By Laura Amato
Former St. John’s pitcher Alex Katz missed a week of school to get a shot playing in the World Baseball Classic, but he’s more than convinced that it was worth it.
Katz—who is currently in his final semester at the school— earned a spot on the Team Israel roster earlier this year and, Sunday night, saw the team earn its first-ever berth to the World Baseball Classic in Seoul next year.
Israel defeated Great Britain 9-1 at MCU Park in Brooklyn in the final game of the qualifying tournament and while Katz didn’t do much pitching over the course of the weekend, he couldn’t have been more pleased with what the squad accomplished.
“This is a dream come true,” Katz said. “The ultimate goal of this experience is to spread the game of baseball in Israel. Hopefully winning this tournament, we can spread the growth of the game.”
Katz was one of 20 MLB-affiliated players on the Israeli roster, and he’s hoping that the team’s success will help spark a brand-new interest in baseball across the country.
A 27th-round pick by the Chicago White Sox in 2015, Katz was promoted to Class A Advanced at the end of the 2016 season, playing four games with the Winston-Salem Dash of the Carolina League. Over those four games he posted a 1.69 ERA, allowing just two hits and one run over 5.1 innings.
“I had a pretty good season,” Katz said. “The last couple of months I’ve been pretty happy just getting promoted to high-A. That definitely helped my confidence.”
Of course, those kinds of numbers aren’t foreign to Katz, who helped lead the Red Storm to a Big East title during his junior season.
In fact, he considers his seasons at St. John’s as some of his best.
“My junior year, especially, was fantastic,” Katz said. “We had six guys drafted that year and then a couple other guys got picked up the year after. So that just shows the type of program we have there.”
Katz wasn’t the only player on the Israeli roster with Queens-based ties. Former Mets infielders John Satin and Ike Davis also competed for the squad, drawing fans to the Coney Island Boardwalk.
A Long Island native, Katz came back to Queens the day after winning the WBC Qualifier—getting back into the swing of classes as he preps to graduate this December.
He didn’t pack a stat sheet over the weekend, but the experience is one Katz won’t soon forget and the cheers of the small, but very loud crowd, at MCU will ring in his ears for weeks to come.
It was worth the missed assignments and extra work he’ll have to make up.
“It was an amazing experience so far,” Katz said. “It’s only the beginning and I can’t wait to go to South Korea in March.”