Here are all the Jewish Major League Baseball players to catch in 2022
JTA — After two pandemic-altered seasons, a three-month lockout, and a truncated free agent spree, Major League Baseball’s 2022 season is finally here.
For Jewish fans of America’s Pastime, there is a lot to look forward to this season, from Atlanta Braves ace Max Fried from opening day to the highly fashionable Joc Pederson playing for reigning National League Manager of the Year Gabe Kapler. And with the Cleveland Indians who changed their name to Guardians, being a member of the tribe in Major League Baseball only means one thing.
Here’s a comprehensive look at what Jewish fans can look for in 2022, starting with Jewish players on opening day rosters.
- Max Fried, Atlanta Braves pitcher: Fried is the ace of the defending champions. He just completed a 2021 season in which he won his second consecutive Gold Glove award, given to the league’s best defensive pitcher, and his first Silver Slugger award for the most hard-hitting pitcher – he will probably be the last to win this award as a pitcher, as a Universal Designated Hitter, will be introduced this season. Fried also launched his Braves to a World Series victory.
- Alex Bregman, Houston Astros third baseman: Staying healthy is at the top of this slugger’s to-do list in 2022. Bregman played just 91 games for Houston last year, but he’ll be looking to get back into shape this season — one that included the five consecutive firsts. finished in the American League Most Valuable Player races, in 2018 and 2019, when he hit 31 and 41 home runs, respectively.
- Joc Pederson, San Francisco Giants outfielder: The Giants are hoping Pederson’s World Series streak continues in 2022 — the flashy outfielder has won rings in the past two years, for the Dodgers and then the Braves. Pederson will now play for Jewish manager Gabe Kapler, who won the National League’s top manager award last year after guiding the Giants to a historic 107-win season.
- Rowdy Tellez, First baseman and designated hitter for the Milwaukee Brewers: Tellez is entering his first full season in Milwaukee after being traded by Toronto last July. The southpaw has some pop — he hit 21 homers in 2019 — and will be looking to find some rhythm in his third full major league season.
- Dean Kremer, Baltimore Orioles pitcher: The first Israeli to sign an MLB contract, the young right-hander begins the season with the Baltimore club. He has just 17 league games to his name with an ERA close to 7 – the league leaders hover around 2.5-3 – so Kremer will have to prove himself to keep his place in the team .
- Richard Bléier, Miami Marlins Pitcher: Entering his seventh season, Bleier has proven to be a solid relief pitcher, sporting a career ERA of 2.96. The future 35 years signed a two-year extension with Miami during spring training.
- Scott Effross, Chicago Cubs pitcher: Effross made his Major League debut last season and made his first opening day roster for the Cubs this season. The 28-year-old right-hander had a strong spring.
- Eli Morgan, Cleveland Guardians pitcher: Morgan is another young reliever who made his 2021 debut, starting 18 games for Cleveland after being called up in May. Morgan will start 2022 in the Guardians bullpen.
- Garrett Stubbs, Philadelphia Phillies wide receiver: After competing in the World Series with Houston last season, Stubbs moved to Philadelphia to fill in for one of the game’s top catchers, JT Realmuto.
There are also several Jewish players who will be looking to step into the big leagues this season, including some familiar faces.
- Kevin Pilar, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder: Pillar has bounced back a bit in the league since his debut in 2013. After playing for the Mets last year, the outfielder signed a minor league contract with LA. He’s a proven veteran and should see time this year – somewhere – as a fourth outfielder.
- Ryan Sherriff, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher: Sherriff is starting the season on the injured list but is expected to be in the Philadelphia bullpen once he recovers from tendinitis in his left bicep.
- Ty Kelly, Los Angeles Dodgers Utility: A former fan-favorite for Team Israel, Kelly is the ultimate companion – he’s played in all the minor leagues, independent ball and in Israel, and was even briefly retired. He signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers.
- Ryan Lavarnway, Detroit Tigers receiver: Another Team Israel alum, Lavarnway signed a minor league contract with Detroit. He hasn’t featured in more than 10 league games in a season since 2015.
- Jake Kalish, Los Angeles Angels pitcher: The 30-year-old pitcher is yet to make his major league debut despite a lengthy career in the minors. He started the season in Triple A with the Salt Lake Bees.
- Zack Weiss, Los Angeles Angels pitcher: Weiss made his debut for Cincinnati in 2018 but hasn’t left the minor leagues since.
- Andy Yerzy, Arizona Diamondbacks receiver and first baseman: The 23-year-old Canadian was drafted in 2018 and played mostly in low-level minors. He showed power, with 21 home runs in 94 games last year.
- Rob Kaminsky, free agent pitcher: The former first-round pick hasn’t appeared in a game since 2020.
Finally, there is one particular prospect to watch: Jacob Steinmetz.
The first Orthodox Jew drafted into Major League Baseball, Steinmetz is the No. 25 ranked prospect in the Diamondbacks organization, and has had an awesome spring. He’s probably years away from the big leagues, but it’s worth keeping an eye on his development.
And it wouldn’t be a glimpse of Jewish baseball without Sandy Koufax. The legendary pitcher will have his own statue unveiled at Dodger Stadium this summer.