Professional pitcher Michael Plassmeyer pursuing BSBA at UMSL while working to reach major leagues

by | Jun 5, 2023

Plassmeyer pitched collegiately at MU but transferred to UMSL after getting drafted because of its proximity to his offseason home and the convenience of its online courses.
Pitcher for Lehigh Valley IronPigs is on the mound, pitching in a game.

Michael Plassmeyer is pitching for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs while pursuing a business degree at UMSL. (Photo by Morgan Weindel)

Michael Plassmeyer wishes he could pass the time playing cards with his Lehigh Valley IronPigs teammates as they travel by bus from Allentown, Pennsylvania, to road games around the Triple-A International League.

But homework usually takes priority for the left-handed starting pitcher. He’s working to earn his BSBA from the University of Missouri–St. Louis while awaiting his next opportunity to pitch in the major leagues after making two appearances with the Philadelphia Phillies last season.

Plassmeyer has been juggling college and professional baseball since 2018. That was the year the Seattle Mariners selected him in the fourth round of the Major League Baseball Draft after watching him go 5-4 with a 3.05 ERA and team-leading 103 strikeouts in 91 1/3 innings during his junior year at the University of Missouri–Columbia.

Getting drafted fulfilled a dream Plassmeyer had since he started playing sports in St. Louis, eventually shining at De Smet Jesuit High School. But he didn’t want to abandon his education, so he transferred within the UM System to UMSL because it was closer to his offseason home and offered greater flexibility with online classes as he embarked on his minor league career.

He’s continued working toward his degree a little at a time while moving up the ranks of the minor leagues.

“They are all very willing to work with me,” Plassmeyer said of the faculty and staff members in UMSL’s College of Business Administration, “and have been very understanding of how unique my situation is trying to get that degree while traveling across the country.”

He’s particularly grateful to his academic advisor, Ken Rapsilber, for helping him get through the last leg of his studies, supporting him and serving as the go-between with his professors to help him stay on track with exams.

Plassmeyer is majoring in general business after first trying accounting while at MU.

“It was just all the numbers without any sort of substance to it,” he said. “Going through Accounting I and II at Mizzou, I just felt like it was, ‘Here’s a spreadsheet of a million numbers – just make it work.’ And there wasn’t any dealing with people or anything like that. It just felt like I would be staring at a screen the whole time. I just didn’t really want that.”

Instead, he imagines himself becoming an entrepreneur when his professional baseball career ends, possibly owning a gym or a baseball training facility or something in the areas of kinesiology or exercise science.

But he hopes that won’t be for many more years.

Plassmeyer has been traded three times since getting drafted, though it hasn’t stopped his progress toward his ultimate goal. The Mariners dealt him to the Tampa Bay Rays in November of 2018. He spent three years in that organization until Tampa traded him to the San Francisco Giants in June 2021. He worked his way up to Triple-A with the Giants before they dealt him to Philadelphia for Austin Wynns on June 8, 2022.

He went 6-3 with a 2.41 ERA for Lehigh Valley last year when he finally got the call to the major leagues.

“They called my manager when we were on the bus ride back from Buffalo,” Plassmeyer said. “We stopped for a little break, and he called me over to the side. He told me I was going into the big leagues. That next day we drive to Philly.”

Plassmeyer pitched 1 1/3 perfect innings, striking out Cincinnati Reds catcher Austin Romine on three pitches with the bases loaded, in his major-league debut on Aug. 23.

He got a chance to make his first start against the Houston Astros just before the regular season ended on Oct. 5 as the Phillies rested their starters in preparation for their playoff run. He held the Astros to three runs on nine hits while striking out six in six innings.

“It was a dream come true, as cheesy as it sounds,” he said. “I mean, that’s kind of what you’re working for when you get drafted or you get moved up to a new level. But the ultimate goal is to go up to the big leagues, be able to pitch in front of all those people and make it to the top level. So being able to say that I’ve done that before is really cool. I’m hoping to get back there and be able to stay up there for a little bit longer.”

Plassmeyer is working to complete his capstone class. It’s possible the next time he pitches in the major leagues, he’ll do so as a college graduate.

Wendy Todd

Wendy Todd