With their first pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, the Yankees have selected right-handed pitcher James Kaprielian out of UCLA 16th overall. The 6'4", 200-pound junior pitched in relief for the Bruins back in 2013 during their national championship run as a freshman before going on to become UCLA's ace. Kaprielian has shown improved velocity with a fastball that can hit 95 mph and sits between 89-92 mph. Jim Callis profiled Kaprielian as a #3 starter and thinks he has a chance to make it to the Bronx fairly quickly. He was compared to Michael Wacha, but that is to be taken with a very obvious grain of salt.
Kaprielian sports an above-average curveball that he uses as his out pitch with an average changeup. He has been good at putting batters away when ahead in the count, and has experimented a bit with a slider as a fourth pitch. He was ranked 19th in the country coming into the draft. Baseball America had him going to the Yankees in each of their first three mock drafts, so clearly the pick doesn't come as much of a surprise. The team likely sees a player who, like Jacob Lindgren last year, has the ability to rise quickly through their minor league system. If Kaprielian can indeed be the first pitcher in his draft class to crack the major leagues they'll probably consider that to be a success, even if he doesn't profile as a future ace.
The newest Yankee has had to overcome a bit of adversity already, losing his mother to breast cancer last June while competing for the USA Collegiate Team. She encouraged him to keep his commitment to the team shortly before losing her battle, and Kaprielian went on to dominate in the contest.
How do you feel about the Yankees' first selection of the draft?