Magnificent MLB debut by Dean Kremer

First Israeli by birth to reach majors stymies Yankees for win • Pitcher hopes to inspire blue-and-white youth

Baltimore Orioles Israeli pitcher Dean Kremer (photo credit: EVAN HABEEB-USA TODAY SPORTS/REUTERS)
Baltimore Orioles Israeli pitcher Dean Kremer
Dean Kremer, Israel’s first Major League Baseball pitcher, made a sparkling debut for Baltimore as the Orioles defeated the New York Yankees 5-1 at Camden Yards on Sunday night.
Born in California to Israeli parents, the 24-year-old righty recorded the win, going six innings with seven strikeouts – which was the most by an Orioles pitcher in his MLB debut in over two decades – and gave up only one base hit to go along with three walks.
“It’s a dream come true,” Kremer said following the victory. “We practice every day for years to get to this point, so it’s really a dream come true.”
Kremer, who was part of the 60-man pool put together in July for the 2020 season, joined the Orioles in 2018 as part of the Manny Machado trade with Dodgers. Originally selected by the San Diego Padres in the 38th round of the 2015 MLB draft, the Stockton native decided to attend UNLV and went back into the pool the following year, where the Dodgers snagged him in the 14th round. After signing with LA, Kremer made his professional debut that summer in the Rookie Pioneer League and continued to move up the minor league ladder.
When the call came from general manager Mike Elias and manager Brandon Hyde that Kremer would be heading to Baltimore to make his first Major League start, he couldn’t contain his excitement.
“I found out at 10:30 p.m. [on Saturday] when I got the call from Mike and Brandon and they said ‘You want to come pitch tomorrow? Sure, absolutely’ I said. I was excited and I got enough sleep, but my mind was racing. All I was trying to do was to just try and focus on the work of pitching.”
Kremer got off to a hot start striking out the first two batters he faced in a 1-2-3 opening frame. However, the second inning saw the flamethrower tested as the Yankees threatened, but Kremer was able to keep his composure and get out of the jam.
“I was really impressed as to how he pitched in the second inning where he showed his character and poise,” explained Hyde. “He had a great first inning, he made the adjustments he had to and kept it a one-run game. It showed a lot about his character and confidence.”
Facing the Bronx Bombers in your first game is never an easy feat despite having some of their big bats including Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton on the shelf.
“They are a storied franchise and they have power hitters and guys good with the bat,” said Kremer. “I was just happy that I could compete.”
Kremer credited his battery-mate Bryan Holoday for coming up with a game plan in his first start.
“He was awesome and he read my mind the entire game. He put together a great game plan which we went over before the contest and I couldn’t have asked for a better battery mate back there. He helped me relax throughout the game.”
Holoday gave the credit all to the man of the hour.
“I thought he did a tremendous job keeping his composure out there. He just attacked the strike zone and stuck to his strengths. He maintained his composure and he really acted like he’s been there before. That presence he brought was huge. You wouldn’t have been able to tell it was his first time out there. That speaks a lot to his character and absolutely helps his talent come out on the field.”
At one point, Kremer pitched his way out of a bases-loaded jam and then went on to retire the next 11 Yankees batters.
Of course, Kremer has faced adversity in the past when he featured for Israel in the World Baseball Classic in 2017 along with the competitions qualifying rounds. He also picked up a number of awards representing the blue-and-white in the European Championships.
But being the first Israeli to record a win is a whole different ball game as the next generation of Sabras now have a role model to look up to.
“It’s awesome being able to hold a torch so to speak” said Kremer. “I may have been born in America, but I have been to Israel many times and it’s great to see the competition getting better over there. But I’m not the only Israeli now as we have some big leaguers in Ryan Lavarnway (who became the first Israeli earlier this summer to play in an MLB game), Danny Valencia and Ian Kinsler, who will play in the Olympics.”
Israel Baseball was, of course, thrilled with Kremer’s debut.
"It is with tremendous pride that I watched as a product of our youth and adult national programs excelled in his MLB debut against the New York Yankees," Jordy Alter, the president of the Israeli Association of Baseball said. "We have watched Dean grow up as a member of our national teams, often outperforming our competition, and it was great to share this gift with the world tonight. The IAB and Israel Olympic team look forward to watching Dean in what promises to be a long and successful MLB career."
As for his MLB future, Hyde plans on keeping Kremer around for the balance of the season.
“He’s going to stay and we’re going to take a look this month. He’s one of the starters we acquired with high hopes. We really liked what he did in spring training and we really like his stuff and makeup.”
Kremer understands that he will now be a guiding light for all of those youngsters back in the Holy Land, who dream of one day putting on a major league uniform and walk onto the field of dreams.
“We just want to show the kids back in Israel that it’s possible to get here.”