If Woodmere resident Jacob Steinmetz, who was drafted 77th by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the third round of the 2021 First-Year Player Draft on Monday, was writing his own story, he said he would not shy away from the obvious story lead.
“It was what I was working toward and if it was going to happen, I knew it was going to be a thing,” Steinmetz, a HAFTR HS alumnus, said on being the first Orthodox Jew drafted by professional baseball (the Washington Nationals drafted Elie Kligman the next day). “To me, all my hard work paid off and it’s a great feeling when you put the work into something and you succeed.” The success he credits to his parents and all his coaches along the way.
His father, Elliot, is coach of the Yeshiva University basketball team, which he guided to a 36-1 record and national rankings the past two seasons, and the Division III Sweet 16 in 2020 before all sports was shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.
When college and major league baseball scouts watched the 6-5, 220-pound Steinmetz pitch they saw a young man not yet 18 whipping a fastball toward home plate at upwards of 96 mph and dropping a curve that has a snap.
Steinmetz, who turns 18 on July 19, was initially committed to play baseball for Fordham University at the NCAA Division I level. Now he will head to Arizona to sign a pro contract and begin what one baseball oriented movie called “life’s first profession.”
The Jewish Star featured a 9-year-old Steinmetz in 2012, in a spread headlined, “Woodmere’s Jacob Steinmetz found his sweet spot” (link here).
Jewish Star Editor Karen Green wrote then that the young man was a budding superstar whose “determination … was goal oriented without compromising his principles” and who possessed “adaptability, while adhering to his priorities.”
Steinmetz remembered the story and said he was looking at it as he spoke to a reporter this week. Saying that his younger self “wasn’t even thinking about it,” meaning playing professional baseball, “that it was just a dream,” Steinmetz feels like he is the same person just older.
When Steinmetz played on the Long Island Chargers as a youngster and the Long Island Titans as a teenager, the teams accommodated Steinmetz’s religious obligations. Such accommodations are harder to come by in pro ball, but Steinmetz said that will be “something between me and the team. I’ll keep doing what I do, walking to games on those days.”
He describes the pre- and post-draft time as “crazy” and “overwhelming.”
“I’m definitely exited to have gone through it,” Steinmetz said.