Cleveland Indians pitcher Zach Plesac fields questions from Midnight Suns Baseball Club baseball players, coaches and parents at the Wells Fargo Dimond Park Field House on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. Plesac, who made his Major League debut in May, is spending part of his offseason in Juneau visiting his twin brother. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)

Cleveland Indians pitcher Zach Plesac fields questions from Midnight Suns Baseball Club baseball players, coaches and parents at the Wells Fargo Dimond Park Field House on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. Plesac, who made his Major League debut in May, is spending part of his offseason in Juneau visiting his twin brother. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)

Big Leaguer shares wisdom with Juneau youth

It’s ‘always possible’ to play pro, Indians pitcher tells players

He’s pitched in Fenway Park, struck out the reigning American League MVP of Major League Baseball (Mookie Betts) and been profiled by Forbes.

One thing Cleveland Indians pitcher Zach Plesac hadn’t done prior to Thursday night? Speak in front of a crowd of about 70 players, coaches and parents.

“This is my first time talking in front of a group, so it’s kind of nerve-racking,” the soft-spoken 24-year-old said during Midnight Suns Baseball Club practice at Dimond Park Field House.

The assembled players took practice off to hear from the Cleveland rookie, who fielded questions for a half-hour from the attentive crowd gathered along the side of the turf field, dishing on everything from his path to the Big Leagues, offseason routine and relationship with World Series-winning coach Terry Francona.

“If you take it upon yourself, if you really want it, it’s always possible,” Plesac told the crowd about getting to the Bigs. “I’m just a regular kid, just played baseball, played Little League and decided one day this is what I wanted as bad as anything.”

Plesac made his Major League debut about five months ago against the Boston Red Sox. Plesac appeared in 20 more games for the Indians, who finished the season with a winning record (93-69) but didn’t make the playoffs. With his season coming to a halt at the end of last month, Plesac’s October was freed up to see his twin brother, Ron, who is a colleague of Midnight Suns coach Richard Lewis.

Cleveland Indians pitcher Zach Plesac signs autographs for Midnight Suns Baseball Club players at the Wells Fargo Dimond Park Field House on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)

Cleveland Indians pitcher Zach Plesac signs autographs for Midnight Suns Baseball Club players at the Wells Fargo Dimond Park Field House on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)

“I have the offseason where I got to be training, so there’s a small window where we can do any traveling,” Plesac said.

So, he used that window to see his brother, who recently moved from Anchorage to Juneau and works at GCI. The brothers are originally from Indiana.

“Our relationship just goes back — it’s never been brittle or it’s never had like a fall off or anything,” Plesac said of his brother. “We’ve always been true and been able to get through things together and learn life through both of our experiences. Kind of brainstorm off each other.”

Ron Plesac was in attendance Thursday, and attested to his brother’s self-belief.

“I was always bigger than him,” Ron Plesac said. “He was always competing with me to just be average or be a good athlete and as he grew up, he got bigger, ate right, just took athletics very seriously and obviously you can see where it got him. I think that’s the biggest thing that I wanted the kids to take away from this, is just that anything is possible as long as you have the advantage in your head that you want to make it there.”

Midnight Suns Baseball Club baseball players listen to Cleveland Indians pitcher Zach Plesac at the Wells Fargo Dimond Park Field House on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. Approximately 70 players, parents and coaches gathered to hear Plesac’s story. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)

Midnight Suns Baseball Club baseball players listen to Cleveland Indians pitcher Zach Plesac at the Wells Fargo Dimond Park Field House on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. Approximately 70 players, parents and coaches gathered to hear Plesac’s story. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)

Jack Schmidt, MSBC president, said the club has interacted with professional players before, but possibly never one who was so relatable.

“Zach’s special for us because he just got into the Majors and he’s up-and-coming and I think he more relates (to the players) rather than someone that’s been in and retired,” Schmidt said. “He’s in it now and he can tell them what it’s like.”

Thunder Mountain High School and MSBC player Josh Carte agreed with Schmidt.

“When you think of most interviews of Big League players you think it’s going to be lots of default answers that they’ve rehearsed a lot,” Carte said. “But you could tell he’s super sincere.”


• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nainsworth@juneauempire.com.


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