The Israel Baseball League, the country's first professional baseball league, announced the signing of its first two players earlier this week.
Adam Crabb, a righthander from Adelaide, South Australia, and infielder-outfielder Dan Rootenberg, a New Yorker who holds Israeli citizenship, and who played and coached in Switzerland last year, have agreed to sign IBL contracts.
Both come out of the tryout camp held at the Duquette Baseball Academy in Massachusetts this August.
"There will likely be others to sign out of those tryouts," said Dan Duquette, the former Montreal and Boston general manager who is director of player development for the league. "Crabb and Rootenberg personify the quality we are looking for as we stock the six initial franchises.
"We believe the IBL will be a magnet for talented international players and we intend to field a high caliber of play right from year one," he said.
"The fact that our first two signees come from Australia and the U.S. is a statement that this league will draw international talent and attention," said Daniel Kurtzer, the league's commissioner, and former U.S. ambassador to Egypt and Israel. "Our U.S. tryouts drew talented players of varied backgrounds and our upcoming Israeli tryout is expected to draw from baseball playing nations in the Eastern hemisphere, including of course, Israel itself.
"The league will have strong local interest with a large number of native-born players, but will also have a good percentage of experienced players from the international arena to insure a high quality of play."
The Israeli tryouts are scheduled for November 10, at the Yarkon Sports Complex in Petah Tikvah, where they will again be overseen by Duquette and his staff.
All the way from Australia
Crabb, 22, played for the University of South Australia in Adelaide. "He reminds me a lot of Derek Lowe in stature and style," said Duquette. "He traveled to the tryout camp all the way from Australia."
Rootenberg is a 32-year old left-hand hitter who has also pitched. He has been a prolific hitter at every level in his career. He played college ball at SUNY Binghamton, pro ball in the independent Frontier League, and with the Zurich Barracudas in Switzerland as a player/coach.
The league will begin play on June 22, 2007, with six teams playing 48-game schedules. The IBL will announce home cities and playing fields in the coming weeks.
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