CLEVELAND -- Zach Plesac decided to get away from all the noise surrounding the MLB Draft this weekend. While spending time with his family at Turkey Run State Park in Indiana on Saturday afternoon, his quiet retreat was interrupted when his phone began buzzing with a string of congratulatory texts.Among
CLEVELAND -- Zach Plesac decided to get away from all the noise surrounding the MLB Draft this weekend. While spending time with his family at Turkey Run State Park in Indiana on Saturday afternoon, his quiet retreat was interrupted when his phone began buzzing with a string of congratulatory texts.
Among the messages was one from his Uncle Dan.
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The Indians picked Plesac in the 12th round (362nd overall) on the third and final day of the annual Draft, adding another right-handed pitcher to their stock of prospects. His uncle, former Major Leaguer Dan Plesac, received a notification when his nephew's name was called. The elder Plesac was not only ecstatic for his nephew, but thrilled that Cleveland was the club that grabbed him.
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Zach underwent Tommy John surgery on April 29 earlier this year, hurting his stock for the MLB Draft. Cleveland has not shied away from such projects in the past -- the team took an injured Brady Aiken with its top pick in the 2015 Draft and its No. 4-ranked prospect -- and the organization is lauded throughout the league for its ability to not only develop pitchers, but to rehab them from injuries.
"I credit the Indians for recognizing the talent that he has and for being willing to take a shot on him," Dan said. "I know it's going to be a good organization for him. Listen, the reputation that the Indians have for developing their Minor Leaguers, and their Minor League pitchers in particular, is as good as anybody in baseball. Their training and medical staff has always gotten rave reviews.
"This is the right team for Zach at this point. He couldn't have gotten drafted by a better team than the Cleveland Indians."
Zach, 21, struck out 49 in 48 2/3 innings for Ball State this season before the elbow injury ended his season. Over three seasons with the Cardinals, the right-hander went 20-9 with a 3.06 ERA and 193 strikeouts against 87 walks in 241 1/3 innings. He was the MAC Freshman Pitcher of the Year in 2014, when he went 12-2 with a 2.11 ERA as a reliever, then posted a 3.27 ERA in 107 1/3 innings as a starter in '15.
Brad Grant, Cleveland's director of amateur scouting, said the injury played a role in Plesac being available after the first 10 rounds.
"He, unfortunately, got hurt," Grant said. "But with our track record, our medical staff, with just how we feel about being able to rehab those guys and bring those guys back, we felt like we were able to get a lot of value there with Zach in the 12th round."
During the ups and downs, Plesac knew his uncle was only a text or a call away.
"I've always looked up to my Uncle Dan," Zach said. "I could kind of get any questions I had answered through him. If I ever was wondering how something worked, or what people think if I do certain things or what I need to improve on to make myself a better pitcher, just being able to reference a great pitcher like him has helped me become a better pitcher myself."
Dan Plesac, who pitched in parts of 18 big league seasons as a reliever for six teams, has enjoyed being that kind of resource for Zach.
"He's seen a lot of cool things at the next level," Dan said. "Through my career, he was able to go to quite a few big league games. He was kind of around that environment a little bit."
Now, all Zach needs to do is turn on his TV to see his uncle, who is an analyst for MLB Network.
That makes for some good-natured ribbing during holiday get-togethers.
"I don't want to make fun of him," Zach said. "But it's funny, because sometimes when he's talking, he's got one eyebrow raised. If you didn't know him, you wouldn't recognize him. Since I know him, it's funny. We give him a hard time about it at Christmas and stuff."
Asked about the eyebrow, Dan laughed.
"I don't know why I do it," he said. "I think it's when I get really animated. I'm not sure even which one it is, but he's not the first person who's made fun of it. I think it's the left eyebrow. It starts to go up when I get very animated and opinionated.
"This TV thing, it's funny. When I go home and I see Zach and I see my family, they don't look at me like people look at me around here. They look at me as just Uncle Dan."
And after receiving the text from his uncle, Zach sent the same two-word message back.
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.