Most of his life basketball was Jared Arnold’s main sport.
All that changed about three years ago. Now baseball is his first love.
“I’ve been playing baseball for several years, but really basketball was my sport,” he explained. “But I had a lot of people tell me how talented I was (as a pitcher) and they said I could do something with it so I started to take (baseball) more seriously.
“Now it’s something I want to pursue.”
A year ago Arnold, who was coming off trips to the Canada Cup with Team Alberta and the midget AAA nationals with Fort McMurray, received an offer to attend Minot State University in North Dakota. He’s since accepted the offer.
“I was contacted after the Canada Cup and we made a trip to check out the school and liked it,” the 17-year-old said.
“I’m looking forward to it. There’s a lot of Canadians there, which will make for an easier transition.”
Jared, who is in his third season with the Red Deer Carstar Braves midget AAA squad, saw his career blossom over the last couple of seasons. He come up through the Red Deer Minor Baseball Association and spent one winter at the Vauxhall Baseball Academy.
“I spent my Grade 11 there,” he said. “It was a good experience.”
But last year with the birth of the baseball academy at St. Joseph’s High School in Red Deer, Arnold was able to return home.
“It’s nice to be home and have the same opportunity to work on your game during the winter,” said the six-foot-two, 160-pound right-hander.
“And it’s nice to graduate with my friends.”
Besides the opportunity to showcase his talents at the Canada Cup and nationals, Jared was selected to play for Alberta at the Tournament 12 (T12) put on by the Toronto Blue Jays.
“That was an amazing experience, just to be on the major league field and to be around the Jays alumni and to be able to pick their brains,” said Arnold, who pitched one inning.
His fastball has always been Arnold’s main strength.
“My velocity came naturally, although my accuracy wasn’t always there,” he said with a laugh. “It took a few years but that’s come around and it’s working out well for me.
At a tournament this year Jared’s fastball was clocked at 87-88 and as he grows and fills out that will improve.
He also has a good curve and is working on his change up and a cutter.
“My curve was my off-speed pitch but I’m working on my change to make it better and some coaches have said with the way I throw I should throw a cutter and I’m working on that now.”
Jared has always been a starter and hopes that’s the case at Minot State.
“They want me to come down a bit earlier to work on that,” he said.
But first he’s concentrating on the Braves, who will host the Western Canadian midget AAA championships Aug. 15-18 at Great Chief Park.
“That’s something we’re all looking forward to and I think we’ll do well at,” he said. “When we put our hat in to host it we really didn’t know what kind of team we’d have, but we’re at the halfway point in our (midget AAA) league and we’re in Tier I.”
Jared is the ace with the Braves, but also plays the outfield.
“Pitching is my strong suit and that’s what I’ll do as I go forward, but I enjoy getting to bat a little as well … makes it fun,” he said.
Jared will take criminal justice at Minot State, but would like nothing more than to see his baseball career continue at the pro ranks.
“I’d like to take it as far as it goes,” he said. “With the number of Canadians being drafted now, it’s something that’s in the back of my mind, but we’ll have to see.”
As for next summer Jared could play with the Riggers, or possibly with the Medicine Hat Mavericks of the Western Canadian Baseball League.
“I’ve been offered a chance to play with the Riggers, which would be good, or with Medicine Hat. I’d have to go down (to Medicine Hat) and tryout, so I could have a couple of options.”
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate sports reporter and Alberta Sports Hall of Fame member who can be eached at firstname.lastname@example.org