Horne Looking To Get Even Better

Horne picked up a no-decision on Monday

Having a career year isn't good enough. Alan Horne wants to get even better. Despite ranking in the top five in ERA and strikeouts in the Eastern League, while posting a 7-3 record and a 2.39 ERA in his first 15 Double-A starts, he wants to improve in one specific area of his game.

"I'm having a good season so far," said Alan Horne. "I've stayed healthy all the way through and I'm just trying to go out and put up a consistent start every time. I'm not worried about putting up big flashy numbers or anything, I'm just trying to give five, six, or seven innings every time out and give my team a chance to win."

Despite picking up a no-decision in Trenton's 5-4 loss to Erie on Monday, it was the 14th time in 15 starts he has pitched at least five innings. Giving up just one earned run on four hits in five innings, it was also the ninth start this season where he gave up one earned run or less.

He also walked just one batter on Monday, which was the 12th time he has walked two batters or less. Horne contends his success this season is a product of challenging batters more and improved command of his fastball has allowed him to do that.

"My fastball command is much better," he listed as the biggest difference between this season and last year. "I feel like I can throw strikes at any time with it so I can take chances with offspeed pitches here and there when I had to worry about it last year to come back and throw a strike with a fastball. It's been really good."

Better command of his heater has been one part of his recipe for success in 2007. Further development and confidence in his offspeed pitches has also played an integral part in his stock rising in the organization.

"The changeup is coming along great," said the former University of Florida pitcher. "It's getting to where I can throw it in a lot more counts. The curveball has always been there and the slider has been a big pitch for me against lefties this year, throwing in to those guys a lot."

"It's not the same combination every time out. One's going to be a little better than the other but I'm pretty pleased with the progress of all of them so far."

After going just 6-9 with a 4.84 ERA for the Tampa Yankees a year ago and now finally putting up the type of numbers he and the Yankees knew he was capable of posting, Horne believes his performance in Trenton this season may have opened up some of the eyes of his doubters.

"Yeah definitely," he said if he believes he has proved his critics wrong. "I've been lucky to put up some good numbers this year, just challenging guys a lot more this year. I'm not walking guys or anything like that."

"I've probably given up a few more hits this year than I would have liked, but that comes with pitching to a little more contact. I'd like to say I've established myself as a quality starting pitcher."

Having the type of success he has had thus far this season at the Double-A level, Horne realizes he isn't too far from reaching the big leagues.

"No it's not that far away when you get to this point in time," he said of reaching the Major Leagues. "It's nothing but a really good stretch and you're there. It's exciting to see all these guys who have been in the system for a long time and worked really hard, it's neat to see them get up there."

Despite being in the midst of a career year and making rapid advancements in all phases of his game, Horne isn't satisfied relishing in his accomplishments.

"I definitely want to keep with the consistency," he said of his top goals for the rest of the season, "but I probably need to work on working out of the stretch more, get a little quicker to the plate and trying to keep guys from getting into scoring position. It's a nice thing to have."

"I'm doing a good job limiting the number of hits with guys in scoring position, but it's always nice to keep that guy on first base so you can get your double-plays and things like that. That also makes it a lot easier to go deeper into the game when you can get more efficient plays like that."

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