Kaplan Remains in Top Form

Jeff Kaplan ranks among league leaders in ERA

SAVANNAH, GA - Right-hander Jeff Kaplan was predominately a reliever during his rookie season in Brooklyn, but his move to the rotation in Savannah has been a huge success. So far this season, Kaplan is among league leaders in important categories and has yet to show any sign of slowing down.

Although he was unable to pick up his fifth win in just eight starts Friday night, Savannah ace Jeff Kaplan remains the best statistical pitcher in the South Atlantic league.

Kaplan pitched five innings for the Sand Gnats Friday against the Bowling Green Hot Rods, where he worked five innings, allowing just one run on six hits.

Although teammate Reiner Cruz picked up the win with Kaplan receiving the no decision, his performance was good enough to keep him in first place in the SAL with a 1.23 ERA.

"Kaplan's a bulldog out there man," Savannah pitching coach Mark Valdes commented about his ace.

"He pitches tough with guys on base and he's got a good idea when it comes to how to get batters out. He never keeps the ball in the same place and that's always a positive."

Unrealistic to the rest of his starts in 2009, Kaplan had problems with control against the Hot Rods and struggled to locate his fastball in his first ever start against Bowling Green. However, as any good pitcher can, he was able to get out of tough situations time after time and retire the side.

"We preach fastball consistency in this league and keeping the ball down in the zone and Kaplan is normally good at doing that," said Valdes.

"We want him and all our pitchers to get quick outs on three or four pitches if possible. Kaplan is good about staying tough out there and getting the job done when he needs to."

This composure was most evident in the top of the fourth Friday, when the righ-hander was able to strike out Anthony Scelfo with the bases loaded, after giving up the first and his only run of the game off of a Jason Tweedy single, scoring DH Michael McCormick.

In his five innings of work, he was able to strike out four, two of which came against Bowling Green shortstop Tim Beckham, the number one overall pick in the 2008 draft.

"My game plan is to get hitters out early and not throw a lot of pitches," said Kaplan.

"It hasn't worked out that way early in the season. I've been throwing only five innings in my last couple of starts because I was throwing so many pitches," he continued. "I've had one or two starts where I was able to go into the seventh and that's what I like. Hopefully I can continue to do that as the season goes on."

He was able to do just that in one of his best starts this season, when he was able to help his team to a 7-1 win over the Lexington Legends on May 15, after only giving up one run on six hits in 7 innings pitched.

"The key for me is to throw strikes and getting early outs. Not always strikeouts, but ground ball outs and be able to go deep into ballgames."

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