Orthodox prospect Jacob Steinmetz shines for Team Israel in World Baseball Classic loss


MIAMI (JTA) — The final result wasn’t pretty for Israel, but it almost didn’t matter. This night belongs to Jacob Steinmetz.

The 19-year-old Woodmere, New York, native and the first Orthodox Jew to be drafted into Major League Baseball, Steinmetz took the ball for Israel against the Dominican Republic Tuesday in a 10-0 loss in the World Baseball Classic.

The Dominican lineup features big league superstars like Juan Soto, Manny Machado, Rafael Devers and others. Steinmetz entered the game with only 25.1 innings of experience in professional baseball, all in the Arizona Complex League with the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. He became the fourth youngest player to start a WBC game.

You wouldn’t know it. Steinmetz struck out three batters, including Machado, a six-time All-Star, and Jeremy Peña, the 2022 World Series most valuable player. He gave up two hits and one run in an inning and a third while facing the Dominicans’ entire lineup.

“It was awesome,” Steinmetz said after the game. “Coming out here in front of a sold-out stadium, with all the Dominican fans and the Israel fans, was something that I’ll never forget.”

Steinmetz said he felt nerves while warming up and coming out to the field. But once he stepped onto the mound, “it’s just a regular baseball game.”

Steinmetz’s performance ignited Jewish baseball Twitter, with fans marveling at the opportunity to watch the Orthodox prospect on national television. The Israel Baseball Twitter account churned out post after post about the young pitcher.

“It was just unbelievably surreal to watch a kid from our community pitching to those caliber of players on such a big stage,” said Simmy Cohen, an Orthodox sports fan from New Jersey. “I think a lot of the fans were more nervous than he was. But he kept his composure and showed excellent stuff. I was extremely impressed.”

Steinmetz said the support means a lot to him.

“Just seeing all that is awesome, knowing there will always be people behind me,” he said.

Israel manager Ian Kinsler said the start was an important confidence booster for Steinmetz.

“You saw the talent that he has tonight,” Kinsler said. “It’s a good experience for him, the loudest environment he’s ever going to pitch in.”

Tuesday was otherwise a forgettable night for Israel. Held to only one hit a day after being no-hit, Israel lost in seven innings in a second consecutive game ended early by the WBC mercy rule. Israeli batters struck out 10 times.

Israel will face Venezuela tomorrow at 12 p.m. ET in its final WBC game, with Robert Stock starting.

With Nicaragua’s loss earlier Tuesday, Israel will officially finish above last place in Pool D, meaning it won’t advance in this year’s tournament but will automatically qualify for the 2026 WBC.

“That’s big for the organization,” Kinsler said.