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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, April 09, 2017 9:00 pm

Keel taking right approach in return to Fort Wayne

CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette

Jerry Keel, whose pitching spurred the TinCaps' 3-2 win over Bowling Green on Sunday at Parkview Field, could be higher up the ladder.

In 2016, Keel performed well in 25 games for low-A Fort Wayne and received promotions to high-A Lake Elsinore (four appearances) and even Double-A San Antonio (three). The 23-year-old left-hander was thus a surprising sight on the TinCaps' 2017 season-opening roster.

When asked Sunday about his mindset regarding where the San Diego Padres have placed him in their farm system, Keel said he's simply trying to improve no matter what level he's at.

"It's just keep pitching, just like a bulldog out there," Keel said. "Pound the zone, force their hand and try to move up the ladder."

Teammate Fernando Tatis Jr. praised Keel's 2017 debut, which consisted of 6 1/3 innings and only one earned run on four hits with eight strikeouts.

"He did a great job," Tatis said. "If he keeps (going) like that, he's going to move real quick."

If it were up to TinCaps manager Anthony Contreras, Keel might already be on the move.

"He probably, in my eyes, shouldn't be at this level," Contreras said. "He definitely could pitch at the high-A or Double-A level right now. It is just good to see him cruising like he did."