Team Israel has announced its 28-man roster ahead of the World Baseball Class Qualifier that will take place in New York from Sept. 22 to Sept. 25.
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The winner of the qualifier will advance to compete in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, the fourth installment of the tournament featuring many of the world’s greatest players. Israel will play the national teams of Brazil, Britain and Pakistan at MCU Park, home of the Single-A Brooklyn Cyclones of the New York-Penn League.
Team Israel will be managed by Jerry Weinstein, who has been a coach in the Colorado Rockies organization for nine years and was field manager of the Cape Cod League’s Wareham Gatemen this summer.
Israel made its WBC debut during the 2012 Qualifying Round and went 2-1, falling to Spain in the final game of the qualifier. The squad will include 2009 All-Star pitcher and New York native Jason Marquis; former Mets infielders Ike Davis and Josh Satin and Connecticut native and former Red Sox pitcher Craig Breslow.
The team will also feature 20 players currently affiliated with Major League Baseball teams.
“This roster represents the most exciting group of players that we could assemble for the WBC qualifiers,” said Peter Kurz, president of the Israel Association of Baseball. “Four years ago, Team Israel was so close to qualifying for the 2012 WBC, so this year we are determined not to let the opportunity pass us by. I am confident that manager Jerry Weinstein has selected an outstanding team that will take Israel all the way to the WBC in 2017. Our success will be very positive for the future development of baseball in Israel.”
The squad this time includes five Israelis: Dean Kremer and Shlomo Lipetz, pitchers; Tal Erel as the bullpen catcher and Nate Fish and Alon Leichman as coaches. It reflects the continuing development of the baseball program in Israel since the last WBC, when only three Israelis were involved.
“Based on our participation in the WBC four years ago, we capitalized by increasing the IAB ranks by over 40 percent; hiring our executive director, Nate Fish; opening the IAB Israel Academy; increasing participation of Israeli national teams, including winning the European Championship C pool and placing third in the B pool; and, with the help of the JNF Project Baseball, raising funds to build two new fields in Bet Shemesh and Ra’anana,” Kurz said.
The affiliated players include 11 pitchers, among them Alex Katz and Brad Goldberg of the Chicago White Sox organization; Ryan Sherriff and Corey Baker (St. Louis); Jared Lakind (Pittsburgh), R.C. Orlan (Washington); Dean Kremer (Los Angeles Dodgers); Troy Neiman (Colorado); Joey Wagman (Oakland) and Tyler Herron and Josh Zeid of the New York Mets.
Position players include Boston-affiliated Cody Decker, Nate Freiman and Michael Meyers, as well as Nick Rickles and Rhett Wiseman (Washington); Scott Burcham (Colorado); Ty Kelly (New York Mets; Zach Borenstein (Arizona) and Ryan Lavarnway (Toronto).
The qualifier will open on September 22 with a doubleheader featuring Pakistan versus Brazil and Great Britain vs. Israel. Earlier this year, teams from Australia, Colombia and Mexico advanced to the 2017 WBC after winning the previous three qualifiers.
The winner of the Brooklyn qualifier will advance to the 2017 World Baseball Classic and join the 15 countries – Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Mexico, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela – that have already received invitations based on their performance in the 2013 tournament or in prior qualifiers.
The winner will be part of Pool B, which features the national teams of Chinese Taipei, Korea and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Pool B is scheduled for March 7 to March 10 at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, South Korea.
Over 800 people from age 6 play baseball in Israel in five leagues.