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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

Free agent Kevin Youkilis, who struck fear and loathing in the hearts of New Yorkers during an All-Star career with the Boston Red Sox, is joining the Yankees.

Sports Illustrated and other news outlets reported this evening (12/11/2012) that the 33-year-old infielder has accepted a one-year, $12-million contract. The deal is contingent on the oft-injured Youkilis passing a physical.

Youk is expected to fill the third-base hole left by Alex Rodriguez, who’s likely to miss up to half the season due to hip surgery. He’s the 7th member of the Boston’s 2004 World Series-winning roster to join the Yankees, SI said.

Youk entertained a two-year, $18-million competing offer from the Cleveland Indians. He spent part of the 2012 season with the Chicago White Sox.

In other baseball news, the Los Angeles Angels picked up minor-league prospect Robbie Widlansky from the Baltimore Orioles, who left the 28-year-old OF/1B unprotected in the Triple-A phase of last week’s Rule 5 draft. Widlansky had a terrific 2012 season with the O’s Double-A club, hitting .316 with 8 HRs, 83 RBIs, 35 doubles, 11 stolen bases in 14 tries, and a .404 on-base percentage. He likely will begin the 2012 season with the Salt Lake Bees (AAA).

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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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By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

It’s not easy to muster a smile on Mondays, but here are a few good reasons:

  • There are only three possible explanations for pitcher Scott Feldman‘s recent dominance: a pact with the devil, alien body-snatching, or performance-enhancing drugs. Through July 4, the Texas Ranger had a 2-6 record and a 6.11 ERA, while opposing batters were hitting him at a .285 clip. But the 29-year-old Hawaii native has strangled his past 3 opponents, giving up just one earned run in 17 innings (an ERA of 0.53) while striking out 10 and walking zero. The performance has boosted his record to 5-6 and slimmed his ERA to 4.76.
  • Sam Fuld is back. After spending the first three months of the season on the disabled list, the scrappy Tampa Bay Rays outfielder returned to the field with a vengeance last week (7/24/2012). In five games since returning, Fuld went 6-for-16 (.375) with 2 doubles and 2 RBIs, and the slumping Rays won three of five.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Joc Pederson is surging. A 20-year-old outfielder with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A-advanced), Pederson has hit .333 in his past 10 games, including 3 HRs, 11 RBIs, 3 stolen bases, and a .429 on-base percentage. The Palo Alto, Calif. native was an 11th-round pick out of high school in the 2010 draft. At the beginning of this season, MLB.com ranked him the Dodgers’ No. 4 prospect.
  • Baltimore Orioles prospect Robbie Widlansky is among Eastern League leaders in several offensive categories. A 27-year-old outfielder/DH with the Bowie Baysox (AA), Widlansky is hitting.301 with 6 HRs, 62 RBIs (3rd highest), 9 stolen bases, and an on-base percentage of .396 (4th).
  • Think the Chicago White Sox are happy they acquired 3B Kevin Youkilis? Check out this MLB.com compilation video titled “The Youk Effect.”
  • One of Israel’s few home-grown baseball stars is a 6’4″, 33-year-old pitcher whose day job is booking musicians for the City Winery in New York City. The Wall Street Journal has a terrific profile on Shlomo Lipetz and the challenges  he faced learning baseball in Tel Aviv after relatives first exposed him to the sport in a 1986 visit to Shea Stadium.
  • Ike Davis had a 3-HR game for the first time in his career on Saturday (7/28/2012). The Arizona native homered in his first three at-bats (see video) and added a single to go 4-for-4 in a 6-3 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix. After an anemic start this season, Davis is tied for 6th place in the National League with 20 HRs, is third among N.L. first basemen with 60 RBIs, and has raised his batting average to .213. He has six HRs in his past 10 games.
  • According to our friends at Jewish Sports Review, a total of 13 Jewish players were selected in the 2012 amateur draft. We’ll publish the full list, along with short bios, very soon.
  • Adam Greenberg is vying for a spot on on Team Israel, which will be competing in a qualifying round for the World Baseball Classic in September. The 31-year-old former Chicago Cub is best known, unfortunately, for getting hit in the head by pitcher Valerio de los Santos during his first and only Major League at-bat, in 2005. Greenberg’s career was derailed by the resulting concussion and vertigo. But the 5’9″ fireplug has grit. He singled off de los Santos when he next faced him, in a 2011 independent-league game, and you can see both at-bats in this video profile by ESPN. Good luck, Adam!
  • Nearly 3 months after being demoted to AAA, Danny Valencia has returned to the Minnesota Twins. The 27-year-old third baseman immediately chipped in with an RBI double and two runs scored in a 12-5 win over the Cleveland Indians on Saturday (7/28/2012). His stay is likely to be short, as regular 3B Trevor Plouffe is suffering only from a bruised right thumb.
  • Congratulations to U.S. women’s gymnastics captain Aly Raisman, a tribe member who advanced to the Olympics’ all-around finals with a terrific floor exercise she performed to the tune of Hava Nagila on Sunday night (7/29/2012).

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

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By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Our cup runneth over with good news this week:

  • Does Kevin Youkilis have a flair for the dramatic, or what? The newly-minted Chicago White Sox third baseman homered in his first at-bat at U.S. Cellular Field (see video) and finished the day 3-for-6 with 4 RBIs. He’s 9-for-23 (.391) during the current homestand, with 3 HRs and 10 RBIs.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Joc Pederson must have eaten his Wheaties on July 1. The 20-year-old outfielder with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A-advanced) homered three times in a 17-4 rout of the High Desert Mavericks to tie a franchise record. Quite a feat, especially since he’d managed just 3 HRs in his first 52 games.
  • Baltimore Orioles prospect Robbie Widlansky, who will be participating in the upcoming Eastern League (AA) All-Star game, was named Player of the Month in June after hitting .407 with 10 doubles, 2 HRs, 21 RBIs, and an OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging) of 1.116. (Read our interview with Widlansky here.)
  • Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Jake Lemmerman tweeted this photo of himself and hero Tommy Lasorda last week.
  • Sorry to hear that Los Angeles Dodgers CF Matt Kemp injured his hamstring, but the upside is that Milwaukee Brewers LF Ryan Braun will be an N.L. starter in this week’s All-Star Game rather than a reserve player.
  • Jewish Baseball News contributor Zev Ben Avigdor snapped this photo (below) at a Binghamton Mets (AA) home game against the Altoona Curve on July 3. Guess who threw out the first ball that night? Cleveland Cavaliers F Omri Casspri, the first Israeli to play in the NBA.
  • Fans unfurl an Israel flag at a Binghamton Mets game.

  • Max Ungar, an 18-year-old catcher selected by the Washington Nationals in the 36th round of this year’s amateur draft, is going to attend Denison University instead. Ungar confirmed the decision in a tweet to Jewish Baseball News. “I chose college over the pro’s,” he wrote. “A classic ‘Moneyball’ move.”
  • What’s it’s like to be a newly-drafted rookie about to begin your first minor-league assignment? Maxx Tissenbaum, an 11th-round draft pick of the San Diego Padres, tells you all about it in his blog The Padres Life.
  • Boston Red Sox prospect Ryan Lavarnway will be the starting catcher for the International League (AAA) in its annual All-Star game against the Pacific Coast League (AAA).
  • The bad news is that Sam Fuld went 0-for-3 in an appearance July 7 with the Charlotte Stone Crabs (A-advanced). The good news is that it marked the first game he’s played since undergoing wrist surgery. The Tampa Bay Rays outfielder is expected to complete a 20-game rehab stint before returning to St. Petersburg.
  • The Oakland A’s have promoted reliever Jeff Urlaub to the Stockton Ports (A-advanced). Can you blame them? In 25 appearances with the Burlington Bees (A) this season, the 25-year-old stringbean — he’s 6’2″, 160 lbs. — assembled a 5-4 record with 3 saves, a 2.60 ERA, 27 strikeouts and only one walk. And Urlaub continues to impress. Four games into his new gig with Stockton, he’s given up one hit, no walks, and no runs while holding opposing hitters to a .059 batting average.
  • Friday night (July 6) was a memorable one for Los Angeles Angels prospect Zach Borenstein, who went 4-for-5 with two doubles, two HRs, and 6 RBIs. His second HR of the night, struck in the bottom of the 9th inning, propelled the Cedar Rapids Kernels (A) to a 12-11, walk-off win over the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

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

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Robbie Widlansky (MiLB.com)

By Zev Ben Avigdor/Jewish Baseball News

Baltimore Orioles prospect Robbie Widlansky is getting a lot of attention lately.

A first baseman, outfielder, and DH with the Bowie Bowsox (AA), the 27-year-old will play in next week’s Eastern League All-Star game. In June he was named the league’s Player of the Month after hitting .407 with 10 doubles, 2 HRs, 21 RBIs, and an OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging) of 1.116.

It didn’t happen overnight for the Plantation, Fla., native. Picked by the Yankees out of high school in 2003, he deferred his entry into professional baseball and attended Florida Atlantic University instead. But since the Baltimore Orioles drafted him in the 11th round of the 2007 amateur draft, he’s played consistently well. Widlansky led all Orioles minor leaguers in 2009 with a .340 batting average for the Frederick Keys (A-advanced). He rose to AA in 2010, and midway through the 2011 season he was promoted to AAA, where he batted .283 in 127 at-bats.

It’s not clear why the 6’2″, 210-pounder is back with the Bowie Baysox (AA) this season, but as his recent accolades attest, Widlansky continues to give it his all. Jewish Baseball News contributor Zev Ben Avigdor recently caught up with the Orioles prospect. Following is an edited transcript of their chat.

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How did you get started in baseball?

I started playing at age 5, 6, 7. Tee ball, the whole thing: little league, high school, college, pro. I have two older brothers. They both played when they were younger. One of them played in college. So we were always around sports. I grew up with sports. That’s basically how things started off.

When you were starting, who influenced you?

My dad. He was into sports, and he’s always been a part of my career. So he’s definitely been a big part of things. I grew up in Florida. Growing up I was a Marlins fan, and I was a Yankees fan because of my family: Connecticut on my dad’s side, New Jersey on my mom’s side. I always liked a lot of the Yankees — [especially] Jeter.

What about now? Are there players that you try to be like?

Not really. I try to be the best guy that I can be. Sounds kind of…But that’s the truth. Just to play hard.

As you were growing up, were you involved in synagogue, Hebrew school, bar mitzvah?

Yeah, I became bar mitzvah. I went to Hebrew school growing up.

What about now? What kind of contact do you have with Jewish fans?

Sometimes they write to me, but not a ton come up to me. Sometimes you get the letters in the mail from Jewish people, and from others, also. [The Jewish fans say] that they like autographs from Jewish ballplayers. Just stuff like that. Same stuff that other guys will say.

Just Jewisher.

Yeah, exactly.

What’s cool about being a Jewish ballplayer?

I don’t know if this is cool, but just the numbers. There’s not a lot of people. It’s more different. It shows you work hard. Maybe you have gotten to a place so far that other people haven’t, where you’re still trying to move on even further in your career. You just have to keep working. It puts you on a small little pedestal, not a big one, certainly.

What’s the best part of being Jewish in general?

There’s a lot of good things. That’s a tough one.

So what do you like best about being a baseball player?

Just to be competitive. It’s fun. The competition. Especially when you get to the pro ranks, you’re obviously trying to get to the top. And it’s just one of those things that everyone wants to — “Oh, man, a baseball player, that’s amazing!” — stuff like that. It’s a pretty fun time. I’m sure it’s a lot more fun in the big leagues, but it’s pretty good in the minor leagues.

Do people understand what it’s like being a minor league baseball player?

Maybe some. I’m sure a lot don’t. Maybe depending on how much people are into the game, or know people that are into the game that they can ask questions. Obviously coming up through the minors it’s not all glamour like up top. That’s why you have to keep working.

What would you want people to know about the life of a baseball player, so they can better appreciate what you go through?

It’s games every day, 142 games a season in the minors, long bus rides, sometimes you’re forced to eat fast food and things you don’t want. You’re in a hotel for 70-plus nights a year. You don’t always have the comforts of home-cooked meals. You’re around 25, 30 guys. You’re probably not going to get along with all of them. So it’s just little things. A grind. Get your body going each day. It’s hard work.

What would you like people who read Jewish Baseball News to know about you? If they could know what it was like for you, what should they know?

To get here, where I am right now, baseball-wise, you put in hours upon hours training and working. Especially the game of baseball. There’s so much failure that you go through a lot mentally — ups and downs. Obviously you hope for as many ups as possible, but it’s a roller coaster ride, and you just have to put in time, a lot of time, hours, hard work, training.

How do you handle the emotional roller coaster?

Sometimes it’s tough. Some guys are better at it than others. I feel like I’m pretty good at it. It’s just that everyone has a different personality. Everyone experiences different ups and downs.

Do you have a way of coping that you would be willing to share?

I don’t have like a big [way of coping]. I’m not set in my ways in a lot of ways. I am just kind of a pretty relaxed type of guy. I’m just kind of going to mind my own things. When things are going well, great. When things aren’t good, just try to fix them as quickly as possible.

What would it be like if you were asked to play for Israel in the World Baseball Classic?

I guess that would be pretty cool. You’re representing — I guess it would be more like a group of people, not a country. I’m not from Israel, obviously. It’s an honor. Like any other person representing a country, a nation — it would be a nice honor.

If you were asking the questions, what would you ask if you wanted to know what it’s like to be a Jewish minor league baseball player?

I would ask — because there have been not as many — do you feel it’s tougher to get to the top? Just because, numbers-wise, there haven’t been too many in the history of the game, do you feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle? But that’s not the case. I mean, you have just as big a chance as anyone else. I’m just saying it might seem like, if you’re Jewish, you can’t make it, but obviously that’s not the case. There’s great players out there, and in the past, obviously, too. Just not a lot of them.

(Editor’s note: “Zev Ben Avigdor” is the pen name of a university scholar who writes for Jewish Baseball News. Click here to see more of his interviews.)

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By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Monday-morning blues be damned:

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

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

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Josh Satin

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Josh Satin of the “AA” Binghamton Mets (New York Mets) hit for the cycle Friday night (6/24/2011) in a 5-3 victory over the Bowie Baysox.

The 26-year-old University of California-Berkeley recruit, who splits his time between second base and third base, accomplished the rare feat in just four at-bats, starting with a 1st-inning HR followed by a double, single, and triple.

Triples come the hardest for Satin. “It’s a running joke with the guys in the dugout that I’m not the fleetest of foot,” he told MLB.com. “Once the ball came off the wall, I knew it was my chance. I just thought, ‘Oh, my God,’ and I kicked it into another gear that I didn’t know I had.”

A 6th-round pick in the 2008 amateur draft, Satin is proving a good investment for the Mets. The MVP of the 2010 “A” Florida State League All-Star Game, he is among the Eastern League leaders in multiple categories this season. Satin is ranked 2nd in doubles (21/tie) and OPS (.947); 3rd in on-base percentage (.414), slugging percentage (.533), and walks (42/tie); 4th in RBIs (46/tie); and 7th in batting average (.318) and HRs (9/tie).

Baysox DH Robbie Widlansky went 1/4 in the game.

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JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Baltimore Orioles prospect Robbie Widlansky is honing his skills in a most unusual place this offseason: Australia.

As a member of the Perth Heat, 1B Widlansky is participating in the inaugural season of the Australian Baseball League, a 6-team, 40-game league sponsored by Major League Baseball and the Australian Baseball Federation. The ABL features “homegrown talent” as well as some “high-profile imports,” according to MLB.com.

Back in the U.S., Widlansky is a solid contributor. An 11th-round pick (339th overall) in the 2007 amateur draft, the 26-year-old Florida native played for the “AA” Bowie Baysox in 2010, where he batted .269 with 5 HRs and 30 RBIs in 279 at-bats.

In 2009, Widlansky hit .340 with 7 HRs and 59 RBIs for the “A” Frederick Keys.

Perth has a 3-1 record so far, and Widlansky is batting a crisp .357, with 3 doubles, 1 HR and 2 RBIs in 14 at-bats.

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JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — For the Spring/Summer minor leagues, the 2010 season is over. So how did Jewish batters do?

According to Jewish Baseball News calculations, the 28 Jews who swung a bat in the minors this season — including several major-leaguers doing rehab stints — had a combined batting average of .280, along with 127 HRs and 834 RBIs.

A list of category leaders and laggards is shown below. But first, a couple clarifications:

  • Players marked with an asterisk played at two or more levels in 2010. Statistics shown for them are cumulative; the team shown is the one a player ended the season with.
  • To qualify for this list, a player must have had at least 300 plate appearances. (A total of 13 met the standard.)

Now, your category leaders.

HIGHEST BATTING AVERAGE

  • SS Jake Lemmerman, “rookie-league” Ogden Raptors (Los Angeles Dodgers) — .363
  • OF Adam Stern, “AAA” Nashville Sounds (Milwaukee Brewers) — .326
  • 2B Josh Satin, “AA” Binghamton Mets* (New York Mets) — .311

LOWEST BATTING AVERAGE

  • OF Ben Guez, “AAA” Toledo Mud Hens* (Detroit Tigers) — .249
  • C Charlie Cutler, “AA” Springfield Cardinals* (St. Louis Cardinals) — .260

MOST HOME RUNS

  • C Ryan Lavarnway, “AA” Portland Sea Dogs* (Boston Red Sox) — 22
  • 2B Jason Kipnis, “AA” Akron Aeros* (Cleveland Indians) — 16
  • 1B Nate Freiman, “A” Fort Wayne TinCaps (San Diego Padres) — 14

MOST TRIPLES

  • OF Sam Fuld, “AAA” Iowa Cubs (Chicago Cubs) — 9
  • 2B Jason Kipnis, “AA” Akron Aeros* (Cleveland Indians) — 8
  • CF James Rapoport, “AAA” Memphis Redbirds* (St. Louis Cardinals) — 4

MOST DOUBLES

  • 1B Nate Freiman, “A” Fort Wayne TinCaps (San Diego Padres) — 43
  • 2B Josh Satin, “AA” Binghamton Mets* (New York Mets) — 39
  • RF David Rubinstein, “A” West Virginia Power (Pittsburgh Pirates) — 37

MOST RBIs

  • C Ryan Lavarnway, “AA” Portland Sea Dogs* (Boston Red Sox) — 102
  • 1B Nate Freiman, “A” Fort Wayne TinCaps (San Diego Padres) — 84
  • 1B Casey Haerther, “A” Cedar Rapids Kernels (Los Angeles Angels) — 74
  • 2B Jason Kipnis, “AA” Akron Aeros* (Cleveland Indians) — 74
  • 2B Josh Satin, “AA” Binghamton Mets* (New York Mets) — 74

MOST WALKS

  • C Ryan Lavarnway, “AA” Portland Sea Dogs* (Boston Red Sox) — 70
  • 2B Josh Satin, “AA” Binghamton Mets* (New York Mets) — 66
  • OF Sam Fuld, “AAA” Iowa Cubs (Chicago Cubs) — 66

MOST STRIKEOUTS

  • 2B Josh Satin, “AA” Binghamton Mets* (New York Mets) — 121
  • 1B Nate Freiman, “A” Fort Wayne TinCaps (San Diego Padres) — 117
  • 2B Jason Kipnis, “AA” Akron Aeros* (Cleveland Indians) — 107

FEWEST STRIKEOUTS

  • C Charlie Cutler, “AA” Springfield Cardinals* (St. Louis Cardinals) — 33
  • OF Sam Fuld, “AAA” Iowa Cubs (Chicago Cubs) — 37
  • OF Adam Stern, “AAA” Nashville Sounds (Milwaukee Brewers) — 47

BEST WALK/STRIKEOUT RATIO

  • OF Sam Fuld, “AAA” Iowa Cubs (Chicago Cubs) — 1.78 (66/37)
  • C Charlie Cutler, “AA” Springfield Cardinals* (St. Louis Cardinals) — .97 (32/33)
  • 1B James Rapoport, “AAA” Memphis Redbirds* (St. Louis Cardinals) — .78 (54/69)

WORST WALK/STRIKEOUT RATIO

  • RF David Rubinstein, “A” West Virginia Power (Pittsburgh Pirates) — .33 (31/95)
  • 1B Robbie Widlansky, “AA” Bowie Baysox (Baltimore Orioles) — .37 (18/49)
  • OF Ben Guez, “AAA” Toledo Mud Hens* (Detroit Tigers) — .41 (37/91)

HIGHEST ON-BASE PERCENTAGE

  • SS Jake Lemmerman, “rookie-league” Ogden Raptors (Los Angeles Dodgers) — .432
  • 2B Josh Satin, “AA” Binghamton Mets* (New York Mets) — .399
  • OF Adam Stern, “AAA” Nashville Sounds (Milwaukee Brewers) — .399

HIGHEST SLUGGING PERCENTAGE

  • SS Jake Lemmerman, “rookie-league” Ogden Raptors (Los Angeles Dodgers) — .610
  • 2B Jason Kipnis, “AA” Akron Aeros* (Cleveland Indians) — .492
  • C Ryan Lavarnway, “AA” Portland Sea Dogs* (Boston Red Sox) — .489

HIGHEST OPS (OBP+SLUGGING)

  • SS Jake Lemmerman, “rookie-league” Ogden Raptors (Los Angeles Dodgers) — 1.042
  • C Ryan Lavarnway, “AA” Portland Sea Dogs* (Boston Red Sox) — .882
  • 2B Jason Kipnis, “AA” Akron Aeros* (Cleveland Indians) — .878

MOST STOLEN BASES

  • RF David Rubinstein, “A” West Virginia Power (Pittsburgh Pirates) — 23
  • OF Sam Fuld, “AAA” Iowa Cubs (Chicago Cubs) — 21
  • OF Ben Guez, “AAA” Toledo Mud Hens* (Detroit Tigers) — 14

Up next: the best minor-league pitchers of 2010.

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