The Washington Nationals on Tuesday selected Elie Kligman with their 20th round pick of the MLB draft, making him the second observant Orthodox Jewish player drafted into the league.
Kligman was drafted a day after the Arizona Diamondbacks picked right-handed pitcher Jacob Steinmetz as their 77th overall pick.
Kligman is a catcher who took up the position in January, but also has experience at shortstop and on the mound, where he touches 90 mph, according to MLB.com.
A high school senior from Las Vegas, Kligman is considered one of the best players in the state of Nevada. He was one of 175 high-schoolers who took part in the Area Code Baseball Games, which is viewed by MLB scouts.
Unlike Steinmetz, who plays on Shabbat but stays in walking distance of his hotels on the road, Kligman does not.
Kligman’s father, Marc, is a lawyer and licensed baseball agent, and he represents his son. On Tuesday, according to JTA, Marc Kligman was traveling with Israel’s baseball team, currently on a pre-Olympics road trip full of exhibition games across the Northeast, when he heard the news. He shared it with the players on one of their buses.
It is believed that Kligman’s switch to playing catcher could be in service of his professional goals, as catchers are often given at least one day a week off, thus opening up the possibility that Kligman could line up his days off to be during Shabbat.
Despite the excitement of being drafted, his father told JTA that Kligman will likely look to first play at a Division I college program before a professional career.