The Manny Machado trade saga came to an end this week when the Orioles agreed to a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers that sent the 26-year-old shortstop to L.A. in exchange for five prospects. One of those prospects, right-handed pitcher Dean Kremer, is notable as much for his background as he is his exploits on the diamond.
Kremer, who was born in California to Israeli parents, holds Israeli citizenship, and he became the first Israeli to sign with an MLB team after being drafted in the 14th round by the Dodgers in 2016. Like legendary Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax, he has assured reporters that he would not pitch on Yom Kippur and he takes his Jewish faith seriously. He told the Connecticut Jewish Ledger that he was raised in the Jewish tradition at home, with his parents speaking Hebrew to him throughout his life.
Though maintaining the tradition can be difficult with life in professional baseball, Kremer says that it’s an important part of his life.
“The values and morals of a Jewish person were instilled in me, and that’s the way I live my life. Growing up, we would have Shabbat dinner as often as possible,” said Kremer. “I never attended Hebrew school formally, but since my parents are Israeli, I have been speaking Hebrew my entire life.”
Kremer has worn his roots with pride, pitching for the Israeli national baseball team in the 2014 European Championships and in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He also helped Team USA win a gold medal in the 2013 Maccabiah Games in Israel. As the first Israeli citizen to sign with an MLB team, Kremer is hoping that his success in baseball will help the sport grow in Israel.
“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.
With an even greater opportunity to be the first Israeli to make a major league roster now as a potential future Orioles star, Kremer is sure to gain even more attention from his parents’ native country. Peter Kurz, president of the Israel Association of Baseball, told MLB.com in 2016 that Kremer is “a great role model” for aspiring baseball players in Israel.
“He lives in both worlds,” Kurz said. “Among Israelis, he is a real Sabra [native-born Israeli], and among Americans, he is a real Yankee. All the people involved in baseball in Israel keep close track of his career, and we are very proud of him, even though he didn’t grow up here.”
Following the trade to Baltimore, Kremer is ranked as the Orioles 13th-best prospect, and the seventh-best pitching prospect by MLB.com. This season, split across High-A and Double-A, he has compiled a 6-3 record with a 3.03 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 125 strikeouts against just 29 walks in 86 innings of work.