James Kaprielian

Position: RHSP
Level: AFL
Affiliate: Scottsdale Scorpions
League: Arizona Fall League
Born: 03/02/1994 (Age: 25)
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 200
B/T: Right / Right
Acquired: 1st Rd., (#18 overall), 2015 MLB First-Year Player Draft (NYY); Traded to OAK 7/31/2017

Prospect Spotlight

Kaprielian is an athletic, strong-bodied righty with slightly rolled shoulders and a very strong lower half.  He has power stuff and looks to have at least two plus pitches between his fastball and slider, and on Wednesday night showed the makings of an average changeup as well.  He is 94-to-97 mph with the fastball and has some heavy sink middle to arm side with ride up in the zone.  He gets good angle, and does a good job working to both sides of the plate.  He has some feel to add and subtract with the slider – backing off a bit at 84-to-86 mph range early in the count and dialing up ¾ break with late bite at 88-to-91 mph for put-away.  The changeup is 86-to-88 mph with some gradual circle fade that plays up slightly due to the effort and the arm speed.

In his short pro career he has done a good job pounding down in the zone and letting the late life he gets on his power stuff work for him (3.00 ground-ball rate and 1.6 BB/9 in 29.1 IP). That all said though, he has only reached High A ball due to the elbow issue this past year and his FB command in the zone is not great, so his Fall League innings will be his first real test vs. competition beyond what he saw at UCLA.

I like the idea of working him as a starter, even though there are those that feel he will ultimately end up in the pen.  I worry a bit about how he will react to 180-to-200 innings going forward, considering the effort level in the delivery and how the arm swing wraps a little in back before coming through the slot.  However, he is a good athlete and showed some ability to throttle up and back in my look on 10/12, so I’m willing to bet that he will smooth things out and manage the stress his delivery puts on his body.  I’m less concerned about him being two-pitch heavy, as the sink on the FB is something hitters will struggle to square up and he seems to be able to change the shape on the slider enough to produce a couple different looks.  If the changeup stays at even fringe-average then he will have enough weapons to run through lineups multiple times.  I think the arsenal and potential of the stuff compares to Kevin Brown (RHP, TEX, BAL, SD, MIA, LAD, NYY), who relied mainly on his power sinker and slider.  Brown also had some effort in the delivery early in his career that he was able to eventually dial up and back as he matured.  Brown understood the value of letting hitters pound the ball into the ground and eating innings, something that I can see Kaprielian eventually doing as well.  If this kid can stay healthy, the Yankees could be looking at that type of ceiling with their 2015 first rounder.