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Browsing Posts tagged Scotty Burcham

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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Israel’s WBC roster taking shape

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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How they built Team Israel’s roster

By Sam Brief, Correspondent

In September’s qualifying round for the 2017 World Baseball Classic (WBC), Colorado Rockies prospect Scotty Burcham tallied a .455 batting average, the best on Team Israel and among the top 15 for all teams.

If not for Facebook, Burcham might never have swung a bat in Brooklyn.

Since anyone who is Jewish or has a Jewish parent, grandparent or spouse can play for Team Israel, volunteers like Alex Jacobs, a Houston Astros scout, were asked to help find such players. Jacobs often employed creative methods.

Jewish baseball fans didn't know that Colorado Rockies prospect <a href=

Scotty Burcham was Jewish until a volunteer scout for Team Israel 'discovered' him" width="300" height="290" srcset="http://www.jewishbaseballnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/burcham-300x290.jpg 300w, http://www.jewishbaseballnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/burcham-120x116.jpg 120w, http://www.jewishbaseballnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/burcham.jpg 381w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" /> Jewish baseball fans didn’t know Colorado Rockies prospect Scotty Burcham was Jewish until a volunteer scout for Team Israel ‘discovered’ him

“It’s Facebook stalking,” said Jacobs, who recently was named Team Israel’s director of player personnel. “I researched Scotty Burcham, and I found his Facebook. When I research these kids, I look for their parents, and I see if their parents have any Jewish in them. His mother was from New York, I believe. So I checked one box. Then, I looked at a picture of her and thought she looked kind of Jewish.

“So I called [Team Israel manager] Jerry Weinstein and said, ‘How about Scotty Burcham?’ And he said ‘Scotty Burcham? What do you have on him?’ And I’m like, ‘He plays shortstop. He’s Jewish. His mom looks like she’s Jewish.’ So Jerry called Scotty’s manager, and the manager asked Scotty if he was Jewish, and Scotty said, ‘Yeah, I am. Why do you ask?’ And the rest is history. He played really well for us.”

Burcham filled a gaping roster hole in the middle infield and helped Team Israel win the WBC qualifiers for the first time. Israel took down Great Britain and Brazil and then crushed Great Britain, 9-1, in the championship game, to advance to the March 2017 WBC games in Seoul, South Korea.

Houston Astros scout Alex Jacobs (left) and Los Angeles Dodgers scout Jonah Rosenthal (right) volunteered to help Team Israel build its roster for the World Baseball Classic

Houston Astros scout Alex Jacobs (left) and Los Angeles Dodgers scout Jonah Rosenthal (right) volunteered to help Team Israel build its roster for the World Baseball Classic

Israel’s 28-man roster in Brooklyn included former Major League Baseball players such as Ike Davis, Jason Marquis and Josh Satin, who skipped the final game to fly to California for the birth of his child. But Israel’s Law of Return made the roster-building process unlike any other, as the team would venture outside of the database of ballplayers already identified as Jewish.

The WBC’s rules state that a player can join a country’s team if he is eligible for citizenship within that country. Per Israel’s Law of Return, citizenship can be granted to anyone who has a Jewish parent, grandparent or spouse.

“We’re looking for ballplayers who can meet the Law of Return for the land of Israel and become Israeli citizens,” said Peter Kurz, the president of the Israeli Association of Baseball. “That’s a much wider interpretation than the actual Jewish law, which says that you have to have a Jewish mother in order to be considered as a Jew. We were able to make it a little broader.”

Kurz added that Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks, whose father is Jewish, doesn’t qualify since he is devoutly Christian.

“We don’t want people who don’t feel Jewish heritage,” Kurz said.

Volunteers like Houston’s Jacobs, Jonah Rosenthal of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Guy Stevens of the Kansas City Royals, and baseball veterans Adam Gladstone and Ty Eriksen uncovered some previously-unknown gems, such as Burcham. But MLB’s rules require proof of eligibility. That was Kurz’s job. Jacobs, Rosenthal and the others gave Kurz the names, Kurz reached out to the players and proved a Jewish connection, and Weinstein managed the team.

“I would get the emails or numbers of their parents, and in almost every case, the parents were totally thrilled that their sons would compete for Team Israel,” Kurz said. “They would send in their son’s Bar Mitzvah certificate, or a birth certificate or a bris certificate. In some cases, I would need a birth certificate of the father. And in other cases, I would have to go to a grandparent.”

It wasn’t always so straightforward. For one player, a tombstone with a Jewish star had to serve as proof.

“The father went to take a picture of his mother’s tombstone, and sent it to me,” Kurz said. “That was the most extreme.”

In between identifying Jewish players and providing proof of their eligibility to MLB officials, Team Israel had to secure each player’s commitment to play. Some former MLBers, like Davis and Marquis, were tougher gets.

“I called both those guys twenty-something times before I got a return call,” Weinstein said. “Marquis had basically retired in the middle of 2015, when he was playing with the Reds. But he pitched on an alumni team in the [National Baseball Congress] World Series in Wichita, and scouts told me he pitched pretty well. So that sparked my interest in him. … He said, ‘I’m gonna check with my wife,’ then he said, ‘I’ll do it.’ He was a great teammate, and a great pitcher on the team.

“Ike Davis got his release from the Yankees, so he was hanging loose, and the timing was just right.”

Team Israel began with a list of known Jewish players maintained by Jewish Baseball News and Jewish Sports Review. Because certain positions were underrepresented, particularly in the middle infield, Weinstein asked his volunteer scouts to find unknowns.

“A lot of what we did was scouring through systems, like college rosters, to find more,” said Rosenthal, the Dodgers scout. “It was an all-hands-on-deck approach. Some of these guys we hadn’t seen. But we weren’t dealing with the biggest demographic out there. Sometimes it involved calling scouts. Sometimes it involved digging for information.” Roughly half a dozen previously-unknown players were discovered as a result of these efforts.

In March, Team Israel will head to Seoul to face off against Chinese Taipei, South Korea and the Netherlands in Pool A of the WBC, where a total of 16 teams will compete for the title of world’s best.

Unlike the qualifiers, which took place during MLB’s regular season, the WBC will take place during the offseason. Kurz and Weinstein hope to add several Major Leaguers to Israel’s roster, including Joc Pederson (who played for Israel in the 2013 WBC qualifiers), Scott Feldman, Alex Bregman, Ian Kinsler, Ryan Braun, Sam Fuld, and more. Weinstein said Kansas City Royals 3B Mike Moustakas, who is married to a Jewish woman, would be eligible if not for a recent stint on the disabled list.

However the roster pans out, volunteers like Gladstone, Jacobs and Rosenthal hope Israel’s success on the international stage will boosts its popularity within the country, which has been a consistent goal. In early January, players will head to Israel for a team trip.

“When we got that final out in Brooklyn, to know the positives that it would do for growing the game in Israel is amazing,” Gladstone said. “It’s not only the money, but also the equipment and notoriety. You felt like you accomplished something. You had a very small part in growing the game of baseball, and for providing opportunities for young kids in Israel who maybe wouldn’t have that if we didn’t win a baseball game.”

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sam brief mugSam Brief is a sophomore at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, where he is a television reporter, radio producer, play-by-play man and writer. Follow him on Twitter @sambrief and feel free to shoot him an email at briefsam@gmail.com.

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Israel's bench empties after Sunday's series-clinching win

By Scott Barancik, Editor

Israel’s first two wins in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers were fairly close affairs, but the team crushed Great Britain 9-1 in the finals Sunday night to sweep the tournament and earn its first-ever trip to the main WBC event, which will take place in March 2017.

Israel dominated equally from the mound and the plate. Starter Jason Marquis and reliever Josh Zeid maintained a perfect game until one out in the 7th inning, and a no-hitter until two outs in the 8th. Zeid, who notched the win, led all qualifier pitchers with 9 strikeouts in the series. Dean Kremer, a 20-year-old Los Angeles Dodgers prospect who this summer became the first Israeli to be drafted by a Major League team, held Great Britain scoreless in the 9th despite yielding 2 hits.

Israel’s bats thundered, beginning with two 2-run home runs in the 5th inning. Blake Gailen, a 5’9″ outfielder making his first appearance in the tournament and batting last in the order, crushed the first round-tripper. Next was C Ryan Lavarnway, who later in the game stroked an RBI single.

3B Cody Decker, the San Diego Padres’ all-time minor-league home run leader, added a solo shot in the 7th inning. RF Zach Borenstein — who made a diving catch in the 5th to preserve Israel’s perfect game — contributed an RBI triple, and DH Charlie Cutler delivered a 2-run double. SS Scotty Burcham led Israel with three hits.

“This is very emotional. Highly emotional,” Decker told MLB.com. “More emotional than I’m letting on.”

In 2012, Israel lost a heartbreaker to Spain in the 10th inning of the qualifying final. That team was managed by Brad Ausmus, who went on to become manager of the Detroit Tigers.

Israel’s win Sunday earned it the 16th and final berth in the 2017 WBC tournament, which will begin in Seoul, South Korea. The team likely will add a few current Major Leaguers and high-level prospects to its roster, given that MLB will still be in off-season mode then.

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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.

Disabled list

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Minor-League Monday (August 22-28, 2016)


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.

Disabled list

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