Drafted in the first round out of UCLA by the Yankees, James Kaprielian was thought of as a surefire bet to be an MLB starter early in his career.
Although, at this point, he is still far from his MLB debut, but his ceiling is higher than previously imagined and has the potential to be a top of the rotation starter if he stays healthy.
The story of the young career for Kaprielian has been injuries. Including the Arizona Fall League, in 2016, the young phenom was limited to 45 innings due to an early-season flexor strain.
During the regular season in High-A Tampa, Kap was having a breakout season with 22 SO in his first 18 innings of work with only three walks. Then it all came crashing down.
The righty started experiencing pain in his throwing elbow. The Yankees did the right thing and shut him down immediately until further tests could determine the severity of the injury.
He was diagnosed with a right elbow flexor tendon strain. There was an immediate cause for concern as these injuries often lead to Tommy John surgery. In response, the Yankees shut him down for the season.
Luckily, for the time being, Kap was able to avoid the dreaded Tommy John surgery. In addition, after the season concluded, he was able to pitch in the Arizona Fall League.
In the AZFL, the right hander under performed and failed to meet the expectations set for him. Kap posted a 4.33 ERA in 27 IP with 26 SO. His command was also a bit off, as he had an uncharacteristic eight walks.
This rust is to be expected after the young stud missed most of the season. That doesn’t matter though, as reports say that his stuff was looking as sharp as ever, and his fastball was back in the 95-97 mph.
The starter might even experience a breakout season in 2017.
If he can avoid the injury bug, Kap has the potential to be a stalwart in the Yankees rotation for years to come.