Written by CBBSN Scout, Dylan Anderson
(Photo from Matthew Plisko’s Twitter, seen here)
The Macalester Scots are coming off what likely was the program’s best baseball season. It included the team’s first ever berth into the NCAA tournament where they were ousted in consecutive games after falling in an 11-inning nail-biter at the hands of conference foe St. Thomas.
The Scots saw their season dwindle away when freshman and emerging ace Matthew Plisko allowed the game winning run. The 6-foot-1 right-hander should be an intriguing prospect as the 2018 season rolls around. The Georgia-born righty was one of five all conference Scots last season and one of three to return, but the only underclassman.
Plisko managed to obtain a decision in all 10 of his appearances with two of them coming in relief. He notched a 2.36 ERA in 55 2/3 innings, allowing just a single home run. The gem of his season came in late April as he tossed a complete game shutout against conference opponent St. Olaf. The 113-pitch effort saw Plisko record more strikeouts than baserunners allowed. He fanned seven and walked a pair.
A pitch count of 113 is somewhat concerning for a pitcher of his age, but it was not his only 100-plus pitch outing of the year. Perhaps Plisko’s ability to stay in a game so long late in the season is a testament to his durability. It came when the team could use it, in the back end of a doubleheader following a loss earlier that day.
The Scots were 7-3 in games where Plisko pitched and 19-14 in all other contests. They won six of his eight starts. Plisko’s season totals don’t suggest he was a major strikeout artist in his first NCAA campaign, as he totaled 39. Seven of those came in just four innings against UW Superior. With 18 walks on the year, Plisko managed more than a 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio. His only appearance with more walks than strikeouts was a conference tournament game against Bethel, which the Scots won.
Scouting from PerfectGame.org from Plisko’s high school days describe him as a 190-pound prospect with an athletic build; video confirms this. The site’s report says his fastball tops out in the low 80s, with command and a deceptive, cross-body delivery that allows him to miss bats. I won’t get carried away with Jered Weaver comparisons, I promise.
Video of Plisko from his prep days show a rather high leg kick from the windup. He dips his back when loading. The extension he gets on his release is poor to unspectacular. He uses his legs well, but his upper body is tight and he fails to take full advantage of his good frame. For a pitcher of his size, the velocity is underwhelming, but some projectability may be present.
His back looks curled up as he delivers, and his arm stays close to his body. It’s not the cleanest delivery, making command and long term durability somewhat of a concern. If Plisko could develop better extension with his arm and upper body, perhaps he could add a few ticks to his heater. Plisko’s hip and shoulder rotation are both underwhelming, though he appears to be balanced throughout his motion. He has a modest breaking ball and was coming along with a changeup, according to PerfectGame.
Despite his youth and underpowering stuff, Plisko managed the second most strikeouts on the team in his first year. Furthermore, Plisko was the only Scot to throw more than 10 innings and have at least twice as many strikeouts as batters walked. Recruitment profile video of Plisko shows he self-identifies as a student of the classroom and the game. His election to attend an academically rigorous university far from home supports that. His high school coach describes him the same way. The combination of his outperforming his stuff and attentiveness to learning suggest he may be a high-character hurler with an aptitude for pitching.
After their breakout season in 2017, the Scots are poised to contend once again in 2018. They even received votes in the preseason ranking, just missing the cut for the top 40. With a full college offseason under his belt, Plisko, now a sophomore, should be ready to lead the Scots staff coming into the next season where he will look to build off of a promising freshman season and blossom into an ace for Macalester.