(JTA) — When Zack Gelof makes his MLB debut for the Oakland Athletics, which could happen as soon as Friday night, he will become the 18th Jewish player to appear in the big leagues this season.
That is likely an all-time record, topping last season’s group of 17, according to info compiled by the Jewish Baseball News, a site that tracks Jewish baseball players.
Gelof, who played for Team Israel in this year’s World Baseball Classic, entered the season as Oakland’s No. 3 prospect. The 23-year-old infielder excelled in Triple-A, posting a .304 batting average with 12 home runs, 44 runs batted in and 20 stolen bases. His .930 on-base-plus-slugging-percentage led the Las Vegas Aviators.
The Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, native joins the A’s just two years after being selected 60th overall in the 2021 MLB Draft. Zack’s younger brother Jake, a fellow alum of the University of Virginia, was taken 60th overall last weekend by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was one of six Jewish players drafted this year.
J. the Jewish News of Northern California reported earlier this year that Gelof did not have a bar mitzvah but grew up attending Hebrew school in their Seaside Jewish Community. He and Jake could both represent Israel in 2026.
Gelof will join a talented group of Jewish players who have played in the MLB this year. Some, like Max Fried and Alex Bregman, are considered among the best players in the game. Others, like Spencer Horwitz and Zack Weiss, played in only a handful of games before being sent back down to the minor leagues.
Here are the other 17 Jewish players, with the team for which they most recently played:
- Pitchers: Jake Bird (Colorado Rockies), Richard Bleier (Boston Red Sox), Fried (Atlanta Braves), Dean Kremer (Baltimore Orioles), Eli Morgan (Cleveland Guardians), Ryan Sherriff (Boston Red Sox), Jared Shuster (Atlanta Braves), Weiss (Los Angeles Angels)
- Infielders: Bregman (Houston Astros), Matt Mervis (Chicago Cubs), Garrett Stubbs (Philadelphia Phillies), Rowdy Tellez (Milwaukee Brewers)
- Outfielders: Harrison Bader (New York Yankees), Dalton Guthrie (Philadelphia Phillies), Kevin Pillar (Atlanta Braves)
- Designated Hitters: Horwitz (Toronto Blue Jays), Joc Pederson (San Francisco Giants)
Jewish fans celebrated the news of Gelof’s historic call-up.
With several months remaining in the MLB season, it’s possible Gelof will not be the last Jewish player to appear this year. There are more than a dozen Jewish players currently playing in Triple-A, including many with previous MLB experience.
Fellow Team Israel alumni Brandon Gold, a pitcher in the Rockies system, and Evan Kravetz, a pitcher in the Cincinnati Reds organization, could make their debuts later this season when MLB rosters expand in September. Pitcher Zack Leban, infielder Jake Scheiner and infielder Chase Strumpf are also playing in Triple-A and have yet to appear in the major leagues.
Scott Effross, a relief pitcher for the New York Yankees, could have added to the historic total but has been out all season after undergoing elbow surgery.