Thursday, June 16, 2011

Giants draft player from S.F. Jewish high school 

Graduating senior Benny Sosnick was something of a celebrity at the Jewish Community High School of the Bay’s commencement ceremony this week.

That’s what happens when you get selected in the Major League Baseball draft — and by your hometown team, the World Series champion Giants, no less.

Sosnick, 18, tried to be realistic going into last week’s three-day draft, putting himself in the mindset that no team would take him. So when he was picked on the draft’s final day, June 8 — in the 49th of 52 rounds — he was blown away.

“I was not expecting it at all,” said Sosnick, the 1,497th out of 1,530 players taken. “It was definitely a surprise, and I was very excited.”

Sosnick’s selection ranks as one of the most newsworthy athletic moments in the 10-year history of JCHS of the Bay in San Francisco, and it was trumpeted on the school’s website under the heading “Big Baseball News.” It was also a topic of conversation at the school’s graduation ceremony June 13 at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco.

Sosnick was informed of the selection by his brother, San Francisco–based sports agent Matt Sosnick, who was monitoring every pick in the draft. The elder Sosnick’s clients include Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez, Cincinnati Reds slugger Jay Bruce and Florida Marlins outfielder Scott Cousins (the player who ended Giants catcher Buster Posey’s season when he crashed into him at home plate).

As a late-round pick, Sosnick won’t get a signing bonus or even an immediate contract. In fact, pending a meeting with the Giants’ scout who watched him play a few times this season, he’s not even sure if he’ll play baseball this summer or in college. He said the Giants have labeled him a “summer-follow guy,” which means they’ll watch his progress over the next few months.

“Getting drafted did open up some options for me,” Sosnick said. “I might try to find a summer league to play in. But I haven’t looked into it yet. I have to meet with [the scout] and see what he has to say.”

Sosnick said he’ll stick with his plan of entering the University of Oregon in the fall; eventually he wants to go to law school and get into the sports business field like his big brother. Now he is also thinking about trying to play baseball for the Ducks as a walk-on.

A resident of Hillsborough, Sosnick attended JCHS for four years. His father, Ron, is on the JCHS board and has served in a variety of leadership roles in the Jewish community, including president of the Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley and capital campaign chairman for Peninsula Temple Sholom in Burlingame.

During the 2011 season, Sosnick had an eye-popping .583 batting average, which led the entire 139-school Central Coast Section, according to Maxpreps.com. In 16 games, he had 28 hits and 22 RBIs. However, JCHS plays against mostly smaller schools in the Private Schools Athletic League.

At 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, Sosnick was drafted as a second baseman even though he primarily played pitcher, catcher and shortstop for the Wolves.

“I played mostly shortstop, but my league is not a great league,” he said. “I don’t have the range to play shortstop on a higher level, but I could do well at second base.”

Sosnick — who wrote the Hebrew words for “strength” and “courage” on his batting gloves and “gevurah” (strength) on his fielding glove — didn’t hit any homers this past season, but he did have six doubles, a triple and a .644 on-base percentage. He also relished playing on a team that won eight of its final 10 games, many in come-from-behind fashion. One of those was an exhilarating 16-15 triumph that clinched third place for the Wolves, their highest finish in school history.

“We took an 11-0 lead, then fell behind 15-12, then ended up scoring the last four runs to win,” Sosnick said. “I went 3-for-5 and tagged two guys out at home plate, and I pitched to one batter and struck him out to end an inning.”

Sosnick also was a basketball star for the Wolves this past season, averaging 12.9 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. But if he gets selected in the two-round NBA draft next week … well, that would be the story of the century.


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