Jacob Steinmetz’s 97 mph fastball is amazing. The 17-year-old’s talents helped him earn a scholarship at Fordham University and a place in this week’s MLB draft.

With the 77th overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, the Arizona Diamondbacks selected Jacob Steinmetz of Woodmere, Long Island. The pick is huge news because Steinmetz is believed to be the first-ever Orthodox Jewish player to be drafted.

“I was very excited,” Jacob Steinmetz admitted. “Also having all my friends there and a little bit of my family, definitely made it much better.”

The New York Post reported that Jacob Steinmetz, a 6-foot-6 New Yorker, keeps kosher and observes the Sabbath. That means he would not use electricity or get into a car from sundown on Friday to sunset on Saturday. Typically, Orthodox Jews don’t work on Sabbath. But Steinmetz said he is OK with pitching on Friday nights, Saturdays and holidays.

Jacob Steinmetz is an amazing pitcher with a 97 mph fastball. After committing to Fordham University, the pitcher might be the first Orthodox Jewish player in the MLB
Jacob Steinmetz is an amazing pitcher with a 97 mph fastball. After committing to Fordham University, the pitcher might be the first Orthodox Jewish player in the MLB. Photo Credit: Instagram

“There’s a difference between being committed, doing all this hard work, and having this extra layer,” his summer coach, Daniel Corona, said. “I don’t know if there’s ever going to be another Jacob, as far as this whole process goes. He set an example that anything is possible as far as being committed to multiple things at once and still believing in yourself, your dreams, to make them happen.”

“I think just because of the fact that no one’s ever done it, really, there’s no one for younger kids to look at and see that it was possible,” Jacob Steinmetz said. “With me being the first, hopefully the younger kids will see that and they won’t give up and think ‘I’m an Orthodox Jew, I can’t do that.'”

He was with his friends when he found out the life-altering news. “It was always a dream, but it wasn’t a very realistic dream until about a year, a year-and-a-half ago,” Steinmetz said. “I just got a lot better and was throwing a lot harder and I was putting a lot more work in.”

Steinmetz said he feels close to God when he’s on the mound. He very much wants to be a role model. “See that’s it’s possible to stay to your religion and also play high-level baseball at the same time,” he said. No practicing Orthodox Jewish player has made it to the big leagues.

Steinmetz started learning to play ball at age 11, but he didn’t think he’d be an MLB prospect. Steinmetz had planned to play college baseball at Fordham University but will sign with the Diamondbacks instead.

He reports to the team on Monday, which is his 18th birthday.