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Rockland Boulders Shortstop Junior Arrojo Has Become One Of Teams’ Leaders

Junior Arroyo (Photo by Double G Media)

Junior Arroyo (Photo by Double G Media)


Rockland Boulders shortstop Junior Arrojo is enjoying a breakout season leading the Can-Am League with a .341 batting average, tied in stolen bases with 30, coming within one game of tying teammate Jared McDonald’s on-base streak of  75 straight games, earning Pointstreak Player of the Week. He is also the franchise leader with five walk-off hits and was named to the American-Association All-Star Game along with teammate Marcus Nidiffer and Manager Jamie Keefe on August 2 at CHS Field in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Last season, Arrojo played a pivotal role in the Boulders franchise-record 63-34 season, compiling a .315 batting average, stealing 43 bases and breaking a Can-Am League record by getting hit by a pitch 36 times.

“I take pride in getting on base and know my role to get on base for other’s and used to it,” said Junior Arrojo. “A lot of guys from the championship team and new pieces fit in. By far one of the most enjoyable teams I have been on and a lot of success for many players. We came up short but ran into a hot team but that’s baseball and blessed to be a part of it.”

That is in stark contrast to two years ago when Arrojo was battling labrum and hip injuries during the first Boulders pennant and championship season. “It was definitely a fun year but not for me personally because I was hurt and in and out of the lineup,” he said. “The team was such a family and made it easier to stick around and battle through it.”

Arrojo credits manager Jamie Keefe for having faith in him back in 2014. “I was battling injuries and my brother Gustavo was in the hospital in Miami, I told Jamie I was quitting probably three times.”

Arrojo flew down to Miami to be with his brother during the surgeries. “I kept expecting Jamie to release me and he never did and told me to be with my brother and get my butt back up here. It meant the world to me to be there for my brother when he was in the hospital when my head wasn’t into baseball. A great manager and many people don’t know how he manages a team. He definitely makes the least amount of changes every year and believes in family and having a close group.”

For the past three years, Arrojo has stayed with a host family during the baseball season, Debbie and Rich VanderClute. “They are absolutely amazing people that made the transition from living in Miami to coming up here so much easier and they are family as well being there for me especially when I was injured and dealing with my brother’s surgery. If it wasn’t for them I would not be playing here in Rockland and number one reason I keep coming back.” Arrojo’s girlfriend Taylor has also been a main source of support.

Before every bat Arrojo pays tribute to his brother Gustavo, “I started writing SCF, swag, confidence and faith and now I write that now with Gustavo’s name over it with a cross and keep doing it.”

The number two reason Arrojo says why he keeps coming back to play for the team is the fans at Palisades Credit Union Park. “They do such a great job supporting me and the team. We try to win for them and I put everything out on the field for them.” For the fans who come out every day to watch the team, Arrojo had this message for them, “I appreciate and thank them and we love playing at home.”

Hailing from Miami, Florida, Arrojo attended and played high school baseball at Miami Southridge. “Head Coach Fred Burnside is a great coach and mentor. He had confidence in me and determination.” The next stop for Arrojo was Florida International University. “It was 20 minutes away from my house and a blessing because my family could watch me play and I’m very close to my sister Sara. I grew and learned about what I could do and gained confidence in my abilities.”

On playing shortstop his entire career, “Definitely a fun position and out there I feel like I’m the leader of the team. Whether playing shortstop, catcher or center field you have to be strong up the middle.”

Jared McDonald and Arrojo have formed a formidable one-two punch at the top of the lineup. McDonald broke the minor-league record back in May, reaching base safely for a 75th consecutive game. “He means everything to this team and comes out with a routine that is very professional, an honor and blessing to hit behind him. He is probably the best all-around hitter I have played with and to see what he does day in and out is truly remarkable and see it every day on and off the field and in the locker room. It’s truly remarkable when I hear the number and record and how he handled with such grace and being humble about it.”

On teammate Marcus Nidiffer who leads Rockland in home runs with 11 this year, including setting a team record by hitting 10 homers or more three consecutive seasons in a row and second on the team in RBI”s with 40, “He’s the captain and the statistics speak for themselves. Our cleanup hitter and drives in runs and hits homers. A leader on and off the field and honestly the best man I have met.”

This season has been particularly special for Arrojo with the Boulders playing the Cuban National Team and games televised on ESPN. “My family came up here to see me play and it was also my Mom’s birthday. Anytime you can be on national television is good for the organization and players. I’m of Cuban descent and blessed to be a part of it. I watched “El Duque” Orlando Hernandez growing up and pitching. I took a picture with him and definitely my Dad would appreciate it.”

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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