Dean Kremer Is the First Israeli to Sign With an MLB Team

Kremer, who was born in California to Israeli parents and holds Israeli citizenship, was selected this week by the Los Angeles Dodgers as their 14th-round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft.

Dean Kremer.
Margo Sugarman

Dean Kremer has become the first Israeli to sign a contract with a team from Major League Baseball in the United States.

Israeli American Dean Kremer reported for his first day with the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 14. Kremer, who was born in California to Israeli parents and holds Israeli citizenship, was selected this week by the Dodgers as their 14th-round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft.

Kremer will play this summer on the Dodgers’ Rookie League team, the first of six levels of the minor leagues he will need to get through before making the Dodgers’ Major League roster.

The right-handed pitcher, who has been playing for Israel’s national teams for the past three years, made history a year ago when he became the first Israeli to be drafted in Major League Baseball by the San Diego Padres. However, he honored his commitment to University Nevada Las Vegas, where he went 4-5 with a 4.92 ERA in 12 starts.

Kremer amassed 46 strikeouts while yielding just 21 walks in 92+ innings for the Runnin’ Rebels. Staying in college made him eligible for this month’s draft, so he opted to start his professional career now.

Kremer began his relationship with Israeli baseball when he played for the gold medal winning Team USA in the Maccabiah Games in Israel in 2013.

The team was coached by Nate Fish, who is currently the head national team coach for Israel Baseball. Fish invited Kremer back to Israel to join the senior national team to play in the C-Pool of the 2014 European Championships.

Kremer was named most valuable pitcher of the tournament at that championship, and helped Team Israel to victory and into the B-Pool. Kremer then played for Team Israel in the B-Pool last year, and once again was named the tournament’s most valuable pitcher.

Kremer is in contention to be a member of Team Israel to play in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers to take place in Brooklyn in September. The final roster will be decided by Team Israel’s manager, Jerry Weinstein, by August 22.

“I am very excited and honored to be a part of such a great organization, in the Dodgers,” Kremer said.

“I felt that I was ready this year to start my career so I am taking advantage of the opportunity I was given. I just hope that the higher I go up in the system, the more baseball will become popular in Israel. I just want to set the example that it can be done,” Kremer said.

Many prominent Jewish players have played for the Dodgers, the most notable being Sandy Koufax in the 1960s. Kremer could one day find himself playing alongside Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson, who played for Team Israel in the 2012 WBC qualifier. Dodgers farm director Gabe Kapler was part of the 2012 WBC qualifier coaching staff for Team Israel.

“This is a major achievement and the whole of Israel Baseball is cheering him on,” said Israel Association of Baseball President and National Director Peter Kurz.

“Ever since I first met Dean five years ago when he was a skinny teenager, he’s played for Team Israel, worked at our summer camps and while we can’t take credit for his great baseball, we are always proud to say that he is part of the Israel baseball family,” Kurz said.