Eleven players who graduated from high school in Indiana were chosen in the 2022 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, which concluded its three-day run in Los Angeles Tuesday, July 19. There were 20 rounds and 616 players selected. Indiana University right-handed pitcher Jack Perkins (Kokomo High School graduate) was picked in the fifth round (154th overall) by the Oakland Athletics. Ball State University left-hander Tyler Schweitzer (Hamilton Southeastern) was chosen in the fifth round (161 overall) by the Chicago White Sox. University of Louisville right-hander Jared Poland (Indianapolis Cathedral) was taken in the sixth round (172 overall) by the Miami Marlins. University of Connecticut right-hander Austin Peterson (Chesterton) went in the ninth round (271st overall) to the Cleveland Guardians. Purdue University left-hander Jackson Smeltz (McCutcheon) was picked in the 10th round (300th overall) by the San Diego Padres. Indiana U. right-hander Bradley Brehmer (Decatur Central) was drafted in the 12th round (347th overall) by the Baltimore Orioles. Ivy Tech Northeast Community College right-hander Matt Peters (Fort Wayne Dwenger) was picked in the 12th round (353rd overall) by the Chicago Cubs. Righty-swinging Georgia Tech shortstop Tim Borden II (Providence) was chosen in the 16th round (493rd overall) by the Houston Astros. Evansville North High School switch-hitting shortstop Cameron Decker (a University of Central Florida commit) was drafted in the 18th round (555th overall) by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Westfield High School right-hander Gage Stanifer (a University of Cincinnati commit) was picked in the 19th round (578th overall) by the Toronto Blue Jays. Indiana U. right-hander Reese Sharp (University High) was selected in the 20th round (587th overall) by Baltimore.
Frank Plesac welcomes pressure. The right-handed pitcher from Crown Point, Ind., enjoys facing hitters and the promise that comes with his famous baseball last name. “There are definitely a lot of expectations,” says Frank of being the brother of a current big league hurler (Zach Plesac) and the nephew of one who spent 18 seasons in Major League Baseball (Dan Plesac). “I’d rather have the expectations high with pressure on myself. It helps me perform better. I just try to live up to the name.” Righty Zach Plesac is a starter for the Cleveland Guardians and made his MLB debut in 2019. He is 10 minutes older than twin Ron. Lefty Dan Plesac won 65 games and saved 158 from 1986-2003 and is in the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame and is a regular on MLB Network. Frank Plesac is coming off his second season at Bethel University in Mishawaka, Ind., where he is 8-12 with a 4.28 earned run average, 129 strikeouts and 31 walks in 138 2/3 innings. In 2022, those marks were 6-5 with a 3.24 ERA, 83 strikeouts and 13 walks in 86 innings which led to an all-Crossroads League first team selection. All but two of his outings fro Bethel have been in a starting role. “I love to start,” says Plesac, 20. “I feel like it’s my game and I’m in-control.” Seth Zartman is the Pilots head coach. Kiel Boynton guides the pitchers. “He introduced the family aspect of the team, which I never really understood before that,” says Plesac of Zartman, who has been head coach at Bethel since the 2004 season. “I’m glad he gave me the opportunity to really experience that. “(Coach Boynton and I) talk a lot about pitching. We pick each other’s brains. We try to learn from each other.” The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Plesac is pitching this summer for the wood bat Northern League’s Justin Huisman-managed Lake County CornDogs, which play at Legacy Fields in Plesac’s hometown of Crown Point. His coach at Crown Point High School was IHSBCA Hall of Famer Steve Strayer. “He’s a character and a great coach,” says Plesac of Strayer. “He always pushed us to be our best. “He impacted the way I viewed baseball and the way I play baseball now.” The youngest of union carpenter Ron and Registered Nurse Jeannie Plesac’s children, Frank played on the Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth fields in Crown Point then went into travel ball with Morris Baseball and the South Shore Bears. In the summer of 2021, he got reps with a local men’s team called the Raw Dogs. Through his first seven mound appearances (six starts) with the CornDogs, the 2022 Northern League East All-Star is 1-0 with a 2.11 ERA. In 34 innings, he has 49 K’s and just three base on balls. Throwing from a high three-quarter arm slot, Plesac uses a Four-seam fastball (which topped out at 93 mph in the spring), curveball, slider and change-up. What is his best swing-and-miss pitch? “Definitely the curveball,” says Plesac. “It’s pretty sharp with a deep break. Sometimes I’ll try to get on top of it to get more of a 12-to-6 break. Sometimes I’ll leave the wrist a little open to get more of a slurve action. “It’s a different pitch every time.” Plesac, who has two years of eligibility remaining heading into 2022-23, is a Criminal Justice major. He sees it as a natural fit with one of his favorite non-baseball pursuits. “I’m a big outdoors person,” says Plesac. “I love to hunt. I love to fish. Being a (Department of Natural Resources) conversation officer is everything I want and more. “They say do what you love. That’s what I love doing.” Plesac can see the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in Plainfield in his future. But first the diamond. “I’m going to try to ride baseball as far as I can,” says Plesac. “Why not?”
Tanner Tully’s Major League Baseball debut came Friday, April 22 at Yankee Stadium in New York. The left-handed pitcher who played at Elkhart (Ind.) Central High School and Ohio State University was called up to the Cleveland Guardians as part of a move when three players were placed on the COVID 19/injured list. Tully was with Cleveland for a series with the Chicago White Sox, pitched in New York and then returned to Triple-A Columbus the next day. “Now we can work on getting back up there again,” says Tully, 27. The lefty pitched the fifth and sixth innings, facing all nine hitters in the Yankees lineup, including seven right-handers. His first two pitches to lead-off man D.J. LeMahieu — four-seam fastballs — were strikes (swing-and-miss and foul ball). The third — a slider — resulted in a groundout to shortstop. Two of the first three deliveries to 6-foot-7, 282-pound Aaron Judge were strikes. The New York slugger worked a full-count and lined an opposite field pitch into the short right field porch for his second home run of the night. Tully got ahead 0-1 on lefty swinger Anthony Rizzo and coaxed a flyout to center field. The lefty went 2-2 on Giancarlo Stanton before yielding a single to left field. Tully made seven pitches to Josh Donaldson, issuing a walk to Josh Donaldson and getting a visit from Cleveland pitching coach Carl Willis. The first toss to lefty batter Joey Gallo wound up with a groundout to first base. In the sixth, Tully got ahead 0-1 on Gleyber Torres before a flyout to center. The count on Isiah Kiner-Falefa was 1-1 before another flyout to center. Tully retired Jose Trevino on seven pitches, the last resulting in a foul pop-out to first base. The southpaw wound up throwing 25 of 38 pitches for strikes for the Terry Francona-managed Guardians. While he may throw a few more four-seamers than the others, Tully has tried to throw his four pitches — four-seamer, change-up, slider and curve — in close to equal amounts. He sat down with coaches in recent years and came to this decision. “I throw off-speed a lot more than I used to,” says Tully. “It’s more about location and getting outs.” Back in Columbus, where Andy Tracy is the manager and Rigo Beltran the pitching coach, Tully expects to start again sometime this week for the Clippers. The day of a start, Tully is looked at for a solid five or six innings. “You do everything you can and let the bullpen come in,” says Tully. “Baseball’s evolved a lot . It’s hard to face a lineup three times through.” Even with scouting reports and video to study opposing hitters (who can also do the same with pitchers). Tully says the Cleveland organization wants to keep pitchers like him stretched out so they can help as starters or as receivers at the big league level. “I don’t care if start or I’m in the bullpen,” says Tully. “As long as I get to throw.” The day after his minor league starts, Tully lifts weights to stay strong and does sprint work. “You want to be explosive from Point A to Point B,” says Tully. “They call it fast-twitch. Long-distance running doesn’t really help. You’re not conditioning for long distance as a pitcher. “I’ve grown into the last two or three years. It’s max effort when you’re out there. You’re out there for 10 or 15 minutes, you take a break and go max effort again.” Two days after a start, Tully throws 25 to 30 pitches in the bullpen. “I’m working on stuff I want to get better at,” says Tully, who lifts again the next day and then some more running the day before the next start.” Tully throws some everyday between starts with some long toss on Day 2 or 4, depending on how he feels. Tanner and wife (the former Taylor Hughes) live in Columbus. She is a former Ohio State volleyball player who just wrapped her career playing in Portugal and is now an auditor for Cardinal Health. “I’m probably one of the only people in the country that get to live at home and play baseball,” says Tully. “Not many people get to do that.” With Taylor working all day, Tanner spends his time working out, playing with the dog or doing things around the house. Off days — like Monday — are for relaxing. Columbus plays in the International League. The Clippers have a six-game homestand April 26-May 1 against Louisville. Columbus is to visit Indianapolis June 7-12.
Nine years after he guided Elkhart (Ind.) Central High School to a state championship, Tanner Tully was called up to the big leagues. The 27-year-old left-handed pitcher was promoted to the Cleveland Guardians Wednesday, April 20. He was one of three players added to Cleveland’s 40-man roster and 28-man active roster as replacements for pitchers Cal Quantrill and Anthony Castro and infielder Owen Miller, all of whom were placed on the 10-day COVID-19 injured list. His last start with the Triple-A Columbus (Ohio) Clippers was April 15. Tully, who was given jersey No. 56, did not pitch in Wednesday’s home doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox. Starting pitchers announced for the series finale at 1:10 p.m. Eastern today (April 21) were former Crown Point High School and Ball State University right-hander Zach Plesac for Cleveland and Dylan Cease for Chicago. The Guardians were to begin weekend series at Yankee Stadium Friday through Sunday, April 22-24. As of Thursday morning, Cleveland had not announced its starting pitchers against New York. As an Elkhart Central senior, Tully hit a home run to lead off the bottom of the first inning and struck out 13 batters while scattering five singles as the Steve Stutsman-coached Blue Blazers topped Indianapolis Cathedral 1-0 for the 2013 IHSAA Class 4A state championship at Victory Field in Indianapolis. Some of his high school teammates had played with him as a youngster with the Jimmy Malcom-coached Rip City Rebels. Jimmy’s son, Cory Malcom, went on to pitch at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock and in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. Tully was Hoosier Diamond magazine’s Indiana Mr. Baseball award winner in 2013. The southpaw pitched for three seasons at Ohio State University (2014-16). He was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year (2014). As a junior (2016), he was first team all-Big Ten, going 8-3 with a 2.34 earned run average and 76 strikeouts to 21 walks in 103 2/3 innings. For his OSU career, he was 18-10 with a 2.93 ERA in 46 games. He competed for the Northwoods League’s Battle Creek (Mich.) Bombers (2014) and Cape Cod League’s Orleans Firebirds (2015) in summer collegiate ball and was selected by Cleveland in the 26th round of the 2016 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Tully has made minor league stops with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Niles, Ohio), Lake County Captains (Eastlake, Ohio), Lynchburg (Va.) Hillcats, Akron (Ohio) Rubber Ducks as well as Columbus. Splitting his time between Double-A and Triple-A in 2021, Tully was 6-6 with a 3.50 ERA and finished second in the club’s minor league system in innings (113). The left-hander made six starts for the 2021 Arizona Fall League’s Scottsdale Scorpions. At the time of his call-up, he had made 118 pro appearances (94 as starter) and was 32-40 with a 3.89 ERA. He had 428 strikeouts and 113 walks in 583 1/3 innings. Tully is married to the former Taylor Hughes, who was a setter for the Ohio State volleyball team (2015-18).
Collin Bice grew up playing at Auburn (Ind.) Little League then DeKalb High School in Waterloo, Ind. This week, Bice was named head baseball coach at his alma mater after two years as a Barons assistant. His coaching in the spring at the high school makes Bice familiar with the returnees and his coaching of 14U all-stars in the summer has allowed him to get to know the incoming freshmen. The 25-year-old is well aware of the winning tradition at DeKalb, having played for Chris Rhodes for his first three prep seasons and Tim Murdock as a senior and from years of taking lessons from Ken Jones. Bice was a freshmen when he began coaching at the Little League and led many teams with friend Bruce Bell. “DeKalb baseball has always been an above-average baseball team,” says Bice, who was made school-board official Dec. 21. “We’re not looking to recreate the wheel. We’re asking what is it going to take to take us to the next level? “I like to consider myself a high-energy guy. I’m going to be flying around with (the players). I plan to increase the tempo and intensity of practice. I hate standing around. “Playing for Coach Rhodes really sparked my passion for the game. I had a great four seasons myself as a Baron. That’s what I want to recreate. I want to impact the lives of 15- to 18-year-olds and give them a great experience.” Bice, a former catcher, likes the way Rhodes and Murdock broke practices into individual groups and will continue to do that. “Each practice we’ll work on what we need to enhance based on the last game or week,” says Bice. “We want to get better each and every day.” A 2015 DeKalb graduate, Bice played one season for Bob Koopmann at Rockford (Ill.) University and three at Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., for Rick Espeset. He credits the Spartans bench boss for imparting plenty of baseball knowledge. A coach of a team every summer except 2018 when he gave lessons as an intern at the Strike Zone in Omaha, Neb., during the summer of 2018, Bice graduated from Manchester in 2019 with a degree in Business Management with a minor in Coaching. While his DeKalb coaching staff is not completed, Bice plans to have former University of Saint Francis left-handed pitcher Kyle DeKoninck return and will likely have father and DeKalb paraprofessional Randy Bice helping him this spring. DeKalb (enrollment around 1,120) is a member of the Northeast Eight Conference (with Bellmont, Columbia City, East Noble, Huntington North, Leo, New Haven and Norwell). In recent season, NE8 game were played as home-and-home series at Tuesdays and Thursdays. In the 2021, the Barons were part of an IHSAA Class 4A sectional grouping with Carroll, East Noble, Fort Wayne Northrop and Fort Wayne Snider. DeKalb has won 19 sectional titles — the last in 2002. A state championship was earned by Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Bill Jones in 1980. DeKalb plays home games on-campus at Baron Field. The grass at the facility was replaced last year. Feeding high school program is Auburn Little League (T-ball to age 12) at Rieke Park and the Junior League (ages 13-15). “I’ve always coached that Junior League level,” says Bice. “That’s important to me.” The past two DeKalb graduating classes have produced college baseball players — Tyler Stahl (Indiana Tech) and Easton Rhodes (Trine University) graduated in 2020 and Aric Ehmke (Frontier Community College in Fairfield, Ill.), Steele Jackson (Pasco-Hernando State College in New Port Richey, Fla.) and Nolan Nack (Trine) earned diplomas in 2021. There have been no signings or commitments from current Barons, but Bice expects that to change. “Our senior class will probably have a few,” says Bice. “The junior class is pretty strong.” Collin’s mother is Dusti Bice, who played on DeKalb’s first softball team as a senior in 1986. His younger brother — Hayden Bice — is a Southern Illinois University Architecture major. Collin Bice is agent aspirant in the office of State Farm Insurance agent Morgan Hefty, located in Auburn. Bice roots for the Cleveland Guardians (formerly Indians).