Barring bad weather, Zach Plesac will make his major league debut today for the Cleveland Indians.
When MLBPipeline updated its top 30 Indians prospects in February, Plesac was nowhere to be found. He wasn’t even eligible to be voted on in the popular LGT top 20 prospects countdown in the offseason, although commenter The MadThinker88 was way ahead of his time by asking he be added to the voting in the top 10.
So without the benefit of prospect rankings, many might wonder ... who is this guy?
Plesac, 24, was a 12th-round pick by the Indians in the 2016 MLB draft. A nephew of 18-year MLB pitcher Dan Plesac, he is the second member of the Tribe’s 2016 draft class to make it to the big leagues after fourth-round pick Shane Bieber.
Plesac dropped to the 12th round because he suffered an elbow injury his junior season at Ball State, forcing him to undergo Tommy John surgery before the draft actually took place.
While at Ball State, Plesac was a two-way threat, playing outfield and pitching. Plesac’s best season pitching was actually his freshman year, when he went 12-2 with a 2.11 ERA, although his control and strikeout rate improved dramatically his junior season before his injury, whiffing more than a batter per inning for the first time.
Plesac did not pitch for the Indians in 2016 after being drafted, but instead made his professional debut on June 23, 2017 with Low-A Mahoning Valley with three scoreless innings. Plesac overpowered hitters at Low-A, allowing just four runs in 26.0 innings over eight appearances, earning a promotion to Single-A Lake County, where he began stretching out the length of his appearances.
Plesac’s statistics in Lake County weren’t quite as impressive, a 3.60 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 25.0 innings, but it was enough for the Indians to promote him to High-A Lynchburg to begin the 2018 season.
The results in Lynchburg were up and down for Plesac in his first full season after the surgery, with glimpses of being a star, most notably his ridiculous 74-pitch Maddux on May 6, 2018, which is one of the lowest amount of pitches recorded in Maddux history.
Plesac rose to the occasion when he was called upon for spot start duty in Double-A during the 2018 season, sporting a 2.45 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP in four starts with Akron.
One issue with Plesac was the inability to miss bats. His strikeout rate was decent (8.5 K/9) but he allowed 143 hits in his 144 innings pitched for the 2018 season, which kept his ERA just over 4.00 at High-A.
But this year, Plesac has been a new man. His velocity has spiked into the mid 90s and his command has been taken to a new level, walking just seven total batters in his 57.1 innings spread across nine starts. The first six starts occurred in Akron, where Plesac was nearly untouchable, sporting a 0.96 ERA and 0.78 WHIP.
Upon being promoted to Triple-A Columbus earlier this month, Plesac showed no signs of slowing down, keeping his WHIP at 0.80 and sporting a 2.25 ERA in three starts, averaging nearly 7.0 innings per start.
In his worst start this season, Plesac still had a quality start, allowing three runs in 7.0 innings while striking out nine and walking none on May 17th. Yes, that was his worst start.
This should hopefully be the first start of many for Plesac in an Indians uniform.