Arjona Off To 3-1 Start

By Josh Walfish
Daily News Record

HARRISONBURG – When Bob Wease has handed the ball to Kyle Arjona this season, good things have tended to happen for the Harrisonburg Turks.

The right-hander from the University of New Orleans has made three starts for the Turks so far this year and pitched at least seven innings in all of them. He’s 3-1 with a 1.32 ERA – second best in the Valley Baseball League – and 33 strikeouts tops in the league.

No other pitcher has throw more innings than Arjona in the Valley this season with teammate Jake Brace second at 27 innings.

“I think he’s one of the best pitchers in the Valley League,” Wease said. “He’s gone out there three times already for us, and he’s won those three games. He’s really a quality pitcher.”

“(He sits) at 92, 93 (mph) and he throws strikes. He has a great (changeup) and a great hammer (curveball).”

Arjona has throw 67 percent of his pitchers for strikes this season, issuing only two walks in 27 1/3 innings on the mound. He said he has tried to be aggressive with his pitches all summer, trying to throw strikes and attack hitters whenever possible with his variety of offerings.

All five runs Arjona had given up entering Friday came in the first two innings as he tries to adjust to the strike zone and his own body. But once he settles into a game, it has been nearly impossible to disrupt his rhythm as he mows down hitter after hitter.

“Filling up the zone in the begging of the game really helps you get comfortable with the strike zone,” Arjona said. “You understand, where the umpire is calling them and where he’s not. You’re getting a feel for your body and warming up as the games goes on and just getting more comfortable.”


Once Arjona gets into a groove, it sets the tone for the rest of the team. Turks infielder Grand Van Scoy said pitchers like Arjona make his job easier because the consistent rhythm keeps the fielders engaged with the play.

“Kyle has a great tempo,” Van Scoy said. “As an infielder, it’s always nice when your pitcher has a good tempo. You’re able to stay on your toes and you’re always ready for the ball, you never get lackadaisical.”

After making 10 starts for New Orleans this season, but rarely lasting more than four innings, Arjona said the Pioneers’ coaching staff are expecting him to be a full-time starter in 2019. He said he is trying to prepare himself for the task by working on the mental aspects of the game with the Turks learning from the different positions he finds himself in over the course of a game.

He said entering his last season as a college pitcher, there isn’t much mechanical work for him to do, and he has to shift his focus to being the most resilient and well-prepared hurler he can be for his team.

“When you get later in your years and you’re not a freshman or a sophomore, you’ve got to tap into the mental game and work on situations,” Arjona said. “I’ve done a lot of learning, just figuring out how to get out of situations when you put yourself in them. When you’re not forced into those situations with errors and stuff. It’s a lot of mental stuff, not so much working on my (Pitches).”

Arjona did disregard a small part of the instructions he received from his coaches in New Orleans before departing for the summer. He has worked on the skills and mental attributes they requested, but he wasn’t going to let that progress affect the result of the game he is pitching.

“They told me just to work on a bunch of stuff because it’s the summer and not really worry about winning.” Arjona said with a smirk. “But the competitive nature gets to you.”

“He’s a competitor,” Wease added. “If you watch him pitch, he’s a bulldog out there. He’s a competitive as it gets, and it makes him good just being that competitive.”