PHOENIX -- Team Israel got off to a strong start in its World Baseball Classic qualifier on Wednesday, as it topped South Africa, 7-3.
Team Israel has several notable ties to the Padres, none more than Minor League first baseman Nate Freiman, who hit two home runs in the victory.
That's not all. Team Israel is managed by Padres special assistant Brad Ausmus. Mark Loretta, who is also an assistant in the Padres front office, is a coach on the team. Minor Leaguer Cody Decker is also on the team.
As for Freiman, the power display he showed Wednesday isn't anything out of the ordinary. Freiman hit 24 home runs this season for Double-A San Antonio and has 71 home runs in his first four seasons in the organization.
"Nate has had three very productive years showing the ability to drive in runs and knock the ball small," said Randy Smith, the Padres' vice president of player development and international scouting. "He has tremendous size and raw power."
Freiman, 25, is listed at 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds. Freiman made a nice impression in Spring Training on Padres manager Bud Black, especially after hitting a long home run in Scottsdale in March.
"Big time power," Black said.