Mudcats Notebook: Plutko is making adjustments in Carolina
It was a week of streaks for the Mudcats, completing a season long four-game winning streak to start the week and finishing the week with a three game losing streak.
The Mudcats picked up two wins against Lynchburg and a victory over Salem to put the finishing touches on a four game winning streak. The good vibes ended there, as the team lost the next two to Salem and the opener of their series against Lynchburg.
Carolina will look to rebound this week, completing their series against Lynchburg before spending the weekend at home, playing host to the Winston-Salem Dash for a four game set.
Player Spotlight: Adam Plutko
Just one year ago, right hander Adam Plutko was celebrating a national championship at UCLA, but today he is making great strides on his journey to the major leagues.
The 11th round pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, Plutko was the Most Outstanding Player of the College World Series for the Bruins which has allowed him to accelerate through the minor leagues on a faster pace.
Plutko started 2014 with the Low-A Lake County Captains, where he showed how strong of a pitcher he is, going 3-1 with a 3.93 ERA over 52.2 innings.
He was also named the Indians Minor League Playerer of the Week on May 12th after striking out 13 batters over 8.0 innings against the Bowling Green Hot Rods, and allowed just three hits.
After starting the season in Lake County, Plutko was promoted to the Mudcats on May 29th.
“The biggest adjustment here is the hitters,” Plutko said. “The hitters here can make you pay for bad pitches a lot quicker than they can in Lake County.
“Another big adjustment was the heat,” Plutko said with a laugh. “Coming down here (Zebulon, NC) with all this heat and pitching with humidity was a big adjustment after the first two months of the season when it was freezing cold.”
After picking up a victory in his first start with the Mudcats, Plutko has gone through a bit of a rough patch, going 0-4 with an ERA north of five.
Besides just getting used to the league, Plutko also had a mechanical issue to straighten out.
“For me it was more of a mechanical fix that Karsay and our other pitching coaches saw,” he said. “I’m not sure it was so much an adjustment, but just pitching differently in the games I’ve gotten in trouble and the games I’ve done well, but just a mechanical adjustment that I’ve just had to get used to.”
Plutko has been near the top of the Indians minor league system all season in strikeouts, a statistic people say does not show as much as the hype it gets.
Over the course of the season, in Lake County and Carolina, Plutko has racked up 97 strikeouts, something he says he doesn’t pay much attention to.
“I just try to get guys out any way that I can,” he said. “If its by strikeout, groundout, whatever, just as long as I’m getting outs.”
Any way you look at it, Plutko has had an amazing year, and he doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon.
Player of the Week
Yhoxian Medina (SS): 11-24, 8 R, 6 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K, 2 SB
The most important thing for a leadoff man to do is to get on base. Now, Medina doesn’t always bat leadoff, but he does bat ninth in the order, serving as a second leadoff man of sorts, and he can get on base no matter where in the lineup he is. He had at least one hit and scored at least one run in every game this week. He also had a double in all but one game, but in that one game, he laced an RBI triple.
Jacob Lee (RHP): 2 G, 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
Generally, bullpen pitchers don’t get praised for what they do and are heavily ridiculed for a bad outing. Lee has quietly put together a strong season, compiling a 1-0 record with a 3.40 ERA over 45.0 innings. This week, things were business as usual for Lee, as he allowed only one unearned run in two appearances.
Alex Monsalve (C): 7-18, 2 R, 2 2B, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K
Carolina’s back-up catcher, Alex Monsalve, is becoming quite the hitter in the Carolina League. This week, he collected seven more hits and drove in four runs, something that is becoming somewhat of a typical week for him.
LeVon Washington (OF): 7-15, 3 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K
The once highly touted prospect is showing what once gave him a promising future. Washington showed his power hitting two home runs, his ability to drive in runs, and his ability to get on base. If Washington’s career stays on this track, his career might be turned around before it’s too late.
Rob Nixon (RHP): 2 G, 6.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 2 K
At times throughout his career in the Indians minor league system, Nixon has struggled to get anyone out. But when he gets in a zone, Nixon has shown he can be a dominant arm out of the bullpen. In 6.1 innings this week, he didn’t allow a single hit and only allowed three base runners, all on walks.
On the Hook
Jeremy Lucas (C): 5-21, 1 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 4 BB, 3 K
Lucas has been one of the best offensive players for the Mudcats this season, but he obviously didn’t have something going right this week. Of his five hits, he collected three in one game, two of which were his doubles for the week. If you take that game out of his statistics, his line is: 2-16, 0 R, 1 RBI, 4 BB, 3 K which is not a good week for anyone.
James Roberts (INF): 4-20, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 6 K
After starting out the season so hot at the plate, Roberts has cooled down tremendously. This week, he stayed entrenched in a slump that has gotten worse as time goes by. Roberts only collected four hits on the week, and produced virtually nothing as far as run production.
Adam Plutko (RHP): 1 GS, 0-1, 2 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
A starting pitcher only has one out of every five games to stake their claim as to why they are deserving of a promotion. This week, Plutko clearly did not stake his claim for that, as he had his shortest outing of the season at any level and gave up more runs than he had allowed in a single start.
Fish Swimming Around
The Indians were active this week attempting to improve all levels of their minor league system. Shortstop Erik Gonzalez was moved from Akron back to Carolina as the RubberDucks infield is starting to get healthy again. Big lefty Elvis Araujo, making a successful transition to the bullpen, was promoted to Double-A. Outfielder Cody Ferrell, who just joined Carolina last week, has also been moved to Akron as the injury bug has made its way to the outfield there. Right-hander Cole Sulser was also promoted to Double-A. In order to shore up the Mudcats roster, right-hander Ben Heller was promoted to Carolina from Lake County.
Fish on the Line
The Mudcats got some great news on the injury front this week. Utility man Todd Hankins, suffering from a right oblique injury, was activated from the disabled list on Tuesday. Also, right-hander Dylan Baker, out since April 13th with a fractured right ankle was active in Arizona for a rehab assignment, but remains on the disabled list.
Zachary is a senior at NC State where he is majoring in communication-media, with minors in journalism and theatre. You can follow him on Twitter @RealZachFrancis.