just one earned run over 16-and-a-third innings while striking out 18 and walking three.
  • Three players on Team Israel are 6-foot-7-inches tall: pitchers Brett Lorin and Max Perlman, and 1B Nate Freiman. At 5-foot-8-inches, Alon Leichman is the shortest.
  • Nate Freiman and Cody Decker, teammates on the San Antonio Missions (AA), finished 2nd and 3rd in HRs this season among Texas League players.

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Scott Feldman

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Thanks to off-season surgery on his right knee, Texas Rangers P Scott Feldman has spent the 2011 season on the disabled list. But he may be turning the corner.

On Saturday (5/14/2011), the 6-foot-6-inch starter pitched 5 strong innings for the “AA” Frisco RoughRiders in an 11-2 win over the Corpus Christi Hooks. Feldman gave up one earned run on just two hits while striking out 4 and walking 2.

According to MLB.com, the Rangers want to see Feldman pitch at least 2 more minor-league games before they decide whether he’s ready to return to the majors.

By coincidence, the starting pitcher the day after Feldman’s appearance was Richard Bleier, a fellow Jew. Bleier had a somewhat tougher time during his 6 innings on the mound, giving up 3 earned runs on 9 hits in a 4-3 loss to Corpus Christi.

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Kinsler is not really alone

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Texas Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler may be the only Jew playing in the 2010 World Series, but he’s got some company in the Minor Leagues.

Both World Series teams have Jewish players in their farm systems. And while none is likely to make the Majors in 2011, a couple show some promise.

The San Francisco Giants employ at least three tribe members:

  • C Aaron Lowenstein, 25, of the “AA” Richmond Flying Squirrels. Selected in the 44th round (1,137th overall) of the 2008 amateur draft. Split the 2010 season between the Squirrels and the “A-advanced” San Jose Giants. Hit a combined .194 with 0 HRs, 4 RBIs and 5 doubles over 93 at-bats.
  • SP Ari Ronick, 24, of the “A” Augusta GreenJackets. Selected in the 12th round (357th overall) of the 2008 amateur draft. In three 2010 starts, Ronick went 0-2 with a 10.80 ERA.
  • SP Justin Schumer, 22,  “A-short season” Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. Not drafted. Split the 2010 season between the Volcanoes and the “rookie-league” AZL Giants. In 5 starts and 4 relief appearances, went a combined 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA and held opposing batters to a .196 average.

As for the Rangers, Kinsler teammate and SP Scott Feldman didn’t make the post-season roster, but at least 2 Jews play for the franchise’s “AA” squad:

  • SP Richard Bleier, 23, of the “AA” Frisco RoughRiders. Selected in the 6th round (183rd overall) of the 2008 amateur draft. In 2010, went 7-11 with a 5.04 ERA but had a strikeout/walk ratio of 82/28.
  • SP Michael Schlact, 24, of the “AA” Frisco RoughRiders. Selected in the 3rd round (81st overall) of the 2004 amateur draft. Split the 2010 between Frisco and the “A-advanced” Bakersfield Blaze. Went a combined 4-5 with a 6.08 ERA.

Schlact, a 6’7″ right-hander, is the only player among those mentioned to skip college. He was drafted out of Wheeler High School in Marietta, Ga.

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JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — How are Jewish players doing in the minor-league playoffs? Here is an overview, starting with players whose teams are still in the mix, and followed by those already celebrating victory or recently ousted.

Fighting for a championship

The Columbus Clippers (Cleveland Indians) are fighting for the International League (AAA) championship, and 2B Jason Kipnis is doing his best to help. Called up Tuesday (9/14/2010) from the “AA” Akron Aeros, the 23-year-old contributed immediately, going 2/4 with a walk and 3 runs scored in an 18-5, Game 1 victory over the Durham Bulls.

The Memphis Redbirds (St. Louis Cardinals) lost Game 1 of the Pacific Coast League (AAA) championship series to the Tacoma Rainiers, 5-3. Memphis CF James Rapoport went 1/5 with a double in the loss. During a 1st-round sweep of the Oklahoma City RedHawks, he went a combined 7/11 with 2 RBIs, 2 walks and a stolen base.

Each of the two teams battling for the Carolina League (A-advanced) championship features a Jewish pitcher. In fact, one opened Game 1, while the other opened Game 2:

  • In Game 1 of the series (9/14/2010), SP Danny Rosenbaum of the Potomac Nationals (Washington Nationals) gave up 6 hits and 1 earned run over 4 and 1/3 innings in a 4-0 loss to the Winston-Salem Dash. Rosenbaum had a disastrous start earlier in the playoffs, giving up 7 earned runs over one inning in a 10-9 loss to the Frederick Keys (9/8/2010). (The Keys’ starter that night did slightly worse, giving up 8 runs, 6 of them earned, in just 2/3 of an inning.)
  • In Game 2 of the series (9/14/2010), SP Dylan Axelrod of the Winston-Salem Dash (Chicago White Sox) pitched well in a 5-3 loss to  Potomac, allowing two runs on just 3 hits and 1 walk over 7 innings while striking out 5. The defeat evened the series at 1-1. Earlier in the playoffs, Axelrod led Winston-Salem to a 2-0 victory over the Kinston Indians, allowing just two hits and 1 walk over 7 innings, while striking out 9 and retiring 19 batters in a row.

The Midwest League (A) championship series features yet another match-up between Jewish pitchers:

  • The Lake County Captains (Cleveland Indians) will open Game 1 of the series tonight (9/15/2010) with rookie Jason Knapp on the mound. The 20-year-old phenom was dominant in his only other playoff game, a 3-2 win over the West Michigan WhiteCaps (9/10/2010). In that game, Knapp gave up just two infield hits over 5 innings while striking out six and walking one.
  • Jason Markovitz will serve a relief role for the Clinton LumberKings (Seattle Mariners). So far he has pitched one scoreless inning in the playoffs.

The Lakewood BlueClaws (Philadelphia Phillies) are tied 1-1 with the Greenville Drive in the South Atlantic League (A) championship series. BlueClaws RP Josh Zeid pitched 3 perfect innings and struck out 4 en route to a 6-1 win in Game 2 (9/14/2010). In an earlier playoff series against the Hickory Crawdads, the 23-year-old pitched a scoreless inning in a 7-0 victory (9/8/2010), and then hit and walked the only 2 batters he faced in a 2-1 loss to the Crawdads (9/10/2010).

Two Jews are playing for the Ogden Raptors (Los Angeles Dodgers) for the Pioneer League (Rookie) championship, a 3-game series currently led 1-0 by the Orem Owlz:

  • SS Jake Lemmerman went 1/3 and drew a walk in the Raptors’ Game 1 loss to the Owlz, 3-2. The top Jewish pick in the 2010 draft (5th round, 172nd overall), Lemmerman is batting .231 in the playoffs but has a .444 on-base percentage and has scored 5 runs, tied for tops in the Pioneer League playoffs.
  • In two separate playoff appearances, including Tuesday’s loss, RP Andrew Pevsner struck out the only batter he faced. In a third outing he faced three batters and gave up a double, and was charged with an earned run when the next pitcher gave up a home run. Pevsner’s ERA for the playoffs is 6.75.

Already celebrating

The Tri-City Valley Cats (Houston Astros) swept the New York-Penn League (A-short season) championship over the Brooklyn Cyclones (New York Mets). One of the stars was Valley Cats IF Ben Orloff, who led the team with a .333 batting average in the playoffs and recently was named its 2010 Most Valuable Player. In Tuesday’s 5-2 finale (9/14/2010), Orloff went 2/5 and drove in a run.

Out of the running

Two Jewish players made it to the 1st round of the Texas League (AA) playoffs:

  • In his only playoff appearance, Springfield Cardinals (St. Louis Cardinals) SP David Kopp pitched 5 and 1/3 innings in a loss to the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Kansas City Royals), giving up 5 hits and 2 earned runs. Springfield lost the series 3-2. Cardinals C Charlie Cutler did not play.
  • SP Richard Bleier of the Frisco RoughRiders (Texas Rangers) pitched 5 and 2/3 innings in a series-opening loss to the Midland RockHounds, giving up 3 earned runs on 7 hits. Midland won the series 3-1.

Two Jewish players made it to the 1st round of the Midwest League (A) playoffs:

  • 1B Nate Freiman of the Fort Wayne TinCaps (San Diego Padres) went 4/9 (.444) with 2 RBIs and drew 5 walks, raising his on-base percentage to .643. Fort Wayne lost the series 2-1 to the Great Lakes Loons.
  • 1B Casey Haerther of the Cedar Rapids Kernels (Los Angeles Angels) went 1/12 (.083) and struck out six times; his only hit was a double. Cedar Rapids lost the series 2-1 to the Clinton LumberKings.
  • RP Jason Novak of the Quad Cities River Bandits (St. Louis Cardinals) was on the disabled list and did not play.

We’ll keep you posted on the playoff picture.

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Players of the day

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — The best major- or minor-league performances of Sunday, July 25:

  • Jake Lemmerman, “Rookie Pioneer League” Ogden Raptors (Los Angeles Dodgers). The 21-year-old shortstop went 2-for-2 on Sunday with a home run and two walks. The top Jewish pick in the June 2010 amateur draft — 5th round, 172nd overall — Lemmerman ranks among Rookie Pioneer League leaders in multiple categories, including runs scored (32, 1st), batting average (.371, tied for 2nd), on-base percentage (.430, 2nd), OPS (1.018, tied for 2nd), and slugging percentage (.589, 5th). The Raptors have the best record in their league.
  • Charlie Cutler, “A+” Palm Beach Cardinals (St. Louis Cardinals). The 23-year-old catcher hit a double and triple Sunday and had one RBI in a 6-4 victory over the Tampa Yankees. Since his demotion from the “AA” Springfield Cardinals, Lavarnway is batting .281 with a .348 on-base percentage. The Cardinals share the division lead with the Bradenton Maurauders.
  • Richard Bleier, “AA” Frisco RoughRiders (Texas Rangers). The 23-year-old starting pitcher threw his second complete-game shutout of the season Sunday in a 4-0 victory over the Corpus Christi Hooks. Bleier tossed just 90 pitches, allowing just six hits and one walk while striking out three. The RoughRiders are tied for the best record in the Texas League.

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