Herricks alum to play for Israel’s first-ever Olympic baseball team

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Herricks High School alum Alex Katz will play for Team Israel in the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo. (Photo courtesy of Syntax)

From humble beginnings at Herricks High School to joining Israel’s national baseball team in the​​ upcoming Olympics, Alex Katz is accomplishing feats only a handful of people in the world can relate to.

The 26-year-old Katz, earlier in July, was named to the final 24-man roster for Israel’s first Olympic baseball roster, which will be traveling to Tokyo to compete against other nations around the world later this month. Katz is also a dual citizen of the United States and Israel.

“There’s no words to describe the feeling — it still hasn’t hit me yet,” Katz said. “I’m excited for the opening ceremonies and our first game, which will be against Korea.”

A Manhasset native, Katz graduated from Herricks in 2012. During his time with the Highlanders, Katz was second-team All-Island and first-team All-County and was named the Most Valuable Player of the Nassau County Exceptional Senior Game.

Some notable performances Katz had at Herricks included games with 15 and 16 strikeouts against top competitors.

After high school, he received an offer to play in the Cincinnati Reds organization but declined so he could attend college at St. John’s University.

His junior year with the Red Storm proved to be the one that would pave the way for future success. Katz went 3-1 with a 3.40 ERA in 19 mound appearances with 52 strikeouts in 55.2 innings. That same year, Katz and the Red Storm won the Big East baseball championship and secured a berth in the College World Series.

In 2015, Katz was selected by the Chicago White Sox organization in the 27th round of the MLB Draft. Katz, in a 2015 interview with Blank Slate Media, recalled the days leading up to being selected and what his family’s reaction was like once the pick was made.

“I was actually watching all three days [of the draft] in my house and during the one minute that I walked away my name was called,” Katz said. “On the computer, they announce the names live. I heard my parents screaming with excitement and I saw about 10 seconds later my name popped up on the phone.”

Since being drafted by the White Sox six years ago, Katz has moved around various organizations, playing in the farm systems of the Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, and the Chicago Cubs.

In 2019, Katz returned home and played with the Long Island Ducks in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.

Former major leaguers Ian Kinsler and Danny Valencia, who are currently in Long Island playing for the Ducks will be two of Katz’s teammates on Team Israel. Kinsler was a four-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove recipient, and a 2018 World Series winner with the Boston Red Sox.

Katz has also played for an Israeli national team before after starting off 4-0 in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. That year’s Israeli team, ranked outside of the top 40 teams throughout the world, defeated third-ranked South Korea and fourth-ranked Chinese Taipei. That team was referenced as one of the largest underdogs in international tournament play.

This year’s Tokyo Olympics, originally scheduled for last year but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, will begin next week, with the baseball tournament kicking off on July 28 in Fukushima, Japan.

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