Michael Plassmeyer came to the Phillies in one of those transactions that is an afterthought. It barely got a mention when the Phillies sent minor league catcher Austin Wynns (3-20-.365/.504/.500 in 33 games with Lehigh Valley) to the Giants for minor league pitcher Plassmeyer (0-6, 7.38 in 11 G with Sacramento). At first blush, the Phillies got the worse end of the deal as the Giants immediately promoted Wynns to the majors and Plassmeyer went to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Wynns has gone on to hit 1-11-.224/.295/.294 in 37 games with the Giants.
But what about Plassmeyer? The 25-year-old lefty is pitching well with Lehigh Valley, having posted a 4-2 mark with a 3.06 ERA in 10 starts and has nine walks and 49 strikeouts in 50 innings.
“We have worked on stuff mechanically – me and Cesar (Ramos, LV pitching coach) – just trying to get more in line and driving the ball through the plate. I used to be very cross-body and now we have gotten everything into line and that’s made it easier for me to work both sides of the plate,” said Plassmeyer of the transition since joining Lehigh Valley.
Plassmeyer had actually started to fine tune his mechanics while he was a member of the Giants organization, but Ramos was able to add to the changes and the effects were nearly immediate.
On the current IronPigs homestand, Plassmeyer has put together two terrific starts with a combined line of: 13 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 18 K, 2 HR, 1 HB, 46 BF, 186 PITCHES (123 STRIKES/63 BALLS) with a 2-0 record in wins over Syracuse and Charlotte. His ERA through the two outings stands at 1.38.
Against Syracuse earlier this month, Plassmeyer was perfect through the first five innings before giving up a leadoff double to Travis Blankenhorn. He quickly righted the ship and got the next three batters, two of them on strikeouts, stranding Blankenhorn at second. One of the top prospects in all of baseball, catcher Francisco Alvarez, launched a mammoth home run – estimated at 440 feet – against Plassmeyer to start the seventh. He also allowed two more singles in the inning, but no additional runs. In that same game, Plassmeyer reset his career-high for strikeouts by whiffing 11 hitters over seven innings.
“I try not to focus on that (the perfect game). It’s just all about one pitch at a time, one hitter at a time. Donny (Sands, the LV catcher) and I were on a good pace there, so that’s what I was focused on,” said Plassmeyer. “I had gotten Alvarez on a couple of good fastballs earlier and tried to get one past him in the seventh but he was sitting on it.”
Pitching in the Pacific Coast League where smaller ballparks and conditions that allow the ball to carry more are the norm, Plassmeyer had gotten away from throwing his fastball as much as he would have liked. Coming east, he has gotten back to using the pitch more and his confidence in the pitch has grown. The growth of his success with the fastball has also helped to change his approach on the mound. “I focus a lot more on working ahead in the count and then just filling up the corners. Having confidence in my fastball allows me to do that,” said Plassmeyer.
It appears that the trade has turned out to work well for both Plassmeyer and the Phillies. Wynns was not going to play any substantial role with the organization either now or in the future but Plassmeyer could become a nice addition to an organization on the lookout for more pitching. Plassmeyer’s development has kicked into high gear under the watchful eye of pitching coach Cesar Ramos and has helped him to take the next step mentally to being a quality pitcher.
The Phillies are actually the fourth organization for Plassmeyer, who was initially drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the fourth round of the 2018 Draft. Three months later he was included in the deal that brought Mallex Smith and Jake Fraley to the Mariners from Tampa Bay. It was in the Rays organization where Plassmeyer played with Beau Brundage, the son of former IronPigs manager Dave Brundage. Ironically, Plassmeyer would be playing for the elder Brundage when he wound up in the Giants organization in a trade for pitcher Matt Wisler. Dave Brundage is now the manager at Triple-A Sacramento in the Giants organization.
The trade to Philadelphia renewed another former connection for Plassmeyer. At Christian Brothers High School in St. Louis, Plassmeyer was teammates with Matt Vierling, who is now a platoon center fielder with the Phillies.
“I grew up with Vierling, so I’m excited to be in the same organization as him and look forward to playing with him one day,” Plassmeyer noted. “It’s difficult to leave all of your teammates, but I still get to play baseball and do what I love.”