Before new Orioles pitching prospect Dean Kremer made headlines for being one of the five players the Los Angeles Dodgers shipped to the Orioles for infielder Manny Machado July 18, he made history two years earlier for a different reason.
Kremer, who was born in California, became the first Israeli player to earn a contract with a major league organization when the right-hander was drafted by the Dodgers in the 14th round of the 2016 MLB Draft.
"[I'm] very grateful to be able to say I'm the first to do something positive in being the first Israeli to sign a pro contract," Kremer said on
Glenn Clark Radio
Kremer holds Israeli citizenship and split time between California and Israel growing up. Kremer said he wants to "lead the way" in showing the Jewish and Israeli communities that it's possible to be successful in sports.
The 22-year-old made a name for himself internationally when he helped Team USA win a gold medal at the 2013 Maccabiah Games in Israel. He also competed for the Israeli national team during the 2014 European Championships and pitched during a 2017 World Baseball Classic qualifier.
Like Dodgers pitching great Sandy Koufax, Kremer said he would not pitch if one of his starts fell on the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur. Koufax famously chose not to start Game 1 of the 1965 World Series for the Dodgers because it fell on the Jewish Day of Atonement. The Dodgers lost, but Koufax was hailed by the Jewish community for his commitment to his faith.
"I couldn't do it," Kremer said of having to pitch on the holiday, "Although I'm not the most religious, I do like to know a lot about my heritage."
On the field, Kremer has had a strong year, posting a 3.30 ERA during 79 innings with High-A Rancho Cucamonga before being traded. Kremer said he attributes his success to trusting what he sees and letting the pitch count and batters' swings dictate what he throws.
"I wouldn't say I have an out pitch, [but] ... I definitely have my go-tos, which are my fastball and my curveball," Kremer said. "And if I don't have those, it's usually not my best start."
Kremer has appeared to bring his "go-to" pitches with him from California. The right-hander has won twice during three starts for the Bowie Baysox, posting a 2.25 ERA with just four earned runs allowed.
For Kremer, leaving the team that drafted him was "bittersweet."
"They turned me into what I am today," Kremer said.
Infielder Rylan Bannon, outfielder Yusniel Diaz and pitcher Zach Pop -- all of whom are playing for Bowie -- were also traded to the Orioles for Machado. That's eased Kremer's transition to the organization.
"Throwing me in a new team all by myself, I don't know how that would've turned out, but I'm very grateful to be with Rylan, Yusniel and Zach," he said.
Infielder Breyvic Valera was the fifth player the Orioles received for Machado.
With just a few weeks remaining, Kremer said his goal for the rest of the season is to string together strong starts and "not allow the team to score ever," he joked.
"That's what I strive to do," Kremer said, "but realistically it's going to happen eventually."
For more from Kremer, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: William Vaughan/Bowie Baysox