Fishman getting national attention

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By Joshua Kummins

Jake Fishman didn’t know how to react.

The junior left-handed pitcher/first baseman and his Union College teammates had just unloaded the bus before a game last week when he learned the news.

Fishman had been named to the 60-man midseason watch list for USA Baseball’s Golden Spikes Award, given annually to the top player in the amateur game.

Current Major League Baseball stars Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, and Buster Posey are just some more recent winners of the award, so that’s some pretty good company.

“It means a lot to me. It just really shows that you put in the hard work and you’ll get noticed,” Fishman said. “To me, you look at those names and you’re really just like, ‘Wow. How am I in the same class as these guys?’ It’s really an honor.”

The Sharon, Mass., native is just the second Division 3 player to earn the prestigious listing at any point this season, joining a fellow New Englander in Southern Maine shortstop Sam Dexter.

As Union head coach Paul Mound said, Fishman has certainly worked hard since he stepped foot on campus in Schenectady, N.Y. The benefits of that hard work remain visible, with a quick glance at the stat sheet.

Union athletics photo

This season, the two-time All-Liberty League First Teamer is 4-0 with a 0.51 ERA and has struck out a whopping 51 batters over his 35 innings of work. Fishman has pitched complete games in three of his five appearances. Oh, and he’s also the team’s best hitter with a .388 average.

“All he’s done is worked extraordinarily hard at the game and improving himself physically and mentally,” said Mound, who is in his sixth season leading the Dutchmen. “And he’s gotten himself to a point where he’s excelling on the field. The numbers certainly indicate that, but probably more importantly he’s excelling in every aspect of life.”

Being named to the watch list is not only an incredible baseball feat, but one that gives Fishman the opportunity to remember where he came from and where he is now.
Union College is a small school, just as Sharon, Mass., is a small town. For Fishman, being able to represent both is an honor in itself.

“To represent Union College, I love it. Just because I love the school and the people who go here, so that means a lot,” Fishman said. “And especially coming from Sharon, Massachusetts, where it’s a small town and not many people get noticed for athletics, it feels like a big accomplishment.”

Fishman credits a lot of his success to a summer of growth in the Futures Collegiate League, a rapidly-growing summer circuit in New England with a focus on developing the region’s talent. Playing about a dozen miles from home for the Brockton Rox, Fishman posted a 4-1 record with one save and allowed just eight earned runs in his 32 innings of work.
New Englanders are spoiled with top-notch summer ball across three different leagues, so the competition will help any collegiate player get better.

Union athletics photo

The Futures League was no exception for Fishman as it features players from all three NCAA divisions. He learned lessons, on the fly, on how to approach hitters and achieve success on the mound.

“It really got me prepared just to come back and think about how I just really wanted to dominate these guys here,” Fishman said. “You can’t take anybody for granted. At any time if you leave a pitch down the middle, they’re going to rock it.”

Junior year is pivotal for any college baseball player, and it’s looking like Fishman has saved his best collective performance for the here and now.

Whether the MLB Draft comes calling early this summer or not, Fishman has a temporary contract lined up with the Cape Cod League’s Wareham Gatemen. But Mound feels that Fishman’s future is bright, no matter where he ends up.

“The reason I feel so strongly about his ceiling being so high is his approach to everything, and how he works. Not just baseball skills, but everything,” Mound said. “Everything the kid does is goal-oriented, and he’s driven to succeed.” “He’s going to be a success story, no matter where it ends up being.”