The Yankees had high hopes for their 2015 first round draft pick and there was even talk of James Kaprielian making his major league debut as soon as last year until an early season elbow flexor strain.
The 22-year old, who owns a 1.55 ERA in seven career minor league games, avoided surgery, is back, healthy, and currently pitching in the Arizona Fall League. Through three starts (9.1 innings), Kaprielian has struck out 12 and has yet to allow a home run while his fastball has been sitting in the 95-97 mile an hour range.
He controls and commands his stock of pitches extremely well thanks to the slight sink his fastball packs and he should advance quickly as a pro to the extent of possibly having an outside shot at earning a spot in 2017’s rotation.
There are a few things to look out for this upcoming season. First and foremost, can he make it through the AFL and Spring Training healthy? If so, you have to keep a close eye on if he comes with the same effectiveness he had before going down.
If both work out in the Yankees’ favor, there is no doubt Kaprielian can have a Chris Sale-like path to the Bronx. Sale pitched in a mere 12 games in the minors and was called up in the same year in which he was drafted.
Kaprielian, unlike many minor league pitchers, contains an MLB approach. He pitches rather than throws. Yes, there’s a distinction.
Of course, an injury crippled those chances, but thanks to the lack of depth and surplus of question marks behind Masahiro Tanaka, don’t be surprised to see the most major league ready hurler on the farm to make his debut in 2017.