Jacob Steinmetz’s blazing fastball helped make him a baseball draft trailblazer.
The New York native is believed to be the first known practicing Orthodox Jewish player to be selected by a major league team, going in the third round — 77th overall — to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday.
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Steinmetz, from the hamlet of Woodmere in Long Island, New York, is a 17-year-old right-hander whose repertoire features a fastball that sits in the mid-to-upper 90s and a knee-buckling curveball. He elevated his draft stock considerably while playing for the Elev8 Baseball Academy in Delray Beach, Florida, this year after previously competing for his high school team, The Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway of Long Island.
Steinmetz recently told the New York Post he keeps the Sabbath and eats only kosher food, but plays during the Sabbath and on Jewish holidays — although he walks to games during the Sabbath rather than taking transportation. No practicing Orthodox Jewish player has made it to the big leagues.
The selections during the nine rounds Monday were made by teams on a conference call after the first night was a prime-time event at Denver’s Bellco Theater with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announcing the picks. Major League Baseball moved the draft from June to July, including it in the All-Star festivities.
The Pittsburgh Pirates took Louisville slugging catcher Henry Davis with the No. 1 overall pick Sunday night and got him a potential future batterymate to lead off Day 2 by selecting New Jersey high school lefty Anthony Solometo at No. 37.
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