16 Region Greenup v Rowan

Rowan County’s Cameron Planck warms up before pitching to Greenup County Tuesday, May 31, 2016, during semifinal round of the 16th Region Baseball Tournament in Flemingsburg, Ky. Photo by John Flavell/For The Daily Independent

Most 21-year-olds are planning a transition from one chapter of their lives to the next.

Cam Planck is no different.

The Rowan County alumnus has decided to end his professional baseball playing career.

Planck has retired from the New York Mets organization after a shoulder injury and surgery in 2017 and subsequent pain limited him to 1 2-3 game innings on the mound over parts of four years since he was drafted out of high school in 2016.

“I can truthfully say it was the absolute toughest thing I have ever been through in my entire life,” Planck said Tuesday of his torn shoulder capsule and the events since. “I went to physical therapy for close to six months, I’ve been on multiple throwing programs, I have done every anti-inflammatory that you can even imagine, I’ve been with different doctors, I’ve been with different trainers. I didn’t leave a stone unturned with that whole situation, and my body just wasn’t really responding well to anything.”

Planck didn’t pitch in a regular-season game his first two years in the Mets organization. New York shut him down for the year in 2016 after drafting him in the 11th round, and he noticed a shoulder problem in his last start of extended spring training in 2017. Planck had surgery to fix it that July.

He pitched in two contests for the Mets of the rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2018, lasting one-third of an inning in each.

Planck moved on to the Kingsport Mets, who play in the Appalachian League, also a rookie-level league, this year. He entered a game July 13 in the fourth inning in relief against Greeneville and got the Reds out in order, throwing eight strikes in 12 pitches.

“It was really emotional, honestly,” Planck said of that outing. “It was unbelievable. It was one of the best experiences ever. It was just fantastic. I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.”

That was the last time Planck took the mound, though. The constant pain never subsided.

News of Planck’s retirement broke on Friday, first reported by MetsMinors.net.

“I can comfortably say I feel like I worked harder than anybody,” Planck said. “I feel like I did everything I possibly could to be successful. My body just betrayed me and I was unable to just be healthy. Just when I’d think that I would be good, I would have another setback, and another setback, and another setback.

“I knew if I was good, I was fine. Every time I (was) healthy, everything went well. But ... when I would get extension in my delivery and really try to command the fastball and throw it hard and throw it low, it was just like this excruciating pain in the back of my shoulder.”

Planck said frustration that his work wasn’t rewarded with wellness also played a part in his decision.

“Seeing guys that you know that you work harder than, you eat better than, you train better than, seeing these guys pitch every day (was difficult),” Planck said. “I’m not skipping reps, I’m doing everything I’m supposed to be doing and working my (tail) off, and then it’s like, I just don’t know what to do because my shoulder will just not allow me to do it. I guess basically I just ran out of patience with it.”

Planck graduated from Rowan County in 2016 as one of the most dominant pitchers in northeastern Kentucky history. His 0.38 earned-run average as a senior for the Vikings would rate as the ninth-lowest in a season in the KHSAA record book. He compiled 132 strikeouts in 74 1-3 innings as a 12th-grader.

Planck had signed to play collegiately at Louisville, but after the Mets offered him a signing bonus of $1,000,001, he elected to turn pro.

Despite what he conceded was some disappointment that a promising career didn’t pan out, Planck has plans moving forward — both immediate and long-range.

He is to be married to Taylor Curry, a kindergarten teacher at Clearfield Elementary in Rowan County, in October. Planck is tending to rental properties he owns and plans to go to Maysville Community and Technical College for general-education requirements and complete his degree at Morehead State.

Planck wants to become a high school guidance counselor and coach youth baseball. The late Keith Prater, who coached Planck at Rowan County, remains a role model.

“I definitely want to be a high school counselor. With that being said, I don’t know if I want to be a high school coach,” Planck said. “I want to start young. I want to be at an age, like that 9-10-11 age, where they’re just really getting into baseball and they’re really curious and really want to learn and be better and they’re ready to work. I want to encourage and help.

“High school counseling I definitely want to do, because I feel like I can really connect to those kids and make things easier if they need someone to talk to. I can be the coach Prater. Everybody needs one of those.”

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zklemme@dailyindependent.com