Most Orioles fans know about the trade that sent Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 18. But they may not realize that the Birds received a player in the deal who is the first Israeli to sign a contract with a Major League Baseball team.
The Orioles received five minor league players from the Dodgers in exchange for the All-Star shortstop, and right-handed pitcher Dean Kremer is among them.
Kremer, 22, is a native of Stockton, Calif., but his parents, Adi and Sigal Kremer, are Israeli-born citizens who served in the Israel Defense Forces. Kremer reportedly lives in Israel about two months of each year.
Kremer is the nephew of Haim Saban, an Israeli-American media proprietor and businessman who according to Forbes is worth around $3 billion.
In 2015, Kremer — who maintains dual citizenship and has most of his extended family in the Jewish state — became the first Israeli player taken in an MLB draft (by the San Diego Padres).
According to an Associated Press article published in 2015, Kremer was part of the Israeli national baseball program since the age of 14 and is fluent in Hebrew, since the language was spoken at his house. He played for the gold-medal winning Team USA in the Maccabiah Games in Israel in 2013.
“I like to represent my country in any way possible,” he told AP after the 2015 draft. “I’d love to be the person to get Israel baseball on the map.”
Kremer did not sign with San Diego after being selected in the 38th round in 2015, but went with the Dodgers when they picked him in the 14th round of the 2016 draft.
Kremer had a combined pitching record of 6-3 with an impressive 3.03 ERA, 125 strikeouts and 29 walks in 17 starts. He compiled these numbers while pitching for Rancho Cucamonga in Class A and Tulsa in Double-A in the Dodgers’ minor league system.
Kremer will report to the Double-A Bowie Baysox, which is an affiliate of the Orioles that plays in the Eastern League, and will pitch for them, starting at some point this weekend, according to Phil Wrye, the Baysox assistant general manager.
“Baseball is an international game, and we know the scouts are out there scouring the globe for talent that can play baseball,” Wrye said. “I don’t believe we’ve had someone like that here on the Baysox, but we’re excited to have him here on our ball club.”
Wrye noted that Kremer and fellow Jewish pitcher Richard Bleier — of the Orioles, who is out for the season after recently having shoulder surgery — both pitched on the Israeli team in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Ty Kelly also played on that team and was with Bowie in 2012 and 2013, but is with the New York Mets’ organization now.
Jeff Seidel is a Baltimore-based freelance writer.