Plutko makes quick strides with Columbus

Cleveland's No. 14 prospect posts seven zeros in third Triple-A start

Adam Plutko allowed two runs in both of his first two Triple-A starts. (Cathryn Wood/Columbus Clippers)

By Michael Peng / MiLB.com | June 28, 2016 11:33 PM

A piece of advice Adam Plutko got from Double-A Akron manager Dave Wallace has stuck with him, and now he's succeeding at Triple-A Columbus with it.

"He told me to treat your current level like the big leagues because right now, it is," Plutko said. "So I'm just trying to be as professional as I possibly can here. Everybody treats it like a job, but it's the best job. I just want to do my best to help my team win every time I'm out there."

Cleveland's No. 14 prospect did that Tuesday, yielding three hits and one walk while striking out five over seven innings in Triple-A Columbus' 1-0 shutout of Lehigh Valley at Coca-Cola Park. It marked Plutko's third start in the International League after getting promoted on June 16.

"Early on, I thought my command with my fastball was a little erratic," he said. "But I stayed with that and got my curveball going early. The slow and fast speeds kept their hitters off balance as the game went on."

The 24-year-old right-hander gave up a walk to top Phillies prospect J.P. Crawford in the first inning and a single to Cam Perkins in the second, but didn't allow another runner to reach base until the fifth.

Brock Stassi led off that frame with a single, but was thrown out trying to stretch that into a double by right fielder Collin Cowgill. The former big leaguer recorded the next two outs as well.

"CC made that entire inning by himself," Plutko said. "He did a [heck] of a job in right and played great defense all night, making all the plays. You've got to tip your cap to someone like that out there."

While UCLA product was dealing, however, IronPigs starter James Russell was just as good, matching zeros with the 2013 11th-rounder before surrendering the lone run of the game -- unearned -- in the sixth on an RBI single by Jesus Aguilar.

"He pitched a great game, but I didn't know much about him," Plutko said. "I know I'm in Triple-A and there are a lot of guys who were in the big leagues, but unless he picks up a bat, I don't have to worry too much about him. My focus was on getting the hitters out and they tested every bit of bit me tonight."

No. 23 Phillies prospect Darnell Sweeney doubled off him in the sixth, but was left stranded. Plutko (2-1) exited after throwing 62 of 98 pitches for strikes and lowering his Triple-A ERA to 1.93 over 18 2/3 innings. He posted a 3-3 record with a 3.27 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP over 71 2/3 innings with the RubberDucks prior to his third midseason promotion in as many Minor League seasons.

"It's a little different because you're coming into a team that's well-established already," he said. "All the roles are kind of locked up and you're the guy coming in and changing things up. So I'm just trying to keep my head down, work for my team as best as I can and learn from the guys here, some of whom have a lot of big league experience. Adam Moore, for example, caught Felix Hernandez during his Cy Young season [2010], and now he's catching me. I'm just trying to pick up as much as I can from the guys here."

Josh Martin allowed a hit in the eighth before Ben Heller closed out the ninth for his fourth save of the season.

No. 13 Indians prospect Yandy Diaz led all hitters with two hits and No. 11 Erik Gonzalez scored once.

Michael Peng is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelXPeng. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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