August 18, 2017 Lake County Captains

After being taken in the 12th round of the 2016 draft, Zach Plesac didn’t begin his pro career until the 2017 season and when he did, he skipped Arizona entirely. After six shut outs in eight appearances (ranging between 1.2 and four innings) in Mahoning Valley, he was promoted to Lake County. Once there, he allowed a single run in his first game, then threw four shut out innings in start two. On August 18th, he made his third start for the Captains and 11th ever.

After starting out with a 1-2-3 top of the first, the Captains grabbed the early lead with a Conner Capel (pictured top) homer in the bottom half. Plesac was perfect again in the second and the Captains were able to create a more sustained rally in that inning. It started when Emmanuel Tapia was hit by a pitch and moved up on a Miguel Eladio single. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch and one run came home on a Jose Vicente single. Jorma Rodriguez walked to load the bases and then, the Dayton Dragons and Andrew Jordan almost got out of it. Todd Isaacs grounded to third and Taylor Sparks was able to make the throw home to keep the Captains from further score. A strike out later, it looked like the Dragons would escape with minimal damage, but a two out double by Capel cleared the bases and gave Lake County a 5-0 lead. Capel then stole third and scored when the throw from the catcher went into left.

Capel’s success on the bases may have motivated the rest of the Captains to make some poor decisions and both the third and the fourth innings had potential rallies killed when Miguel Eladio and Todd Isaacs were caught stealing third. At the same time, Plesac remained perfect until he walked a hitter in the fourth, then lost his no hitter in the fifth. To this point, he had never thrown five innings in a game and he would not do so again in 2017. He finished the game with four strike outs in his five shut out innings.

Zach Plesac1
Plesac warms up prior to a 2017 Indians extended spring training game in Goodyear, AZ. – Joseph Coblitz, IBI

Before the Captains went to the pen, the offense added two more. Mitch Longo singled ahead of a Li-Jen Chu (now Kungkuan Giljegiljaw) homer to expand the lead to 8-0. Justin Garza, generally a starter, then came in for relief. He struck out two in the sixth and the seventh, then all three hitters faced in the eighth. Continuing to score via two point shots, Eladio singled in the bottom of the eighth and came home on a Jose Vicente homer.

Heading  into the ninth, the Captains had allowed just a single and a walk, but they lost the shut out in the ninth when the Dragons came up with a double and single against Garza. He managed to finish the inning without further incident for a Captains 10-1 win. In all, Captains pitchers struck out 12 with just one walk and three hits allowed. Offensively, every hitter scored at least one run except the lead-off man Luke Wakamatsu and every batter had a hit except Wakamatsu and Jorma Rodriguez.

What may be most interesting about this line-up and pitching staff is that, of the 11 players who participated in this game, only Plesac has made it to the big leagues and he has done so spectacularly. With just one more season in the minors, he managed a 3.81 ERA in 115.2 innings (1.7 WAR) in 2019 and was off to a fantastic start to 2020 until he was pulled from the rotation for some unknown reason.

Looking at the rest of the line-up, despite being just two years ago and being a low level (so you might expect these players to be in AA or AAA now), nearly every player is out the system with only Giljegiljaw remaining as a significant prospect with the Indians. Capel remains with the Cardinals following the Oscar Mercado trade, although he wasn’t considered important enough to work out at their off-site camp and is playing for Team Texas in the Constellation Engery League instead.

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