First Orthodox Jewish Player Drafted to MLB

MLB.com ranked 17-year-old Jacob Steinmetz as the 121st best major league prospect, so he was picked far earlier than expected ■ Steinmetz keeps kosher and observes Shabbat, but he also pitches on the Sabbath

JTA
JTA
The Arizona Diamondbacks celebrate after beating the Colorado Rockies at Chase Field, last week
The Arizona Diamondbacks celebrate after beating the Colorado Rockies at Chase Field, last weekCredit: Matt Kartozian/ REUTERS
JTA
JTA

The Arizona Diamondbacks drafted Long Island, New York native Jacob Steinmetz 77th overall in the third round of the Major League Baseball draft on Monday. He’s the first known observant Orthodox player to be picked the league’s draft.

MLB.com ranked the 17-year-old as the 121st best major league prospect, so he was picked far earlier than expected.

Steinmetz, a 6-foot-5, 220 pound pitcher, spent the past year at ELEV8 Baseball Academy in Florida, honing his pitching skills while attending The Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway in Long Island via Zoom. His fastball has reportedly reached as high as 97 miles per hour.

Steinmetz keeps kosher and observes Shabbat, but he also pitches on the Sabbath. To avoid using transportation on Shabbat, he has in the past booked hotels close enough to games that he can walk to them, the New York Post reported.

Starting pitchers in the big leagues only pitch every five days, so his schedule could theoretically be planned to skip Shabbat.

Steinmetz comes from an athletic family — his father Elliot played basketball at Yeshiva University and is now the New York school’s basketball coach. He had coached the team to record success before the pandemic.

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