Dean Kremer pitches against Nicaragua in Israel's first game of the 2023 World Baseball Classic, March 12, 2023, in Miami. (Photo/JTA-Courtesy Team Israel)
Dean Kremer pitches against Nicaragua in Israel's first game of the 2023 World Baseball Classic, March 12, 2023, in Miami. (Photo/JTA-Courtesy Team Israel)

Three Bay Area Jews, including Giants’ Joc, step up to the plate for Team Israel at World Baseball Classic 

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Team Israel exited the 2023 World Baseball Classic with a losing record earlier this week, but not before receiving notable contributions from three players from Northern California. Israel’s national baseball team consists primarily of American Jews who either obtained Israeli citizenship or are eligible for it.

Joc Pederson, a 30-year-old Palo Alto native and outfielder for the San Francisco Giants, patrolled centerfield for Team Israel over the course of three games. Pederson struggled offensively, though he did notch a double in nine trips to the plate. He also made a sensational tumbling catch to take away a hit from Ketel Marte of the Dominican Republic.

Dean Kremer, a 27-year-old right-handed pitcher from Stockton, took the ball for Israel in the team’s opening 3-1 win over Nicaragua.

“Playing for Team Israel, anytime I get to put on that uniform is special for me,” Kremer told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. An Israeli citizen, Kremer grew up speaking Hebrew with his Israeli-born parents and traveled to Israel nearly every summer. “It’s like another home,” he said. “So, every time I get to represent it’s one of the better feelings.”

A member of the Baltimore Orioles pitching staff, Kremer proved effective at the WBC, striking out four hitters in four scoreless innings while allowing three hits and one walk.

Joey Wagman, a 31-year-old pitcher from Danville, also toed the rubber for Team Israel. He pitched 1⅓ innings, allowing two runs on two hits and three walks.

baseball player throwing a baseball
Joey Wagman delivers a pitch during a Team Israel win over South Africa in an Olympic qualifying game in 2019. (Photo/Margo Sugarman-Israel Association of Baseball)

In Israel’s lone victory, Nicaragua carried a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning right before Israel’s bats came alive, scoring three runs to complete the thrilling comeback victory. 

Following the win over Nicaragua, Israel scored only one additional run over the next three games. Israel lost 10-0 to both Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic in games that were cut short by the WBC mercy rule.

Despite the 1-3 record, Israel will automatically qualify for the 2026 tournament. 

Another highlight for Israel was a breakout pitching performance by 19-year-old Orthodox prospect Jacob Steinmetz, who struck out three Dominican All-Stars.

Pederson and Kremer now return to their respective major league squads as they prepare for the 2023 regular season. Pederson and the Giants open their campaign on March 30 against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

Michael Gutnick
Michael Gutnick

Michael Gutnick is a freelance journalist based in San Jose. He graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University in 2021 with a BA in sports journalism.