Brian Horwitz

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Brian Horwitz
Free agent
Outfielder
Born: (1982-11-07) November 7, 1982 (age 31)
Santa Monica, California
Bats: Right Throws: Right
MLB debut
May 30, 2008 for the San Francisco Giants
Career statistics
(through 2008 season)
Batting average .222
Home runs 2
Runs batted in 4
Teams

Brian Jeffery Horwitz, nicknamed "The Rabbi",[1][2] (born November 7, 1982, in Santa Monica, California) is an American baseball outfielder who is currently a free agent. He has won two minor league batting titles and made his Major League debut in 2008.

Jewish heritage[edit]

According to Baseball Almanac, Horwitz was the 159th Jewish player to make the majors.[3] Horwitz became the first Jewish player to play with the Giants since the 19951996 tenure of pitcher Jose Bautista, and the eighth since they moved to San Francisco.[2][4] In 1923, the New York Giants tried to trump up publicity by advertising Mose Solomon as "The Rabbi of Swat," playing across town from Babe Ruth, "The Sultan of Swat."[3] Horwitz joined, among other Jewish major leaguers, Brad Ausmus, Kevin Youkilis, Ian Kinsler, Ryan Braun, Gabe Kapler, Jason Marquis, Jason Hirsh, John Grabow, Craig Breslow, and Scott Schoeneweis.[5] Horwitz credited one set of grandparents for “instilling a lot of Jewish traits in our family.” “I still love my religion,” said Horwitz. He played in the JCC Maccabi Games when he was 15 and 16, leading his LA-area team to national titles in 1996 and 1997.[4]

In 2009, he was one of the ballplayers honored in the fifth edition of Jewish Major Leaguers baseball cards.[6]

Baseball career[edit]

High school[edit]

At Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino, California, Horwitz was Mission League MVP, All-Valley, and first team All-CIF Division I as a senior, batting .415. He helped lead his team to three straight league titles.

Summer leagues[edit]

In the summer of 2001, he played for the Peninsula Oilers in the Alaska Baseball League, and in the summer of 2002 he played for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks, then known as the Hyannis Mets, in the Cape Cod League.

College (2001–04)[edit]

As a freshman right fielder for the University of California at Berkeley Bears, where he majored in American History, in 2001 he batted .310, and had a team-best 11 stolen bases. He had a school record 23-game hitting streak. He had 6 outfield assists on the season. He was an honorable mention Freshman All-American in Collegiate Baseball. As a sophomore in 2002, he hit .266. In 2003 as a junior, he hit .347 with a team-leading 47 RBIs (including a school record 8 on February 14, 2003)[7] and a .405 OBP and a .535 slugging percentage. He batted .400 with runners in scoring position, and was Pac-10 honorable mention and honorable mention Pac-10 All-Academic.

He was drafted in the 26th round by the Oakland Athletics in the June 2003 draft, but did not sign.

As a senior he dropped down to .288 and though he kept his OBP at .400, he wasn't drafted. "The two days of the draft were probably the worst two days of my life," he said. "I've kind of been doubted my whole career, and that's fine with me. It fuels the fire."[3]

He had all the forms ready for chiropractic school, but he wanted the experience of playing pro ball for a half-summer, so he took the San Francisco Giants' offer of a uniform and $1,000 and signed as a non-drafted free agent in June of 2004. "I used it to pay my phone bill," he said.[8]

Minor leagues (2004–10)[edit]

Horwitz won two titles in two years in the minor leagues.[9]

In 2004, Horwitz won the Northwest League batting title with a .347 average, the second-best in team history, playing for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in the Northwest League, and had a .407 OBP. He also earned a spot on the league All-Star team, led the league in hits (93), and set a franchise mark with 24 doubles.

In 2005, he hit .349 (the 2nd-highest batting average of all minor leaguers with 400 or more at bats)[10] for the Augusta GreenJackets in the South Atlantic League, and won his second consecutive batting title, while sporting a .415 OBP. He had 50 walks, while striking out only 39 times in 470 at-bats, and also led the league with 38 doubles. In addition, he had 8 outfield assists. He was also MVP of the 2005 California League Championship Series.[11] Baseball America dubbed him the player with the best strike-zone discipline in the Giants' organization.[3]

In 2006, he spent nearly half the season at San Jose of the California League, where he hit .324 with a .414 OBP. He spent most of the rest of the season with the Double-A Connecticut Defenders, where he hit .286 with a .365 OBP, and ended the season with a handful of at-bats with the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies.

In 2007, he was a non-roster invitee to the Giants' spring training,[12] but the Giants ultimately assigned him to the Connecticut Defenders.[13] In 35 games for the team, he hit .309 with a .371 on-base percentage.[14] In late May, he was promoted to the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies.[15] He hit .326 for the Grizzlies with a .383 on-base percentage in 84 games.[16]

The 2008 Baseball Prospect Handbook said:

"all he does is spray hits wherever he plays. He won batting titles in his first two seasons, and didn't slow down once he hit Triple-A Fresno last year, hitting .326 after a mid-season promotion. Every manager for whom he has played has become his biggest fan. Horwitz has a great two-strike approach, loves the opposite field, and doesn't strike out, despite a swing that can get a bit long and choppy. He ... is better suited defensively for left field... it's hard to find a more dedicated worker..."[17]

Horwitz started 2008 with Fresno, and was hitting .294 with a .351 OBP in 44 games when he was called up to the major leagues. In 2009 with Fresno he batted .290 with 10 doubles, 4 home runs, and 26 RBIs in 76 games before his season was cut short with a left rib cage muscle strain.

In his minor league career through 2009, Horwitz had a .316 batting average, .387 OBP, and in 2,104 at-bats had 130 doubles, 279 RBIs, 223 walks, and 243 strikeouts.

In the December 2009 Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft, the Giants lost Horwitz, who was claimed by the Cleveland Indians with the fourth pick of the draft.[18] "This is good for him. I'm happy for him," Giants vice president of player personnel Dick Tidrow said. "He's a good kid. He's a good hitter and needs a change of scenery. He did good things for us and himself. Now he's reborn. He can go over there, show his stuff and maybe get back to the big leagues."[19] "He's a right-handed-hitting corner outfielder, something we have a need for, obviously," John Mirabelli, the Indians' assistant general manager in charge of scouting said. "He can handle the bat. He did pretty well in a small sample in the big leagues. He'll go to Columbus and give us some depth where we need it."[20]

In 2010, Horwitz played in spring training with the Indians, and then in six games for Cleveland's AAA team before he was released on April 20.[4][5]

Major leagues (2008)[edit]

Horwitz was a non-roster invitee to 2008 Giants spring training.[21] In March, the Giants re-assigned him to their minor league camp.[22]

On May 30, 2008, the Giants purchased his contract from Triple-A when Dan Ortmeier went on the DL with a broken finger.[23]

Horwitz hit his first major league home run on June 2, 2008, off New York Mets starting pitcher Óliver Pérez. He was mobbed in the dugout afterward. "There was a lot of love in that dugout," Horwitz said. "It adds to the experience. That's a great group of guys here and I just love being a part of this team."[8] "Unbelievable," Horwitz said of his Major League experience. "It’s extraordinary, surreal. It’s an out-of-body experience. I’m really enjoying being here. How could you complain?"[1]

After hitting .304 in his first 21 at-bats, Horwitz went 1-for-15 and was sent down to Fresno for more playing time on July 6, 2008.

Tools[edit]

Horwitz is a pure hitter with excellent hand eye coordination, the ability to hit well for average, and doubles power. In 2007, Baseball America voted him as having the best strike zone discipline in the Giants minor league organization.[24] He has solid defensive tools, good instincts, a quick first step, and a strong and accurate arm.

Awards[edit]

  • 2004 – Northwest League Post-Season All-Star OF
  • 2005 – South Atlantic League Player of the Week (4/17)
  • 2005 – SAL All-Star OF
  • 2005 – SAL Player of the Week (8/7)
  • 2005 – Topps SAL Player of the Month (8/31)
  • 2005 – SAL Post-Season All-Star OF

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Baseball’s New ‘Rabbi’". Forward. Retrieved March 18, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Baltimore Jewish Times". Jewishtimes.com. April 24, 2009. Retrieved March 18, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d Simmons, Rusty (June 20, 2008). "'Rabbi' wants to be known for his talent". Sfgate.com. Retrieved March 18, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b "Rookie ‘Rabbi’: Newest Giants player breaks in with a big bang". Njjewishnews.com. June 26, 2008. Retrieved March 18, 2010. 
  5. ^ Mehlman, Bill, "Bases loaded, with Jewish ballplayers!," The Boston Globe, August 31, 2009, accessed December 10, 2009
  6. ^ "Fifth issue in baseball series honours record setters, ’08 big leaguers", Jewish Tribune, March 3, 2009, accessed December 10, 2009
  7. ^ ''Day by day in Jewish sports history'', Bob Wechsler, KTAV Publishing House, Inc., 2008, ISBN 0-88125-969-1. Retrieved March 18, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b "Horwitz keys six-run first inning for Giants". mercurynews.com. Retrieved March 19, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Minor League Roster Previews". Sfgiants.scout.com. April 5, 2006. Retrieved March 18, 2010. 
  10. ^ http://minors.baseball-reference.com/bat_leaders.cgi?yid=2005&lvl=&lid=&sort=BA
  11. ^ [Fisher, Rob, "Former San Jose Giants make news at Major League meetings", Examiner, December 10, 2009, accessed December 10, 2009]
  12. ^ "Non Roster Invitees | SFGiants". mlb.com. Retrieved March 18, 2010. 
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ "Connecticut Defenders". Ctdefenders.com. Retrieved March 18, 2010. 
  15. ^ [2]
  16. ^ "2007 Player Statistics: Brian Horwitz". BaseballAmerica.com. November 7, 1982. Retrieved March 18, 2010. 
  17. ^ Baseball America Prospect Handbook, Jim Callis, Will Lingo, John Manuel, Simon and Schuster, 2008, ISBN 1-932391-19-3, accessed December 10, 2009
  18. ^ Broshuis, Garrett (January 4, 2010). "Suitcase Chronicles: Listening For Your Own Name; Rule 5 draft is more exciting when you could be part of it". Baseballamerica.com. Retrieved March 18, 2010. 
  19. ^ Shea, John, "Rule 5: Giants lose Horwitz, select reliever", San Francisco Chronicle, December 10, 2009, accessed December 10, 2009
  20. ^ Anthony Castrovince. "Tribe nets Ambriz, Horwitz, loses Lofgren, December 10, 2009". Cleveland.indians.mlb.com. Retrieved March 18, 2010. 
  21. ^ "Bocock, Burriss, McBryde Invited to MLB Spring Training Camp". OurSports Central. January 12, 2008. Retrieved March 18, 2010. 
  22. ^ [3][dead link]
  23. ^ Chris Haft (May 30, 2008). "Ortmeier heads to DL with broken finger". mlb.com. Retrieved March 18, 2010. 
  24. ^ http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/features/263377.html