Plesac to Get the Call for Tribe on Tuesday at Fenway
Bob Toth | On 26, May 2019
The 2019 season has been a wild ride for right-hander Zach Plesac, and things are just getting started for the 24-year-old right-hander.
Indians manager Terry Francona announced on Sunday that Plesac will be added to the 25- and 40-man rosters on Tuesday to pitch in the middle of three games against the Red Sox during the Tribe’s road trip to Boston.
Plesac may get a bit of an extended look with the club, as other options brought up from Triple-A Columbus to plug holes in the starting rotation have failed to provide the staff with the consistency and length it needed. The team will need to make a move with the present 25-man roster to add Plesac to the team, but it does not necessarily have to be a 40-man roster move as the current squad is set at 39.
Plesac is enjoying an incredible start to his third minor league season. His 50th game of professional baseball will come on one of the more historic stages in the game today at Boston’s Fenway Park.
The young righty opened the season with the Double-A Akron RubberDucks after spending two weeks and four games of May and June of his 2018 season there (going 3-1 with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP with 21 strikeouts and four walks in 22 innings). He made six starts for Akron, posting a 1-1 record with a 0.96 ERA and a 0.78 WHIP, striking out 34 and walking six in 37 1/3 innings of work.
On May 11, he was promoted to Triple-A and joined the Columbus Clippers. His dominant numbers have continued through three starts there, as he won all three outings while allowing five runs on 15 hits with a walk and 22 strikeouts in 20 innings of work (2.25 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP).
Combined between the two levels, Plesac is 4-1 this season in nine starts with a 1.41 ERA, a 0.78 WHIP, and a .185 batting average against with 56 strikeouts and just seven walks in 57 1/3 innings of work. Eight of his nine starts have been quality starts, as only one time this season has he failed to finish at least six innings on the mound and he has allowed no more than three earned runs in any one game. He made six straight starts from April 13 to May 11 when he allowed one earned run or less.
Plesac was a 12th round draft pick by the Indians in the 2016 draft out of Ball State University. His stock dropped some in the draft after having Tommy John surgery two months before that year’s draft, possibly costing him as much as ten rounds, according to Plesac in a story on Ball State’s The Daily in 2017. Instead of heading to the minors to kick start his pro career, Plesac instead reported to Arizona to work through his rehab process at the Tribe’s Goodyear complex in Arizona.
He split the 2017 season with short-season Mahoning Valley (0-1, 1.38 ERA, 0.85 WHIP in eight games) and Class-A Lake County (1-1, 3.60 ERA, 1.00 WHIP in six starts) and he spent the majority of 2018 in his first full season of pro ball with the High-A Lynchburg Hillcats. There, he posted an 8-5 record in 22 starts with a 4.04 ERA, a 1.28 WHIP, and 111 strikeouts and 33 walks in 122 2/3 innings around a mid-season promotion to Double-A to help Akron during a stretch of doubleheaders in the schedule.
The Crown Point, Indiana, product is the nephew of long-time Major League closer and three-time All-Star Dan Plesac. A three-sport star in high school with a left-handed twin brother, Zach knew baseball was the sport for him early on.
“Growing up, watching my uncle in the Big Leagues…I’ve been in love with baseball from the start,” Plesac shared with Did The Tribe Win Last Night’s David Freier in July of 2018.
During his minor league career, Plesac has called on both a four-seam and two-seam fastball, a hard slider, a slower curveball, and a changeup. His velocity in general this year has also enjoyed a noticeable uptick, which has only helped improve his stock as a prospect – one not even included in most top 30 lists yet.
“He’s a very hard worker and a good competitor on the mound,” shared 2018 Lynchburg and current Akron pitching coach Tony Arnold last July in an interview with Did the Tribe Win Last Night. “Command of all of his pitches has continued to improve and his velocity jumped up a couple miles an hour, helping him to throw better.”
Plesac will be the fourth different pitcher used by the Indians to help fill the voids left by injured starting pitchers Mike Clevinger and Corey Kluber. Jefry Rodriguez has seemingly cemented himself into the rotation picture, but results have been mixed from right-handers Cody Anderson and Adam Plutko in two outings each in Kluber’s absence. Anderson is still lengthening himself back out to starter’s innings after his own Tommy John surgery prior to the 2017 season, while Plutko has only recently returned to action after a right forearm strain in the spring.
The Indians’ gamble to select Plesac just months after a significant elbow surgery has paid off thus far. Now, Plesac will get to accomplish his ultimate goal and will get to do so on the same Fenway Park mound that his uncle pitched off of as a visitor 56 times during his own 18-year MLB career.
Photo: David Monseur/Akron RubberDucks (MiLB.com)