BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Baltimore Orioles announced Sunday that pitcher Dean Kremer, one of the organization’s top prospects, will make his major league debut Sunday in a start against the New York Yankees. In doing so, he becomes the first Israeli citizen to reach the majors.
Kremer is ranked as the O’s 10th best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He has risen quickly through the ranks of the organization since arriving in Baltimore as part of the Manny Machado trade in 2017. He assumes the roster position of pitcher David Hess, who was optioned Saturday night, and takes the rotation spot of Asher Wojciechowski.
Kremer came close to reaching the big leagues last year when he posted a 3.72 ERA with 122 strikeouts over 113 2/3 innings across three levels ending at Triple-A. He was particularly effective as part of the rotation at Double-A Bowie, going 9-4 in 15 starts for the team.
Kremer was born in California to Israeli parents and holds Israeli citizenship. 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.
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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,” he told the Connecticut Jewish Ledger in 2016. “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.”