Adam Plutko knows success and the thrill of winning a championship. A national title winner at UCLA in 2013 under head coach John Savage, the 11th-round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians is in his second season in the organization and is making strides. A right-hander, Plutko had allowed only four earned runs over his previous 17.2 innings entering Tuesday’s action.
Thrilled to be a member of the Tribe family after his successful time with the Bruins, Plutko sat down and talked with DTTWLN about his college exploits, his current time with the Carolina Mudcats and his goal to pitch at Progressive Field one day.
DTWLN: How did you get into baseball and did you have a favorite team as a young boy?
Plutko: “I just played in the little league, like all the kids we are seeing playing in the Little League World Series. I wanted to play everything; I was never a kid that played video games growing up. I just did it because that is what everyone did.”
“I played baseball, soccer for a little bit, golf for a while—I still wish I could play golf more than I do—and basketball for a long time but baseball was always the one. I always gravitated towards baseball after it all.”
“I didn’t really have a team—that is the beauty of SoCal, there are two teams for every sport that you can play—so I just watched it all. I was kind-of –a Red Sox fan later on.”
DTWLN: Describe what it was like to play for John Savage at UCLA and the thrill of winning a national championship.
Plutko: “Coach Savage is the smarted pitching mind I have ever been around in my life. He looks at things from every little detail. That is the thing I took from him the most. Every little detail matters. It is not an easy philosophy to live by but when you are in the system and you do things his way it becomes a way of life.”
“I was happy for him (winning the NCAA title) and the entire team. I was one of five captains on that team and the hard work that we, as captains, put in and we, as everyday players, along with the coaching staff with all the long hours and scouting reports, it was truly special. I cannot explain it into words any better than that.”
“You are a rock star (in Omaha at the CWS). I was lucky enough to go one week my sophomore year and two weeks my junior year. I did not touch my bags when I went to the hotel; they were putting my bags in my room for me. Everywhere I went; people were asking me for my autograph. It was pretty special.
DTWLN: How well has being a Bruin prepared you for your professional career?
Plutko: “I am facing guys that I have faced my entire college career. College competition is good thing and is not amateur anymore. I know a lot of people think of it as amateur sport but it is just as good as some of the professional levels. There is a reason that teams are sending guys straight to High-A out of college. It is because they have played at a high level and I feel that has really prepared me for here.”
DTWLN: You went from Coach Savage to Carolina Mudcats (and Lake County Captains in 2013) pitching coach Steve Karsay. How is it working with the former first-round pick?
Plutko: “Karsay has been awesome. I feel real lucky to have Karsay as my pitching coach. He is very detailed-oriented as well. That is something I really like. Having played baseball for so long now, I now it is not major adjustments that get you to shoot up the ladder, it is the small ones. Lots of small ones can make your career or break your season. Working with Karsay, it has really been great for me.”
DTWLN: What has your experience in the Cleveland organization been like so far?
Plutko: “I could not be happier. They have been great as far as the transition period and knowing that there is a transition period. It is not just results-oriented; it is about did you get better even though the results perhaps did not show up. Talking with Trevor Bauer a little bit, he said I would be fine and that I would love everybody in the organization and he could not be more right.”
DTWLN: With Bauer staying in touch, it sounds like the UCLA-family is special.
Plutko: “It is. He and Gerrit Cole, he shoots me a text once in awhile. He keeps up with all of my starts and I keep up with all of his too. It is a fraternity. Cody Decker, who is probably the most famous twitter person in the Minor Leagues, he is playing in El Paso this year. I will send him a text and he will send me one back. We never played with each other once. If you played for the same system and you played for Coach Savage, you are in the club.”
DTWLN: Imagine yourself taking the mound at Progressive Field for the Tribe. What would that be like?
Plutko: “I have imagined that a lot. It is something that I want unbelievably bad. It is why I am working so hard everywhere I have been. I can’t wait. That is why I do what I do.”
Photo: Kim Kellam/IndyWeek.com