James Kaprielian A Key to Both Short and Long Term Success for Yankees

Spring training has finally begun for the Yankees. The biggest news from camp so far may be the potential suspension for Aroldis Chapman which may include a spring training ban (really?), but in more up lifting news, we are also hearing that last year's top draft pick, James Kaprielian, is turning heads. If you don't know who that is, or how to spell his name, you might want to figure those things out soon.

The Yankees drafted Kaprielian with the same intention as they picked Jacob Lindgren: to get an impact in the majors quickly. And apparently that's a real possibility. Hal Steinbrenner has openly stated he hopes the young starter could reach the major league squad by the end of the year and neither Brian Cashman nor Larry Rothschild have ruled it out either.
Photo Via YanksGoYard
Kaprielian fits the bill of the Yankees' recent interest in imposing figures on the mound coming in at 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds. Head of scouting Damon Oppenhemier calls the 21 year old "a strike-thrower with a great make up" and that's something the Yankees could use on their big league squad. Kaprielian earned the Yankee first round selection by turning in a stellar year for UCLA going 10-4 with a 2.03 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 106.2 innings.

Word is that he also had success in his first taste of professional ball in short season Staten Island by bumping his fastball velocity up to the 96-97 mph range while backing it up with a slider, curveball, and changeup that have all been rated at least average.

While we have barely heard about him until now, Kaprielian really excites me. The fact that a draft pick could have an impact at the big league level the next year is pure gold and while some project him to be a 3rd or 4th starter long term, there are some that would say he's got 2nd starter potential.
Photo Via Pinstriped Prospects
This is insurance the Yankees direly need with almost every starter on the 25-man coming with a question mark. Tanaka, Sabathia, and Pineda have been routine injury victims the last few years and there has to be some concern that could continue. There are times that I'm not convinced Nathan Eovaldi is any better than a pitching machine on the mound. And Luis Severino was electric after his call up last year, but Ivan Nova was also lights out early in his career before taking steps back in recent years.

Now I'm not suggesting all those question marks will be answered with the worst case scenario, but the Yankees need to have a plan B, especially considering the fact they stayed completely out of a pretty decent free agent starter market, and Kaprielian seems to be a solid back up plan.

If Kaprielian can continue to bring the heat on his fastball and maintain his strike throwing ability, the sky is truly the limit if he can develop his off speed pitches more and more. The icing on the cake is that he's only 21 years old and it would be huge for the Yankees to have such a young player be productive. The Yankees seem to seriously be cutting back payroll in an effort to either get under the luxury tax threshold or save for the legendary 2018 free agent class and if Kaprielian develops as projected, he could help them achieve that plan by saving them money in a rotation spot.

In the end the likes of Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez may snag most of the New York Yankee prospect headlines, but don't sleep on Kaprielian. The young righty possesses some immense potential and has the advantage of flying under the radar until a call up this year. I have to believe that with his arsenal and strike throwing ability that he long term will be closer to the 2-Starter projection than a 3 or a 4. Time will tell, but it is certain that the Yankees have some youth to look forward to.

Article by: Nick Scott
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