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10/24/2007 6:09 PM ET
Yankees sign outfielder Jason Rees and catcher Eladio Rodriguez of the Israel Baseball League to Minor League contract
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The New York Yankees announced today that they have signed outfielder Jason Rees and catcher Eladio Rodriguez to minor league contracts. Both players participated in the Israel Baseball League's inaugural season in 2007.

Rees, 23, batted .362 (47-for-130) with seven doubles, leading the league in home runs (17) and RBI (50) in 42 games for the league champion Bet Shemesh Blue Sox, managed by former Yankee Ron Blomberg. A native of Newcastle, Australia, Rees was awarded the league's Co-Defensive Outfielder of the Year honors and was named to the IBL South All-Star team. Rees played collegiately at Cloud County Community College and Fort Hays State University in Kansas where he was named Second-Team All-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference in 2006.

Rodriguez, 28, received the Hank Greenberg Award as the IBL's Co-Most Valuable Player after leading the league with a .461 batting average (47-for-102) and a 1.000 slugging percentage. In 34 games at catcher with the Modi'in Miracle, he led the club with 16 home runs and 44RBI and was named to the IBL South All-Star team. Rodriguez was originally signed by the Boston Red Sox as a non-drafted free agent in 1998 and played seven seasons in their system, hitting .253 (203-for-803) with 38 doubles, seven triples, nine home runs and 98 RBI with the DSL Red Sox, GCL Red Sox, Short-Season Single-A Lowell, Single-A Augusta and Single-A Sarasota. Rodriguez was also named the most valuable player for his native Dominican Republic team in the Central American Games in 2006.

The 2007 Yankees ballclub was composed of players from seven different nations. The Yankees field two Dominican Summer League teams and recently constructed a state-of-the-art Latin Baseball Academy. The organization has signed talent from around the world including two-time All-Star Hideki Matsui (Japan) and two Chinese minor leaguers, participated in the Japanese posting process (Kei Igawa) and announced a landmark Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese Baseball Association in January that formalized the first-ever strategic alliance between a Major League Baseball Club and the CBA.

The Israel Baseball League is the first professional baseball league in the Middle East. Players from nine nations, including a dozen Israeli players, competed in the league's initial season in 2007.
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