EVERETT — Statistics place the percentage of left-handed people at about 10 percent worldwide.
In Major League Baseball, where being left-handed offers certain advantages, it is approximately 25 percent.
Then there is the Plassmeyer family. For two generations the Plassmeyers have capitalized on being southpaws, and Everett AquaSox starter Michael Plassmeyer has done so in the Northwest League this summer.
Plassmeyer’s father, Marty, was a left-handed starter at Division I Nicholls State, and his older brother, Mitch, is a left-handed reliever at Division I Bradley University in Illinois.
“It kind of runs in the family and makes it easier,” said Plassmeyer, who returns to Everett with his NWL North Division first-half champion teammates tonight at 7:05 p.m. against Vancouver.
Plassmeyer was the Seattle Mariners’ fourth-round pick out of the University of Missouri in June. He has been largely unhittable this summer as he has fashioned an 0-1 record with a 2.13 earned-run average and a 0.79 WHIP. Opposing hitters are batting just .188 against him and he’s fanned 25 hitters in 122⁄3 innings.
“As a lefty he has real good deception and it looks like right now it’s very tough for the hitter to figure it out,” Everett manager Jose Moreno said. “The key is to throw strikes. When you can throw strikes like him you have a chance to succeed.”
The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder has made seven appearances including six starts. However, he has been limited to just two innings per appearance after throwing more than 90 innings for Mizzou this spring.
“I’ve been a starter my whole college career and everything,” Plassmeyer said. “When you start the game you kind of want to keep rolling once you’re out there. I understand why (that’s the case) with the innings limit and everything.”
Plassmeyer does not throw exceptionally hard. He tops out at about 91-92 miles-per-hour, relying more on location and pitch selection to be effective. He changed his grip on what he terms his “slurve” at the end of his sophomore year at Mizzou and spent last offseason working on it.
“(The coaches) wanted something harder and sharper, and my old (curveball) was kind of loopy so guys could see it right away,” Plassmeyer said. “Then coming back for my junior year I was comfortable with it. It was just kind of figuring out how to locate it and make it work from there.”
Unlike the majority of his college and now professional teammates, Plassmeyer never pitched in summer ball. Instead he trained back home in St. Louis at P3 Academy with former Missouri volunteer assistant and now Mariners bullpen coach Brian DeLunas, perfecting the slurve while adding several miles-per-hour to his fastball according to a story in the Columbia Daily Tribune.
“(Velocity) has always kind of been the thing I’ve needed to work on,” Plassmeyer said. “I’ve always trusted myself to throw strikes, so rather than go and just pitch more innings it just made more sense to me to do a velo program in the offseason.”
The transition to the “everyday grind”of professional baseball is something to which Plassmeyer has had to adjust.
“Here it’s just game, game, game and then try to get your work in on your own,” Plassmeyer said. “So kind of coming up with a routine where I can still work on stuff on my own.”
As a junior at Mizzou in 2018 he went 5-4 with two complete games in 14 starts. He struck out 103 while walking just 17 in 91 1/3 innings and fashioned a 3.05 ERA. The Mariners took him 118th overall before assigning him to Everett.
“I went a little bit higher than I expected,” he said. “I was happy to hear it in the fourth.”
Plassmeyer has started six of the seven games in which he’s appeared for Everett, with his lone relief appearance coming in the game started by Rob Whalen in a rehab appearance on July 11. Plassmeyer has allowed runs in just two of his seven appearances.
He surrendered two runs on two hits in 1 2/3 innings while still fanning three in what was ostensibly his worst start during Everett’s 4-3 win at Eugene on June 29. Plassmeyer also suffered his first loss on Saturday at Boise during the Hawks’ 9-0 win when he allowed a two-run home run following a second-inning error. He’s given up just five hits and fanned 17 in his other five outings.
“Right now he’s doing a real good job, and that’s going to be depending on the learning process, getting strong and trying to learn the sequences to be able to pitch at the next level,” Moreno said.
For the latest AquaSox news follow Jesse Geleynse on Twitter.