Jake Forrester had a childhood dream come true on Wednesday when the Umpqua Valley Christian School graduate was taken in the 37th round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Cleveland Indians.
“I’ve been dreaming about being a professional baseball player since at least the third grade,” Forrester said. “To have it come true is unreal.”
The path to professional baseball player has been a difficult one for Forrester, a fifth-year senior at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington.
“I’ve had some of the lowest parts of my life here (at CWU),” the Idleyld Park native explained. Prior to his junior season, the right-handed pitcher suffered an injury to his throwing elbow and went under the knife for an experimental surgery to repair his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL).
The 6-foot, 185-pound Forrester missed his junior season due to the injury, but worked his way back to pitch two more seasons for the Wildcats.
He finished his college career with eight saves, third all-time in CWU history. In his senior season, Forrester appeared in 15 games and threw 18 1/3 innings, striking out 36 batters and allowing just five runs.
Forrester had an earned run average of 2.45 and held opposing hitters to a batting average of just .148.
“The coaches kept me around. The coaches helped me out big time up here,” Forrester said. “They helped me through it all. They kept me around and believed in me, brought me back up. It’s been really tough up here, but to have it end like this is really great.”
Forrester nearly missed the big news because he was dozing off while stressing about the draft.
“I was half asleep on the couch, honestly, and I got a text from the Indians’ area scout that asked ‘if we take you in the next couple of rounds will you sign?’,” Forrester remembered. “I said, ‘hell yeah’.”
Five teams had been in contact with Forrester prior to the draft, but Cleveland had been the most recent. He had thrown a bullpen session for the Indians’ scout three weeks ago.
Despite interest from multiple teams, Forrester wasn’t certain that his name would get called in the 40-round draft.
“I was stressing when it got up to round 30 through 33,” said Forrester, who was taken with the 1,120th pick overall. “I was freaking out (when it happened). I ran outside. I was screaming. The girlfriend brought over a bottle of champagne and we popped it.”
Getting drafted has thrown Forrester’s life into a whirlwind. He’s graduating Saturday from CWU and is scheduled to report to Arizona on Monday for training camp. The Indians will have a signing commitment next Friday and the season starts on June 17.
Forrester expects to start the summer on one of Cleveland’s rookie league teams in Peoria, Arizona.
“Going through all the adversity (at CWU), I never gave up. That’s how I’m going to go into pro ball,” Forrester said. “I’m not going to give up. I’m going to live out my dream. I’m going to strive for it and I’m going to give it my all.”