Jonathan Broxton celebrates with catcher Brad Ausmus on Sept. 26, 2009. (Gene J. Puskar / Associated…)
Israel might be the name on the front of the jersey, but the Team Israel entry in next week's World Baseball Classic qualifier might well be called Team L.A.
Of the 28 players on the roster, three are from Israel and 10 from the Los Angeles area. Israeli baseball officials have stocked the roster with Jewish minor leaguers in the hope of advancing into the main WBC field next year, adding a Ryan Braun or Kevin Youkilis to the roster and attracting enough attention in Israel to generate interest in the sport.
For now, the success of Team Israel will depend on Americans. Former Dodgers catcher Brad Ausmus is the manager, and the star players are former major leaguers Shawn Green and Gabe Kapler.
Under Israeli law, anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent is eligible for citizenship, and to play for the Israeli team.
Of the 14 position players on the roster, Green (Tustin) and Kapler (Taft) are among eight who played high school ball in the Southland. The others: catcher Jack Marder (Newbury Park) and infielders Cody Decker (Santa Monica), Casey Haerther (Chaminade), Jake Lemmerman (Corona del Mar), Ben Orloff (Simi Valley) and Josh Satin (Harvard-Westlake).
The Southland pitchers: Jeff Kaplan (Dana Point) and Brett Lorin (Dana Hills).
Israel opens WBC play against South Africa on Wednesday. The four-team field also includes France and Spain, with the winner advancing into the main event next spring.
In a July Los Angeles Times report, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said: "I think the Israeli story will be one of the great stories of the WBC."
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