Catching up with former CWU pitcher Jake Forrester

Jake Forrester was drafted in the 37th round of the June 2019 MLB Amateur Draft by the Cleveland Indians.

Courtesy of Jake Forrester

Jake Forrester was drafted in the 37th round of the June 2019 MLB Amateur Draft by the Cleveland Indians.

Mitchell Roland, Senior Reporter

In baseball, an inside pitch can often lead to a batter breaking their bat if they make contact. But one aptly named former CWU pitcher knows a well-placed pitch isn’t the only way to make firewood.

Jake Forrester, a Central graduate and a right-handed pitcher in the Cleveland Indians farm system, is a fourth-generation timber sportsman. His great grandfather, grandfather and his dad all competed.

His dad Mike was even profiled in 2008 by the Colbert Report while preparing for the first round of the 2008 STIHL world championships. But what exactly are timber sports? Mike said the events require both brute strength and technique.

“It’s a cross between football and golf,” Mike said.

Mike said his grandfather was a timber setter and started participating in timber sports after a friend suggested he try it out. Over the years, the sport has become more popular, in part due to events being broadcast on ESPN.

“It’s a little more common now,” Mike said. “People are more curious.”

The notoriety has also brought better competition to the sport, Mike said.

“Back then, it was more industrial people,” Mike said. “It’s gotten to be more of a professional sport.”

Jake said he grew up in timber sports. His parents first started bringing him to events when he was just a year old.

“I always enjoyed being around it,” Jake said.

From there, Jake entered his first choker setting event when he was 13 years old and took fourth place. The event is a race, where participants run through an obstacle course, retrieve a choker, return to their starting position and wrap the choker around a log, and then race to the end of the course again.

“I was immediately hooked on it from watching it,” Jake said.

While Jake grew up in the sport, around fourth grade he noticed not everyone knew what competitive timber sports were.

“I realized not everyone’s family knows about it,” he said.

Jake said he does different activities than those his dad competes in. One of his favorites is the ax throw, although it’s “not like you see at bars.”

Jake said competitive ax throwing involves a two-sided ax. The ax must land on the same side that was facing the stump when it’s thrown.

“I usually only do [ax throwing] at shows,” Jake said.

While Forrester may throw axes in his free time, the pitching mound is where he mows down the competition.

Drafted in the 37th round of last year’s MLB draft, Jake said he reported for his first Indians spring training in Goodyear, Arizona on March 1, only two weeks before spring training was shut down due to COVID-19.

During his brief time in Arizona, Jake said he was surrounded by Indians major leaguers. One morning while he was working out, he looked up and saw all-star shortstop Francisco Lindor working out next to him.

Jake said he also had run-ins with players such as Adam Cimber, Roberto Perez and 2019 MLB All-Star game MVP Shane Bieber.

During his short time as a minor league baseball player, Jake said he had to adjust his throwing regiment and mechanics.

“My arm is going through way more stuff than it’s ever gone through,” Jake said.

As the closer for CWU, he was used to throwing a couple times a weekend. Now, he has bullpens, simulated games and long toss nearly every day.

When someone is drafted, they do not immediately go to the Major Leagues. Instead, the team assigns the player to one of their minor league affiliates. After he was drafted and signed last year, Jake was assigned to the Indians affiliate in the Arizona Rookie League.

“When I got there, I was nervous,” Jake said.

After two appearances, Jake was shut down for a month due to injury.  After he came back, Jake said he realized the batters were struggling to hit his breaking pitches.

“That’s where I got most of my success,” Jake said. “I really lived off of off-speed pitches when I got to rookie ball.”

With baseball on hiatus, and no start date in sight Jake said he’s had to get creative for workouts. Jake said he does his conditioning in the driveway of his family’s 30-acre property and throws weighted balls in a makeshift gym in his dad’s workshop.

“I do as much as I can with what I got,” Jake said.