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2016 Yankees Roster Report Card: James Kaprielian

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The Yankees’ 2015 first-round pick spent most of the season on the disabled list, but pitched very well when healthy.

New York Yankees Photo Day Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Grade: A*

2016 Statistics: 3 G, 1.50 ERA, 2.03 FIP, 11.00 K/9, 1.50 BB/9, 18 IP

2016 Level/Roster Status: High-A/Non-40

The Yankees selected James Kaprielian 16th overall in the first round of the 2015 MLB Draft straight out of UCLA. He briefly joined the Staten Island Yankees and Gulf Coast Yankees towards the end of the 2015 season. During that time he recorded 14 strikeouts over 11 and one-third innings, gave up five runs, and walked four batters.

Kaprielian received a non-roster invite to spring training, though he obviously didn’t have a real shot at making the team. He was sent down pretty early, but he received some high praise, and some people even thought he could even join the Yankees at some point during the season. Kaprielian started his minor league season in Tampa, and pitched extremely well. Through 18 innings, he surrendered just three runs, held opponents to a .136 batting average, and recorded 22 strikeouts. According to Erik Boland, Kaprielian was “consistently” hitting 99 MPH with his fastball, too.

Sadly, after just three starts, Kaprielian was put on the disabled list with elbow inflammation. After being shut down down completely for a few months, he was eventually diagnosed with a flexor tendon strain in his right elbow. The injury kept him out of action for the remainder of the season. As the Yankees’ season came to a close, there was some thought that Kaprielian could be ready to pitch by the time the Arizona Fall League started. Then he was added to the AFL roster, removed from the roster, and re-added all in the span of a few days. At the time it seemed very dramatic and everyone was worried that he had some kind of setback since the Yankees are notorious for keeping minor league injuries a mystery.

The good news is that he ultimately stayed on the roster, and he finally made his first pitching appearance since April. On Wednesday night, Kaprielian made his AFL debut and gave up just one hit through three innings of work. He notched six strikeouts, and the radar gun reportedly clocked him as high as 97 MPH, so it was an all-around encouraging outing. As of Sunday, he hadn’t pitched again, but the AFL stretches through October and into the middle of November. Provided that he stays healthy, we should hear many more updates on Kaprielian over the next few weeks.

In an ideal scenario, Kaprielian would have been ready to join the Yankees’ rotation when the 2017 season started, but things are not going to work out that way. He will likely receive a non-roster invite to spring training once again. Kaprielian will probably start the season back in Tampa since that was where he started last year. If everything goes according to plan, he could end up joining the Yankees at some point next season.

*I decided it didn’t seem fair to mark down his grade just because he was injured.