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From Mideast to AL East: Orioles’ Israeli prospect blooms

Dean Kremer is a budding celebrity in Israel and a developing star in the big leagues

Via AP news wire
Saturday 26 September 2020 16:36 BST
Rays Orioles Baseball
Rays Orioles Baseball (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Dean Kremer is a budding celebrity in Israel and a developing star in the big leagues.

Kremer this month became the first Israeli citizen to pitch in the majors. Not only that, the Baltimore Orioles prospect tossed six innings of one-hit ball in a starting role against the storied New York Yankees striking out seven in a 5-1 victory.

Several reporters and friends from Israel participated in the postgame Zoom call, offering congratulations and even getting Kremer to speak a little Hebrew in a message to followers far from Baltimore.

Now, four games into his big league career and done pitching in a season that ends Sunday for the Orioles, Kremer took delight in reflecting upon a whirlwind three weeks of fame and success.

“It’s been a dream come true, to say the least," he said. “It’s been really fun. The guys have welcomed me into a warm clubhouse. Anything and everything you could imagine it would be, it is -- except for no fans."

Kremer, 24, was born in California to Israeli parents. In 2015, the earned the distinction of becoming the first Israeli to be drafted into the major leagues when the San Diego Padres took him in the 38th round. Kremer stayed in college, and signed the following year with the Los Angeles Dodgers after being selected in the 14th round.

He became part of the 2018 trade that sent Manny Machado to LA, and now Kremer is part of a young rotation for the rebuilding Orioles.

The right-hander also serves as an example for every baseball player in Israel, and has captured the attention of many Jewish fans in the United States.

“I'm definitely feeling the love both from the Jewish-Americans here and the Israelis over there," Kremer said. “Especially the media over there and the Baseball Academy over there. I’m happy to break the barrier, so to speak, not that I think there is one. But I can deal with that responsibility."

After beating the Yankees in his debut on Sept. 6, Kremer faced New York again at Yankee Stadium six days later. He struck out seven again, allowing one run in five innings but was not involved in the decision. An effective outing against Tampa Bay followed, but Kremer wrapped up his season by getting hit hard in a loss to Boston at Fenway Park.

He finished 1-1 with a 4.82 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings — good enough to put Kremer in the running to stick around in 2021.

“I was really high on him in spring training,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “I liked his pitch mix, I liked how he attacked guys in big league spring training games, and he’s been even more impressive in these (September) games.

“You never really know how someone’s going to react until they’re pitching in a big league stadium, and I think he’s a real confident guy who trusts his stuff. I like his mound presence."

Kremer also demonstrated the ability to fulfill the obligation of being the first Israeli citizen to pitch in the big leagues.

“Sometimes I look at it as, I’m just another guy playing," he said. “And sometimes I look at it as the torchbearer, so to speak."

The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Kremer pitched for the Israeli national team in the 2014 European Championships and in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He also played for the gold-medal winning Team USA in the 2013 Maccabiah Games in Israel.

This year has been a decidedly different experience, and not just because the high level of competition.

“I haven’t experienced the big leagues the way most guys have because there were no fans in the stands," Kremer said. “The WBC was so awesome. The stadiums were packed all the time. I really enjoyed myself. I look forward to seeing it when the fans come back, to see how rowdy it gets."


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