The New York Mets drafted right-handed pitcher Cameron Planck in the 11th round of the 2016 MLB June Amateur Draft from Rowan County High School in Morehead, KY. Cameron later signed with the Mets on July 13, 2016 and received a $1,000,001 million signing bonus.
After the signing, Cameron explained to this writer during an exclusive interview on January, 14, 2017 that the organization made the decision at that time to shut him down for the season due to a heavy workload during Senior year of high school.
Cameron was instead provided with a specific throwing program and routine to follow after joining the organization and work towards building arm strength, fitness and adjusting to pro ball through his participation in the instructional league.
Fast forward to spring 2017 and Cameron was inching closer to his debut, and a dream he has had for as long as he can remember. I caught up with Cameron again for an interview in April 2017 who was at the time prepping to make his debut while pitching in extended spring training.
However, disaster struck again, and Cameron would later go on to make the decision to shut down, this time for shoulder surgery, ending another season before it even started and prolonging the wait to start his dream. Cameron once again found himself back into the down time, knowing only training facilities, rehab trainers and the backfields, while learning and growing throughout it all.
To know the player you should also know the man. Even while seeing his dreams delayed, and going through the process of training and patience, Cameron is a young man of strong character with a strong family background and Kentucky roots.
That is why he never hesitated and jumped at the chance last spring to drive over 80 miles just to meet and mentor a foster youth in the local community, a connection between this writer and a local fitness company at Gymunity Inc owned by Marc Decker who has been putting aside training sessions specifically for children in the social welfare system.
Cameron went specifically to talk life, family, struggle, share insight and experiences with the teen before giving out his number to the youth, chatting with the caregiver and making time and effort to stay in touch with the youth to offer encouragement and guidance as needed.
Fast forward to June 2018, and the time is now for Cameron to continue those final steps to making his so long awaited pro debut. With the love and support of his girlfriend, family, friends and fellow rehabbing teammates and coaches, Cameron has been at the Port St. Lucie training facility since February going through the grind and fighting for his chance at his lifelong goal. I was able to catch up with the now 20 year old Cameron as time inches closer and the short season leagues about to start.
MMN – Cameron, thank you for once again speaking with me through this journey of yours that is now once again seeing a finish line of your pro debut. Can you please tell me more about the events leading up to the shutdown and surgery last year?
Cameron – Thank you for your ongoing support since day one. Basically what happened was that I found to have an interior capsule tear in my shoulder. I’m told it’s more rare of an injury for athletes and pitchers, more rare than say Tommy John Surgery. It’s been a long 11 months going through the whole rehab process since surgery but I can honestly say I feel absolutely better now.
MMN – Are there any new updates on your status, pitching, throwing and timetable for getting back on the mound?
Cameron – The plan is to get onto a mound tomorrow (June 11th) with a scheduled date to make my pro debut and start for the GCL Mets in a rehab game assignment on July 4th.
MMN – Any changes to your assortment of pitches?
Cameron – I’m working on use of all the same pitches. I feel like I still have a feel for all of them. I will go into the season using a fastball, slider, change-up and curveball. I’m hoping to definitely make use of my slider in the coming year as go to second pitch.
MMN – What has part of off-season and training entailed for you?
Cameron – Early on right after surgery it started with me throwing from about 60 feet. Later moved back to 65 feet, and on from there until I was eventually throwing 90 to 120 feet. Then start to alternate from the distances day to day, and always check in on how I am feeling, any fatigue or soreness, and then work on some from flat ground as well.
MMN – What has this process been like for you?
Cameron – It has been such a slow process, one that can really test you and your mental discipline. It’s an absolute grind.
MMN – When did you start getting the word that you can continue back on your path and get back to getting the clearance to get back throwing?
Cameron – After surgery I was sent back to meet with Dr. David Altchek, who eventually gave the instructions and okay to move forward in my rehab and start the throwing and pitching process.
MMN – What have you been doing throughout this current process this spring?
Cameron – I’ve been here (Port St. Lucie) since February, lifting, training, rehabbing, throwing and watching extended spring games. It’s been so tough watching the games, knowing they are out there and I want to be out there with them. I’m so excited to now be getting out there. My plan now is to work back from 90 feet, then finally get on a mound and throw to a catcher tomorrow. I feel like I can throw everything, but will focus on whatever the coaches to tell, any amount large or small during the session, and work on my comfort.
MMN – Has there been talk yet about your assignment, league and pitching structure to start?
Cameron – Plan right now, as it is mapped out and structured, is for me to start pitching off a mound on Monday, and pitch in the Gulf Coast League (GCL Mets affiliate) July 4th.
MMN – What are some of the goals you have set for yourself this year?
Cameron – I told myself my main goal is to remain healthy into the end of the season. Whether I pitch the year all in short season ball, move up to a full season league team, regardless I want to first and foremost stay healthy. I just want to build off of that. I’m just so tired of being injured. Finally a time for me to grow, learn and succeed without worrying more about my injury. I still don’t know of any plans as far if I will be a starter or come in as a reliever this year. I will do whatever they ask of me.
MMN – What has this process been like for your family and friends?
Cameron – My family and my girlfriend Taylor have been beyond helpful throughout this entire process. I am so thankful for them. I’ve gone through so much time, for example, in my room alone, frustrated. the doctor told me it would be a roller coaster. But me seeing myself as a super human I thought I would be fine. Their love and support has been everything I could have ever imagined. I am forever grateful to them. All the times I was down and mentally exhausted, they brought me back up.
I also can’t speak highly enough of my teammates and the guys in rehab with me. Guys like Bryce Hutchinson, Jordan Humphreys, Max Kuhns, Thomas Szapucki, Chase Ingram and Joel Huertas among others like me are all wanting to get back so bad, working as hard as we can. First ones in the gym, last ones out. Guys like Kuhns and Humphreys push you to the limit to stay strong. The happiness to be able to do this, learning and growing, and knowing succeed or fail I want to be out there competing again.
MMN – Who are some of the professionals that have helped you through this rehab process?
Cameron – My physical therapist Robin Cromwell and also Jeremy down in Kentucky were huge in helping me from the beginning. Along with support from Mets rehab coordinators and staff Dave Pearson and Jon Debus. They have helped me so much all along the way. I can’t thank them enough.
MMN – What do you think of this entire process since the MLB draft in 2016?
Cameron – I believe there is a plan for everything. I needed this to mature, develop my mental toughness and be comfortable in who I am. Being around the people I have, learning things from them, the experience I’ve gained and what I have experience. I mean without this injury I wouldn’t have had this new knowledge and strength. It was so touch for all these months, but in the long run, it will make me stronger. I can look back on it in a positive way. My final goal remains the same, to be pitching in the big leagues.
MMN – Thank you for your time Cameron.
Cameron – Thank you again for supporting me.