The U.S. is scheduled to face Israel to begin play in the Olympic baseball tournament early Friday, California time, with both teams’ rosters including players from Los Angeles and Orange counties.
U.S. outfielder Eric Filia is an alumnus of Edison High School in Huntington Beach and UCLA. Filia has played in the Seattle Mariners’ organization since being chosen in the 20th round of the 2016 MLB draft. He was suspended for 100 games in 2019 following a third positive test for a drug of abuse under baseball’s minor league drug program.
Filia was selected for the 2013 All-College World Series team after batting .333 and driving in eight runs, including five in the championship-clinching game, as the Bruins won their lone NCAA baseball title. He was known as Eric Snyder before taking his father’s surname in 2013.
Relief pitcher Anthony Gose graduated from Bellflower High School in 2008, was chosen by the Philadelphia Phillies in the second round of that year’s MLB draft and reached the majors in 2012 as an outfielder with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Gose hit .240 in 372 major league games with Toronto and the Detroit Tigers from 2012-16. He was converted to a pitcher in 2017 by the Tigers organization. He has a 4-1 record and 5.68 ERA this season with the Columbus Clippers, the Cleveland Indians’ Triple-A affiliate.
With the Olympics taking place during the Major League Baseball season, players on 40-man rosters were not allowed to play in the Olympics, but minor leaguers not on 40-man rosters were.
The U.S. roster includes 13 players who have played in the major leagues, including former Los Angeles Dodger pitchers Edwin Jackson and Scott Kazmir and catcher Tim Federowicz, who played for the Dodgers from 2011-2014 and now plays for their Oklahoma City Triple-A affiliate.
The U.S. starting pitcher Friday will be right-hander Joe Ryan, who pitched for Cal State Northridge from 2015-17, then completed his college career at Cal State Stanislaus in 2018. He was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the seventh round of the 2018 MLB Draft, reaching their Triple-A affiliate in Durham, North Carolina.
Ryan was traded to the Minnesota Twins July 22 as part of the deal that sent seven-time all-star outfielder Nelson Cruz to Tampa Bay.
The U.S. team is managed by former Los Angeles Angels manager and Dodgers catcher Mike Scioscia. Its pitching coach is Dave Wallace, the Dodgers’ pitching coach from 1995-97 and senior vice president of baseball operations from 2000-03.
Israel catcher Ryan Lavarnway graduated from El Camino Real Charter High School in 2005, played for Yale University from 2006-08 and eight major league teams from 2011 through this season. He is a teammate of Gose with Columbus.
Lavarnway hit two runs and drove in three runs in Israel’s 6-5 10-inning loss South Korea early Thursday California time.
Outfielder Blake Gailen graduated from El Camino Real Charter High School in 2003, played for Glendale Community College in 2004 and 2005 and UNLV in 2006 and 2007.
Gailen began his professional career in 2007 with the Anderson (South Carolina) Joes of the independent South Coast League. He has continued his career with various minor league teams, including Dodger and Angel affiliates, and independent teams along with the Melbourne Aces of the Australian Baseball League.
Pitcher Jon Moscot graduated from Palisades Charter High School in 2009 and played for Pepperdine University from 2011-2012 and the Cincinnati Reds in 2015 and 2016.
Moscot started against South Korea but left the game after nine pitches because of an injury.
Relief pitcher Zack Weiss graduated from Northwood High School in Irvine in 2010, was a teammate of Filia on UCLA’s 2013 NCAA championship team, drafted by Cincinnati in the sixth round of the 2013 MLB draft, and reached the majors in 2018 with the Reds.
Weiss is 2-2 with a 4.15 ERA in 16 games this season with the Tacoma Rainiers, the Seattle Mariners Triple-A affiliate, where he is a teammate of Filia.
Nearly the entire Israel roster consists of Americans who became Israeli citizens under the nation’s Law of Return, which gives Jews the right to come and live in Israel and gain Israeli citizenship.
Israel qualified for the Olympics by winning the 2019 Europe/Africa continental tournament. The U.S. qualified by winning the Americas qualification event in Florida in June after failing in its first attempt to qualify for the six-team field in 2019.
The game from Yokohama, Japan is set to begin at 3 a.m. Friday California time. It will be streamed at stream.nbcolympics.com/baseball-opening-round-game-4.
Baseball is being played at the Olympics for the first time since 2008. It was first played as a medal sport in 1992.
In 2005, the International Olympic Committee voted to drop baseball from the 2012 Olympic program. Baseball was among six sports added in 2016 to the 2020 Olympics along with softball, karate, sport climbing, surfing and skateboarding.
Baseball is not on the program for the 2024 Paris Olympics but is expected to be for the 2028 Games in Los Angeles.
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