Plutko sharp in first win for Hillcats

Indians' No. 19 prospect allows two hits over six scoreless innings

Adam Plutko has held Carolina League hitters to a .148 batting average this season for Lynchburg. (Tom Phillis)

By Robert Emrich / MiLB.com | April 29, 2015 12:43 AM

Adam Plutko found himself looking at the other team Tuesday with a sense of confusion. By the end, opposing batters must have shared that feeling.

The Indians' No. 19 prospect gave up two hits over six shutout innings as Class A Advanced Lynchburg defeated Carolina, 8-2.

Plutko struck out six while walking one to even his record at 1-1. After issuing a base on balls to start the fourth inning, the right-hander set down the final nine batters to face him before giving way to the Hillcats' bullpen.

"Great defense behind me all night long," Plutko said. "We just had a good gameplan going in, [catcher] Eric Haase really called a great game. My team got me a lead, which helps as far as when you have a lead on somebody, you don't have to worry about staying tight and getting early outs, you can go for strikeouts."

Despite not allowing more than an earned run in any of his four starts this season, the 23-year-old entered the outing without a win.

"It's a monkey off the back for sure," he said. "I put together a couple of good ones, but it hasn't worked out, I can now say I won't go winless on the entire year, which I'm happy about."

Following an affiliate swap by Carolina and Lynchburg in the offseason, the California native found himself staring at the team he played for last year on the opposing side.

"It was bizarre," he said. "I didn't think it would be that big of a deal. I saw the opposing starter, Lucas Sims, come out and he was wearing one of the pullovers we used to wear, and I looked down at my jersey like I thought I was in the wrong jersey. It was kind of like an out-of-body experience for a second."

Overall, Plutko is 1-1 with a 1.14 ERA and has recorded 19 strikeouts in 23 2/3 Carolina League innings thus far. He believes knowing what it's like to pitch a full season prepared him for 2015.

"I think I came into Spring Training knowing what the rigors of the season were going to look like, " the 2013 11th-rounder said. "I think that actually played a big role in my overall job thus far. Steve Karsay, who was my pitching coach last year, got me right in Spring Training this year and when he got out here, Tony Arnold, the pitching coach here, has really hammered me about pitching down in the zone and staying down."

Justin Brantley followed Plutko and gave up two runs on one hit over two innings, while Robbie Aviles tossed a 1-2-3 ninth.

Nellie Rodriguez slugged a three-run homer and Luigi Rodriguez also went yard and plated three runs for the Hillcats. Bradley Zimmer, the Indians' No. 3 prospect, had two hits and scored twice for Lynchburg.

Sims, the Braves' No. 4 prospect, was tagged with the loss after giving up five runs on five hits over 2 2/3 innings.

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

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