Former Irvine Valley pitcher Jeff Kaplan is playing for Israel in World Baseball Classic qualifying tournament in Jupiter, Fla. this week.
Israel is trying to advance to the main WBC field next year.
Kaplan played at Irvine Valley during the 2004 and 2006 seasons. He was forced to sit out 2005 with an arm injury, but came back with a strong 2006 for the Lasers. He was named first team all-Orange Empire Conference after posting a 5-5 record with a 2.56 ERA in 84 1/3 innings.
Kaplan also held opponents to just a .196 batting average. He ranked fourth in the Orange Empire Conference in ERA and second in strikeouts with 100.
His 100 strikeouts for a season remains an Irvine Valley record. He also set an individual game strikeout record of 12 in a complete game win over Santa Ana in 2006.
Of the 28 players on the Israel team, 10 are from the Southern California area, including Kaplan, who played at Dana Hills High and Irvine Valley before moving on to Cal State Fullerton. He is now in a minor leaguer in the New York Mets organization.
Some of the other players on the squad include former major leaguers Shawn Green and Gabe Kapler.
Israel opened WBC qualifying player on Wednesday against South Africa and won, 7-3. Kaplan gave up no hits and allowed just one walk in 2/3 of an inning.
Israel plays Spain today.
The four team field also includes France and Spain.