Jacob Steinmetz has accomplished every young baseball player’s dream: being drafted into major league baseball. The 17-year-old was selected in the third round by the Arizona Diamondbacks as the 77th pick overall.
This did not happen by chance, however. Jacob is a highly skilled ballplayer and has worked hard on his craft. Standing at 6’6” and 222 pounds, Jacob certainly has the frame to compete at the highest level of the sport. His fastball currently sits at around 90-94 MPH, but is destined to improve with training and conditioning. His curveball drops off a table and leaves hitters buckled. He is currently working on a change-up that will drastically improve his game and would leave him almost unhittable.
Jacob was turning heads as a high school player when he played for HAFTR. He was the last pitcher many teams wanted to face because they knew they would not be scoring many runs whenever he was on the mound. Having been on MLB scouts’ radars even during his high school games, Jacob really made a name for himself while playing with the Elev8 Baseball Academy down in Delray Beach, Florida. In Florida the scouting presence was even greater and Jacob oftentimes found himself playing in front of 20-30 scouts at any given time. He did not let the opportunity to showcase his skills in front of major league scouts go to waste. Jacob ratcheted up his fastball velocity to the mid to upper 90s and scouts took notice. This showcase of his potential elevated his draft stock considerably and ultimately led to him being drafted 77th overall.
Incredibly, with this achievement, Jacob becomes the first known practicing Orthodox Jew to ever be drafted. Keeping Shabbat and only eating kosher, Jacob has faced challenges in balancing his faith and his passion. “It’s never been frustrating to me,” Steinmetz said with regard to juggling baseball and Judaism. “It’s just something I’ve always done. It makes me who I am. It’s definitely made my life different, but in a good way.” Exhibiting incredible character with his commitment to religion, Jacob has also not let baseball hinder his academics. While down in Florida, Jacob “Zoomed” into school and kept up with his work. He finished the year with a 3.80 GPA.
Jacob’s accomplishment proves that with the right work ethic and mindset anything is possible, and that extenuating circumstances only get in your way if you allow them. Jacob has become a role model in the Orthodox Jewish community and rightfully so. His position is that of a vanguard in the world of Jewish accomplishments. “It’s a great opportunity for him to continue to evolve as a leader and continue to show people you can break down certain walls, do certain things and not have to necessarily sacrifice your background for it,” Jacob’s father said. “I think he’s the right kid for it, just because he has a good head on his shoulders and he’s mentally tough. Hopefully, he’s able to be a light for everybody else.”
In the final round of the MLB draft, a second Orthodox Jew, Elie Kligman of Nevada, was selected by the Washington Nationals. According to MLB.com, Kligman, 18, recently switched to playing catcher but has also played shortstop and reportedly throws 90 mph as a pitcher. He switch-hits as well, a skill that significantly boosts his future value.
Kligman’s father is a baseball agent and was travelling with the Team Israel baseball team when he got the news, which he then shared with the team. “Congrats to Elie Kligman on getting drafted by the @Nationals! We’re all proud of him! #blueandwhite_baseball,” Israel Baseball Tweeted.
Caleb Lippe is a Jewish Link summer intern and a student at Rutgers Business School.