Tyler Herron, former Team Israel baseball pitcher, dies at 35

Tyler Herron, a former Major League Baseball prospect who pitched for Team Israel during his Cinderella run in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, died this week at age 35.

The exact cause or date of Herron’s death has not been reported. Several of the minor league teams he played for posted tributes to Herron on social media Thursday.

Herron, who grew up in Florida, was of Puerto Rican descent, according to El Nuevo Día, one of Puerto Rico’s largest-circulation newspapers. But a YouTube video from Team Israel explains that his aunt also found out in 2014 that he had a Jewish grandmother, making him eligible to obtain Israeli citizenship and play for the team.

Herron appeared in three games during the 2017 World Baseball Classic and called it “the best experience I’ve ever had in baseball.” Team Israel finished sixth in the international tournament, despite being ranked out of the top 40 countries in the world before entering.

The Israel baseball team posted a note on social media on Thursday: “All his teammates and coaches on the Israel team remember him fondly. Israel Baseball sends its condolences to Herron’s family and loved ones. “

A native of West Palm Beach, Florida, Herron was an outstanding high school pitcher. During his senior year, the right-hander led the country with a 0.25 ERA, striking out 81 batters in 57 innings.

He was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round of the 2005 Major League Draft, and in 2007 he was ranked by Baseball America as the 10th-best prospect in the organization. But he never made it to the majors.

During a 16-year career, Herron played for various minor league teams in multiple organizations, as well as foreign and independent leagues, including in Puerto Rico. The head of the Puerto Rico Players Association told El Nuevo Día that an investigation into Herron’s death is underway.

This year, Herron pitched for the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks of the American Association’s independent league, his fourth separate season with the team.

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