Sand Gnats Check In As Season Hits Last Month

Marte is getting warm, but went on the DL on Wed.

SAVANNAH, GA - With the Savannah Sand Gnats hitting the homestretch of their season, Inside Pitch caught up with a trio of the Sand Gnats leading contributors. Armando Rodriguez, Jefry Marte and Wilfredo Tovar all fill different roles, but all three will be relied upon if the Sand Gnats want to extend their success into the South Atlantic League playoffs.

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The Savannah Sand Gnats are playoff bound after winning the Sally League Southern Divison first half title. If the Sand Gnats are to continue that run in the postseason, they will do so with help from a trio of young talent.

Wilfredo Tovar, Jefry Marte, and Armando Rodriguez will be looked to for continued strong performances. As the end of the regular season approaches, Marte has a few goals set in motion and hopes to accomplish them throughout the rest of the season.

"I hope to get better and finish out the season strong. I just want to do the best that I can and win," said Marte. "I've worked really hard and the coaches have really helped me become a more skilled batter."

Unfortunately for the Sand Gnats and their young third baseman, Marte, who is hitting .244 with six home runs and 44 RBI (.287 in the second half), went on the disabled list on Wednesday with a strained hamstring.

Rodriguez has been hot all summer and currently leads the team in shutouts, which is no surprise considering his strong arm. He has pop on his low to mid-90s fastball and should be a threat come playoff time.

"I just want to continue to get better at the plate," said Rodriguez. who has been one of the Sand Gnats most consistent starter sall season. "I do feel like I have matured, but there is always room for improvement."

Rodriguez has shown in 2010 why the Sand Gnats have been able to rely on him so much. He followed up his first half which he finished with a 5-4 record, 3.10 ERA and .208 opponent's batting average with a 1-2 record, 3.32 ERA and .216 opponent's batting average in the second half.

Tovar is an 18-year-old up-and-coming talent who began the season in Extended Spring Training after spending 2009 in the Venezuelan Summer League and the Gulf Coast League. Tovar got his first taste of regular season ball this season in May when he played 30 games in St. Lucie. During that stretch, Tovar hit .246 with six RBI and 14 runs scored.

Since coming to Savannah, Tovar is hitting .271 (36-for-133) in 36 games with 10 RBI. Most notably, Tovar has struck out just nine times. The long-season leagues come with tougher competition which is why Tovar is thrilled about playing for Savannah after spending time in Venezuela and St. Lucie.

"It was a good experience when I played in St. Lucie and in Venezuela because I got better at the game, which brought me to where I am now. I enjoy playing at this level and I am excited that our team has made it to the playoffs," said Tovar through the assistance of a translator.

At his young age, Tovar has not been intimidated by the talent or competition. Instead, he has been learning and putting his skills to use.

"I am excited about playing at this age and glad that I have the opportunity," he said.

In addition to getting Marte back from injury, the Sand Gnats should be pleased with the performance of this trio which has stabilized the team to a degree after a slew of midseason roster changes.

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