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"IT Guy" Jake Fishman is always on call

Jacksonville reliever mixes baseball with love of technology
Jake Fishman is possibly the only player in professional baseball who runs his own technology-based YouTube channel. (Tim Davis/tdphotography)
August 1, 2022

Like any good IT guy, Jake Fishman knows he could get called upon at any time. It could be from a coworker with a tech issue or from the broadcaster, whose computer suddenly shut off mid-game. It could also even be a bases-loaded jam in the ninth inning. The Jacksonville

Like any good IT guy, Jake Fishman knows he could get called upon at any time.

It could be from a coworker with a tech issue or from the broadcaster, whose computer suddenly shut off mid-game. It could also even be a bases-loaded jam in the ninth inning. The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp reliever, dubbed as the club’s “IT Guy” by his teammates this season, always needs to be prepared for any situation he could be thrust into.

“To be honest, I don't know where my passion for technology really started originally,” Fishman said. “I took a couple coding classes in college and didn't really like it that much. But it was when I started doing it on my own to build out my own software, where I had an idea and it spurred something inside of me. And I was like, ‘I love this.’”

Fishman’s love of technology extends even beyond the Jumbo Shrimp clubhouse. He has his own YouTube channel, called Fish Tech. A quick scroll through the page shows instructional videos, reviews, tips and tricks around all sorts of technology, hardware and software. Several of them have thousands of views.

For those who only know Fishman as one of Jacksonville’s top relievers in 2022, the page is also revealing in another way: there is not one mention of him being a professional baseball player, one good enough to pitch for Team Israel at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics and also finally make his major league debut on July 31, 2022 after being on a Triple-A roster the last two seasons.

“I have always been an avid video gamer, so a lot of the YouTube channels (I watch) focus around technology tips for MacBooks and video game stuff,” said Fishman. “The team references me as the “IT Guy,” so if anyone has any problems, they come to me and I help them solve it.”

Jake Fishman has pitched for Jacksonville in both 2021 and 2022 in addition to his time with Team Israel at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. (Tim Davis/tdphotography)

His passion for technology extends beyond just fixing problems. Fishman has even created his own software program: AquaTouch – The Powerful Touch Bar Redesign.

“I came up with that idea quite a few years ago and I remember looking online and seeing that no one had done it yet,” Fishman said. “And then COVID hit and we were in quarantine and I looked again and I was like, ‘surely, four years later, someone has had to do this,’ and nobody had done it yet.

“So I started doing a ton of research, did market research and eventually landed on me starting to build it. I started hitting roadblocks, and then I would get some help by hiring someone on Upward (Tech Solutions) to help me push through that, whatever roadblock I had. And then I would keep going until I got this thing done. It was a really interesting project to take part in and I was really happy that I ended up doing it.”

One would think the pitcher who understands coding and technology at the level Fishman does would be into as much data as he can possibly find for his other job on the mound. In this case, though, Fishman wants to avoid being overloaded with information.

“I have very mixed feelings about it because there are some data points that I like to look into and some that totally throw me off on the mound, usually in regards to the hitters,” said Fishman. “Their aggressiveness is good to look at, but I don't want to get super deep into it. I just want to look at the overall aggressiveness. There was an outing last year where I actually took out all of the numbers on a notecard and put it in my hat. It was aggressiveness in every pitch count, every count what their weaknesses are, and it totally messed me up on the mound. So I found that if you just go out there in the moment and give everything you got instead of trying to process too much information, that's going to make it a lot better.”

As Fishman’s understanding of technology and his ability to share it with others has improved over the years, so has his pitching. The now-27-year-old departed Sharon High School in Massachusetts in 2013 with his velocity topping out in the low-80s, meaning his options to play collegiately were limited at-best. Fishman decided on going to Union College (Schenectady, N.Y.), a Division III school that had never had a player selected in any MLB First-Year Player Draft. Bill Cunningham, the most recent major leaguer from Union College, finished his career in 1912 as a teammate of Walter Johnson with the Washington Senators.

“I don't feel like I was super overlooked because by the time I left high school,” Fishman said. “I was probably throwing 79-81 but had a good frame and you can tell that if I could fill out, then everything would start to come out better,”

Jake Fishman's major league debut came with the Miami Marlins on July 31, 2022 against the New York Mets. (Joey Mims/Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp)

Evidently, Fishman filled out quickly. In just his second career start, the southpaw tossed a no-hitter. He finished his freshman year with a 7-0 record and 2.29 ERA. For good measure, he batted .400 as a first baseman and designated hitter on days he did not pitch. Fishman followed that up with a 1.48 ERA on the mound and .477 average at the plate as a sophomore. During his junior season, Fishman led all of college baseball with a 0.41 ERA, registering another 7-0 record and 85 strikeouts in 66.0 innings pitched. Though his batting average slumped to a measly .361, Fishman earned both the Liberty League’s Pitcher of the Year and Player of the Year honors.

Though Fishman’s career 18-2 record, 1.36 ERA and .410 batting average at Union sparkled, it was still Division III baseball. It took a chance playing for the Wareham Gateman of the famed Cape Cod League during the summer of 2016 to truly put himself on the map.

“Coming out of a D-III school, playing for those summer college ball teams is going to help a lot (getting noticed by scouts),” said Fishman. “That's where I got most of my initial exposure, like the Cape Cod League, then that kind of got my name around. Once it was passed around, a few scouts started showing up at my games. Then my junior year, I put together a really good season numbers-wise and the Blue Jays happened to come to the best game I ever had in college, and that's most likely what helped me get drafted. You just got to be at the right time, the right place and just get that opportunity.”

With all the effort he pours into baseball and technology, Fishman’s time is valuable, yet short. His opportunity on the mound now lies in the Miami Marlins’ organization. After Miami selected him in the Triple-A phase of the 2020 Rule 5 draft, Fishman spent the entirety of the 2021 season with Jacksonville, going 5-1 with a 3.67 ERA over 34 games, including two starts.

That campaign, his first in Triple-A, allowed Fishman to analyze what it would take to succeed at the highest level of Minor League Baseball. Like any good IT guy, he spent his downtime recalibrating things, including a visit to the fabled data-driven player development lab Driveline in Washington state. It has allowed Fishman to unlock another level of performance in 2022.

“I really started in 2021, it was my first year in Triple-A, so, I had to learn what the new level was like, had to see if my stuff still played, and I really felt like my slider had taken a downturn,” Fishman said. “I spent the offseason kind of reassessing what I could change to make that better. I went out to Driveline in Seattle, and they helped me fix my slider to make sure that it was coming off my middle finger rather than my pointer finger. That gains anywhere from 16-18 inches of extra horizontal movement, so that is a massive difference that has helped me this year.”

Thus, the IT Guy continues to plug away. He’s already created his own tech-based YouTube channel, his own software program and a devoted following amongst his own teammates for anything technology-related.

He knows the call can come at any time. Is another call to the major leagues next?