TEL AVIV – The Los Angeles Dodgers signed Dean Kremer Tuesday, marking the first time an Israeli has joined a Major League Baseball team.
The 20-year-old Israeli-American was drafted as the team’s right-handed pitcher in the 14th round of this month’s 2016 MLB draft.
Kremer, who was raised in Stockton, California by Israeli parents, was picked in the 38th round in 2015 by the San Diego Padres but did not sign with the team.
“I was born here in the United States, but I go back and practically live [in Israel] for two months out of the year in the summer, so it’s definitely home,” Kremer told the Las Vegas Review Journal in February.
For the past three years, Kremer has played for Israel’s national team. In 2013, he played for Team USA in the Maccabiah Games in Israel.
“In 2011, I learned that the Israeli national team was coached by Pat Doyle, who is also from Stockton. Pat told me to check it out and I went to a few practices. In the Summer of 2013, I played on the U.S. team at the Maccabiah Games in Israel,” Kremer told Jewish Baseball News in 2014.
“They saw me play there, and invited me to join Team Israel for the 2014 European Championships.”
Kremer’s pitching saw Israel advance from the European C Pool in 2014 to the B Pool in 2015 – a feat that got him named European baseball championship’s most valuable pitcher for the last two years.
Even though there have been plenty of Jewish baseball stars, Kremer is the first Israeli to be drafted by an MLB team.
This summer he will play for the Dodgers’ Rookie League team, the first of six leagues he will have to progress through to make it onto the major league roster, Haaretz reported.
“I am very excited and honored to be a part of such a great organization, in the Dodgers,” Kremer said.
“I felt that I was ready this year to start my career so I am taking advantage of the opportunity I was given. 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.