If there’s one thing to understand about Jack Friedman, and his father Rob, it’s that they both bleed baseball. Jack’s childhood obsession began as a Georgia Tech baseball fan, where he was lucky enough to serve as a bat boy, and even throw out the first pitch of a game.
Needless to say, you can see the athleticism and enthusiasm even in that footage.
But Jack didn’t stop there.
Seeking out advice and information from all over the country, his father Rob began to arm an already hungry and talented athlete with the tools that would unlock doors for him down the road (Rob runs one of the most popular baseball-related twitter-pages under the handle “@PitchingNinja”).
By 13, Jack was getting more serious about training, and had begun to refine his athletic motion. By 14, his strength was easily on par with most kids several years older, and he had tested many of the most popular programs available with good results.
About 6 months before his 15th birthday, Jack came to us at 5’7” and 136 lbs. He was throwing 76-77 mph: an impressive starting point given his age and his size.
Jack’s goals weren’t small, but even he wasn’t ready for what was about to happen. He was already mowing through 15u competition at 14 years old, so it became apparent that framing his goals and expectations would be important to make sure his early success didn’t lead to complacency.
Complacency can start to sneak in, even with a top-tier work ethic, if athletes taste early success without keeping long-term goals in mind. This was one of my biggest mistakes in high school, where I saw early success against subpar competition. I took my foot off the gas pedal ever so slightly, and I knew that couldn’t happen in Jack’s case.
Jack's plan didn't start and end with his first phase of training - coaching requires both communication and adjustments along the way. Within the first 12 weeks, he was up a respectable 15 pounds, but his numbers had begun to level off. With an adjusted nutritional approach (including caloric intake and macronutrient breakdown) he was soon back on track for the 1.5lbs/week goal we had set.
Jack's bodyweight progress: weeks 1-12
3 months later, he was up to 163lbs and throwing in the 85-87 mph range, just before his 15th birthday. His deadlift had increased from 270 to 375lbs and he was mowing through older competition, with 47ks in 28 innings. That summer, playing for the top-ranked East Cobb Astros, he continued his hot streak against 18U competition.
The following year was not without its plateaus and struggles, but by summer 2016 he weighed in at 202 lbs and touched 91 mph multiple times in training (and 90 at a Perfect Game event).
Colleges began to take notice, and in July he committed to playing college baseball at Georgia Tech, the very same school he grew up rooting for. The same school he was a bat boy for all those years earlier. By winter 2017 he had driven those numbers up even higher, touching 93 mph.
Jack circa 2007 as Matt Wieters jogs off the field.
“Ben's training and nutritional insight has set Jack up for a lifetime of taking training, and eating, seriously - he now understands the work he needs to put in to improve.”
-Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja)
High School Coach | Jack's father
Not bad for a 16-year old.
In 2 years, with a plan (and a timely growth spurt) he had accomplished what took me 4+ years to do much of it without guidance and without a plan. Now, touching 93 mph, he is still just a high school junior.
Update Spring 2017: Jack is now hitting taters at 205, and touching 93.
This isn't to take credit for any of Jack's success. Far from it. He put in the work and continues to push himself to an extent that is rare to see at the high school level - but it is to show you what's possible when a father and his kid allow their passion for the game and search for knowledge to drive them.
Every plateau and every struggle become a cooperative effort to figure out how to push through it, none of which is possible without an athlete who is open and willing to lay it all on the line to improve.
So where will Jack's story end?
Only time will tell. One thing is for sure, he's already accomplished more than many people would have ever expected.
And he's just getting warmed up.
Update, November 2017: Jack has now hit 95 as a HS senior. Video below, where he was consistently 91-94: