Adam Plutko, the 2013 College World Series Most Outstanding Player, just turned in his most outstanding outing as a professional pitcher.
The UCLA product-turned-Indians prospect racked up a career-high 13 strikeouts without issuing a walk across eight scoreless innings in Class A Lake County's 5-1 victory over Bowling Green on Thursday. He allowed just three hits for the second win of the season and his young career to end a four-game losing streak for the Captains.
"The last couple outings, we've put a lot of stress on not walking as many guys," Plutko said after his second straight start without a base on balls. "I struck out 10 a couple starts ago and I walked a couple, and there's always a little sour taste in your mouth when you do that.
"I'm really focusing on no walks and just pounding the zone early and getting ahead. I was obviously ecstatic with the 13 strikeouts, but the no walks was the part I was real happy about."
Seven starts into his professional career, Plutko is 2-0 with a 3.31 ERA. Over 35 1/3 innings, he has a share of the Midwest League lead with 49 strikeouts and has walked just 10. The 22-year-old has held opposing hitters to a .221 batting average without a home run.
Despite his many punchouts -- Plutko struck out the side in the fourth and eighth Thursday -- the Indians' 11th-round pick from last year's Draft measures himself by different standards.
'"Bull Durham' said it best -- strikeouts are fascist," Plutko said. "I'd rather have the guy get out on two pitches, then I can go nine. Everyone loves strikeouts. They're sexy, they're fun, they're cool. But for me, if I can limit the guys that get on base, then I know I did my job well."
That was the case Thursday. In addition to having good stuff, the native of Upland, California credited some nice weather for his stellar performance.
Plutko enjoyed plenty of sunshine at UCLA, which he led to its first national championship a year ago. Earlier in his college career, the right-hander pitched in the same rotation as Pirates starter Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer, the Indians' third-ranked prospect.
A diverse climate and a diverse roster are two of the differences from UCLA that Plutko has been adjusting to in Eastlake, Ohio.
"I'm working on my Spanish," Plutko said. "I keep saying that it will take me two years before I'm pretty fluent. But the competition is the same everywhere. I'm facing guys that I played with or against in college, the only difference being, here, it's about development -- in college, it's about winning.
"It's not necessarily always about the win. It's about, like I said before, jumping ahead of hitters and making sure I do that. And essentially that will help me win. That's kind of how I look at it."
Plutko was opposed Thursday by Ryne Stanek, Tampa Bay's No. 11 prospect. In his professional debut, the Rays' first-round pick last year took the loss after surrendering just a run over five innings. Stanek yielded five hits -- including a solo homer by Grant Fink in the sixth -- while striking out six and without issuing a walk.
Fink hit another solo shot in the sixth. Eric Haase smacked a two-run blast for the Captains in that frame.