Kylin Turnbull's season got off to a rough start.
The 6-5 left-hander went 0-3 with a 14.81 ERA in his first three starts with Potomac Nationals (Advanced-A), and was reassigned to the Hagerstown Suns (Class A). After going 2-2 with a 5.32 ERA in five more starts, he was sent to extended spring training in Florida.
"I had three rough starts in Potomac," Turnbull said. "I just wasn't locating pitches very well. I went to Hagerstown, same thing. (It was) mechanical issues, so I was working on that in Florida for a little bit. I got that hammered down, so now I'm back in the swing of things."
After making some small adjustments, Turnbull is hoping he has turned his second professional season around. On opening day with the Auburn Doubledays in the New York-Penn League (Short Season-A), the 23-year-old tossed five scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out three. He threw 53 pitches, and didn't let any of the 16 batters he faced get to a full count.
"I felt great, it's obviously a great opportunity to get the opening-day start," said Turnbull, a fourth-round selection by the Washington Nationals in 2011. "I pounded the zone and I stayed ahead of the hitters, kept them off balance, and got my ground balls when I needed to."
Doubledays pitching coach Sam Narron, who was at extended spring training, was impressed with what he saw in Turnbull.
"He made some very good adjustments, and took to what we were trying to do to him," Narron said. "He took what we were telling him and ran with it." Narron believes Turnbull's struggles are just as much mental as they are physical, and his time with the Doubeldays could provide a boost of confidence.
"At least early, he's helped pick himself back up," Narron said. "We had a good side session the other day, and we're trying to build on what he did opening night." Narron knows what he can get out of Turnbull, and hopes to see it on a consistent basis. Turnbull takes the mound again for the Doubledays Saturday evening against the State College Spikes.
"I've seen him when he's been very good," Narron said. "So we know that the ability is there. Just sometimes in this game, you get knocked down. You've got to be able to pick yourself back up and move on."