2015 Draft: James Kaprielian

5/19 to 5/20 Series Preview: Washington Nationals
Update: Tanaka to make first AAA rehab start Thursday

James Kaprielian | RHP

Miscellany
Kaprielian, 21, was a second or third round talent out of high school in 2012, but he was very strongly committed to UCLA. The Mariners rolled the dice in the 40th round but couldn’t sign him. Kaprielian spent his freshman season in the bullpen (1.55 ERA in 40.2 innings) before moving into the rotation as a sophomore and taking over as the staff ace. He had a 2.29 ERA with a 108/35 K/BB in 106 innings last year and has a 1.94 ERA with a 105/27 K/BB in 92.2 innings so far this year.

Scouting Report
Listed at 6-foot-4 and 200 lbs., Kaprielian was a classic projectable high school pitcher, and he’s developed into basically the opposite of what was expected. Instead of filling out and adding velocity, he’s become a much more well-rounded pitcher with the Bruins, one who throws four pitches for strikes. His fastball sits mostly 89-92 mph and he will show some 94s on occasion. Kaprielian’s best secondary pitch depends on the day – some days it’s his changeup, some days it’s his slider, and other it’s his curveball. The changeup is his most consistent offspeed pitch and he’ll throw it in any count, to both lefties and righties. Kaprielian has a great feel for setting hitters up and his command is better than solid thanks to his ultra-repeatable delivery. He’s as close to a finish product as you’ll find in this draft.

Miscellany
Baseball America, Keith Law (subs. req’d), and MLB.com ranked Kaprielian as the 19th, 27th, and 28th best prospect in the draft class in their latest rankings, respectively. For what it’s worth, Kaprielian has been connected to the Yankees in Baseball America’s first two mock drafts, which makes sense since he’s a Southern California pitcher and scouting director Damon Oppenheimer loves SoCal pitchers. Kaprielian doesn’t offer a ton of upside but he should climb up the minor league ladder in a hurry, and is a safe bet to carve out a career as a workhorse starter, pending good health. The Yankees pick 16th and 30th this year and I don’t think Kaprielian will last long enough to take him with that 30th pick. It’s 16th or bust.

5/19 to 5/20 Series Preview: Washington Nationals
Update: Tanaka to make first AAA rehab start Thursday
  • ÅndyInSunnyDB

    Adam Warren 2.0 (or David Phelps 2.0) at 10 times the initial price

    • W.B. Mason Williams

      yeah, but both those guys ended up as better pitchers than Andrew Brackman.

      • ÅndyInSunnyDB

        That is true, they were solid picks taken in the 4th and 13th rounds

        • W.B. Mason Williams

          I do agree with you though, upside is an important factor, and I think there may be better picks. maybe i’d use the second 1st rounder on him. go for the upside with 16

          • ÅndyInSunnyDB

            It would be great if they take Kaprielian. Upside is not the Yankees expertise.

            • Fawn Lopez

              Upside is no one’s expertise. They are all guessing.

    • Leftballer

      That’s exactly who this guy reminds me of.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Really? I always respect your thoughts on young players, but I read this a lot more as “mid-rotation” than “swingman.”

      • ÅndyInSunnyDB

        Maybe. I’m probably wrong. I just see him as a boring, boring pick.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Potentially, sure, but I’d also love the idea of someone throwing 200 innings at the MLB level, anchoring the middle, before the age of 25. His delivery also makes me feel pretty well about his injury prognosis.

          Not saying he’s absolutely my ideal pick, but I wouldn’t be upset if he landed under the tree at #16.

          • ÅndyInSunnyDB

            Yeah, i get it. I guess something needs to change in the way the Yankees do things. This is going to be such an important draft for them. They can’t sign any significant J2 prospects for 2 years, they’ve decide that Cubans are too expensive and they more than likely won’t have a 1st round pick next year because of a FA signing.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              You could also say that the pretty-good-case scenario I just described above could be part of that.

              I also will be very curious where the chips begin to fall with the recent IFA haul.

        • Beauee

          Boring isn’t bad. Mike Leake was considered a boring pick, but we could use a guy like that with all our pitching injuries. Also, we have a ton of high upside youngsters. We don’t have a lot of sure things. I think it’s good to go with the high floor safety pick at 16. Also, I think Kap could be pretty solid going forward. A good number three if it all works out right. That’s nothing to sneeze at (especially in a weaker draft class like this one).

        • Fawn Lopez

          Well, not everyone can throw 99mph and blow their elbow out. Sometimes you needs guys who actually have long careers in baseball.

  • ÅndyInSunnyDB

    Adam Warren 2.0 (or David Phelps 2.0) at 10 times the initial price

  • BD11

    Should Yanks be going for high upside boom or bust staff ace or all star position player?

    Or try to go for safer picks – a guy who is more likely to be a #4?

    When I hear “he doesn’t offer much upside but….” I think it’s not worth taking that player in the 1st. Just my opinion. Go for broke and find a guy who can be a star even if the risk is higher.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      A guy who could quickly become a solid 3-4 workhorse in the majors is no small potatoes. Look at how much trouble we’re having anything past the third slot at the moment.

    • hogsmog

      I feel like the Yankees have enough money to consistently fill out a roster if they want to, but they might not find stars through free agency even if they’re willing to spend a lot. Go for the high upside.

      If they run into a few cost-controlled stars, they’ll be able to sign those mid-rotation workhorses to push the team over the top. I feel like that’s a much easier task than trying to pump a team of ‘solid’ but unremarkable players up by signing inflated contracts for proven stars, who may not be on the market when the Yankees need them to be.

      • Beauee

        Normally I would agree, but it’s just not very likely that you are going to nab a future start with the 16th pick. There is so much risk when you draft high upside prep pitchers (in the mid first round). Having a 3 WAR pitcher (which I think Kap projects to be; a mark buerhle innings eater) would be really solid.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          If he turns into Mark Buerhle for this franchise, I will happily lick myself.

          • Beauee

            So will I. I’ll lick you too…errr…wait…

        • hogsmog

          Well I mean, it’s not very likely you’re going to nab a future starter with any pick. It feels silly to hedge one’s bets in a situation where even the ‘good bets’ are super risky.

          Like, a 3 war pitcher would be fantastic, and I would spend a first pick on that every single draft until the end of time if you could guarantee it, or even give me straight 50/50 odds. But I don’t actually think those projection systems are consistent enough to think of any pick like that.

          • Beauee

            No, nothing is a slam dunk. That’s for sure. But Kap is generally seen as the safest pitcher of this draft. There is always risk. That is true, but I believe one should mitigate that risk as much as possible when picking in the mid first round. But to each their own. There are lots of viable draft strategies. However, I prefer the mitigation of risk when it comes to mid round picks.

        • BD11

          Buerhle was a top of the rotation guy though. But if you can get a 3 WAR pitcher with low risk (very high floor) then sure. Agreed.

    • Dalek Jeter

      They’ve done that before with guys like Brackman and Betances…and came up short. I’m much more comfortable going with a polished guy with a high floor if it means he has a slightly lower ceiling.

      • BD11

        Definitely yes to Brackman. Betances wasn’t a top draft choice (8th rd though 1st rd talent) and he’s arguably not coming up short (though your point is noted.) I think it’s on to go 1 for 3 on Brackmans if you think tehy can be a #1 than to go 2 for 3 on an Adam Warren or similar (or avg #3-4.) obviously it’s not that simple.

      • Leftballer

        Phil Hughes was a prep pick guy drafted early by the Yankees that worked out.

        (Flags fly forever).

    • Centaur Hips

      I really am a fan of the Cubs strategy. Load up on position players. Less risky and you can always trade them for pitching if you need to. As for upside/floor a mix of both types wouldn’t hurt.

      • BD11

        Yeah – the Cubs needed some top picks to land guys like Kris Bryant but good point. Cubs loaded up and then bought low for Arrieta, signed an ace in Lester to be the staff leader…. it’s not a bad formula.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    “Kaprielian has a great feel for setting hitters up and his command is better than solid thanks to his ultra-repeatable delivery.”

    That’s it. I’m in love.

  • Pkyankfan69

    Not gonna act like I know much about any of these guys but from reading this I think I’d rather have a guy with higher upside than this guy with the 16th pick

    • Fawn Lopez

      Those guys usually don’t pan out.

  • craig

    In a perfect world, I would love Aiken at 16 and Kaprielian at 30th. That would give us the hi-upside guy balanced with the hi-floor guy.

    • Beauee

      There will be a bunch of injured high upside guys for our 30th pick. Allard and Matuella will probably make it there. So will Kirby. It might even be the case that Aiken makes it there (some teams feel that his injury is far more serious than your run of the miller torn ligament).

      • Dalek Jeter

        If Aiken is there at 30 and the Yankees have taken a guy like Kaprielian at 16 I’d totally be okay with taking a shot at him.

    • Dalek Jeter

      I don’t think there is any way Kaprielian is there at 30, he’s a polished college arm who is probably only like 3 or so years away from contributing meaningfully to a big league team. If he’s available at 16 I think the Yankees have to take him, Aiken or no Aiken.

  • Leftballer
  • http://www.twitter.com/Ray_Zayas ComeOnYouBronxBombers

    Seems like a player the Yankees should target but wont due to “upside”. We need low cost, controlled arms to off-set the huge contracts the Yanks take on. Especially when we get Bryce Harper.

    I’m just kidding! (Maybe not) :D

    • RetroRob

      I think he is the type of player the Yankees will target. Perhaps he’s the pitching version of Jagielo, who the Yankees took with their first pick a couple years back. He was considered a polished college bat with a high probability of making the majors. If so, let’s hope they can find an Aaron Judge or Ian Clarkin when the #30 selection comes around.

      • http://www.twitter.com/Ray_Zayas ComeOnYouBronxBombers

        I hope you’re right, I’d be ecstatic if the Yankees develop a workhorse type starter.

  • Deep Thoughts

    I can’t wait until he is dealing in Scranton-Wilkes Barre, blocked by a pricy aging free-agent 5th starter, with Lindgren closing his wins.

    • RetroRob

      …and Refsnyder winning his third straight batting title at second.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        PCL. Yes.

    • Leftballer

      Patterson will surely challenge him and move him up the ladder quickly.

      He’d start in Pulaski for a few starts and probably finish the year in High A or AA (if Trenton makes the playoffs.)

    • Robinson Tilapia

      With his new pitching coach, Mark Montgomery, looking on.

    • Deep Thoughts

      Let’s say, in 2019, 40-year-old Mark Buerhle, 1/7MM.

      • Dalek Jeter

        There is no way Mark Beurhle is only 36? I swear he has to be at least 38 or 39.

        • Deep Thoughts

          First among all active players in Career Innings Pitched with 3131.2

        • RetroRob

          He came up when he was only 21. If Buehrle goes on to a have a Jamie Moyer type of career he’ll probably win 300+ games and make the HOF, not that I would view him as a HOFer even if he did win 300. A better pitcher than most think, but there are signs of decline, and it’s possible he’s even cooked right now. I think his rotation mate Dickey probably is.

          • Dalek Jeter

            96 wins shy at 36 with an ERA and FIP both over 5…I think CC’s got a better shot at 300 than Buehrle.

            • RetroRob

              I don’t think either of them have a shot at it, although there was a time when CC was still at peak that I thought he had an outside chance figuring his fade years as a crafty lefty could get him there. Yet I thought the fade years would occur starting around 35, not at 32, and didn’t count on it being such an abrupt transition from good to bad. It was like going from blistering August summer to freezing December winter. What happened to fall?

              On top of that, his attempts at being the crafty lefty have been spotty, to be kind, although in his defense 2013 was the first year where he sucked, and he was for obvious reasons still trying to pitch as he always did. Last year, 2014, he was injured and a washout. That means that this season is the first where he’s come to camp both healthy and with the mindset that he needs to change how he pitches. He’ll never be peak CC again, but as Yankee fans we need to hope he can adequately fill one of the five rotation spots since he’s not going away until the end of 2017.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Which will mark the first time Mark Buerhle actually consistently beats the Yankees.

        • Deep Thoughts
        • Dalek Jeter

          Now I can’t get the title: “Yank’s Rough Up Newly Acquired Buehrle in Intrasquad Game” from that inevitable spring training out of my head.

    • vicki

      blocked? he’ll be traded for that aging fifth starter. why buy free-agents for just money when you can trade the farm for the last years of bad, backloaded contracts. isn’t that the cashman way?

  • BillyBall

    I know we need pitching but pleaseeeeee let Garret Whitley drop to the Yankees! NY HS kid with intriguing talent.

  • Beauee

    By the 16th pick, the safe high upside players are off the board. Therefore, we are left with higher risk, higher reward players. I would take the guy with a higher floor at that point. I would rather get something over nothing. I feel that this is especially the case with pitchers. Grab the guy who is a college workhorse rather than the high upside prep pitcher. Also, college guys are the way to go considering we are not in full rebuild mode.

  • Leftballer

    Nikorak or Kaprielian … I’m choosing Nikorak

    But if it’s Whitley or Kaprielian I’m leaning Kaprielian.

    • Beauee

      Nikorak has great potential, but I’m not crazy about drafting prep guys in the first round when not in full rebuild mode. We need MLB ready help sooner rather than later. Kap lines up with the 2017 window that will be open for us (when the bad contracts get off the books).

      • Leftballer

        I don’t agree man , if he is what many perceive to be the top RHP prep guy out of this year’s draft then I honestly don’t see how you could pass him up.

        The Yankees have 4 relatively high picks in the first 93 picks , plus they tend to do good enough with low ceiling college guys anyway (Phelps/Warren/Karstens/Etc etc etc) & now seem to be doing better with College reliever turned starters now as well.

        • Beauee

          Well, Nikorak probably gets taken before our pick anyway. I like Nikorak. I like him a lot. He’s got great stuff, and a smooth delivery. He’s also 6-5. I wouldn’t be upset if they took him at 16. I just prefer going with the college arm because I think we should “draft now” at this point. There will be a lot of higher upside pitchers available in the comp picks. Guys like Matuella and Allard (although I’d like to see them go with Kingery; I think he a solid pick, who is simply disregarded due to his size). Speaking of Boston: they do have some high upside guys, but I think they would kill for a good mid rotation starter right about now.

          • Leftballer

            I think Nikorak if gets selected probably in the 9-15 range ,
            Then you absolutely go with a college arm.

            I was only making my case due to the circumstance that (possibly) could happen if BOTH Nikorak & a High- Floor low ceiling college arm was available.

            • Beauee

              Right. It’s a viable strategy: going Nikorak over Kap. I just tend to be a bit more conservative in my investment strategies. I don’t like the high risk ha. But I would certainly be pleased if they did get Nikorak.

    • renzostew

      Kaprielian does not have the stuff for a first rounder if he is there at 16 I hope the yankees bypass and take a hitter.

  • Gary Lawrence

    Anyone see Kyle Funkhouser dropping to #16 pick?
    Baseball America mocked him going to pick #15 in their latest mock?

    • Beauee

      It’s possible, but apparently he hasn’t been very good lately. His big issue is the command.

      • vicki

        70 name tool, though.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          On a Graham Stoneburner scale?

          • vicki

            they can’t all be yeicok calderon.

            • MTU

              Or Exicardo Cayones.

              • pat

                Anyone thirsty for a little Renzo Martini?

                • Robinson Tilapia

                  Renzo Martini absolutely flew under the radar. 80 on the “should be an indie pro wrestler” name scale.

          • MTU

            No. The Caleb Cotham scale.

  • Gary Lawrence

    Blake Hickman RHP Iowa anyone like as a pick for the yankees at pick #57 ?

    • Leftballer

      Unless he can develop a 3rd average pitch in the next … 2 to 3 weeks I’d pass.

      I’d rather look at Marcus Brakeman (Stanford) at 57 if anything.

  • Gary Lawrence

    Still like Demi Orimoloye OF Ontario, Canada being a good pick for the yankees if it happens, which has potential to turn into great pick!
    Can anyone research where he is projected to get picked?

    • Beauee

      Second round pick I believe.

    • ÅndyInSunnyDB

      My bet is that he goes to Toronto at #56

    • renzostew

      B.A. has Orimoloye ranked 41st player out of Canada.The Yankee 57 pick is more like it.

  • Gary Lawrence

    No way you take Aiken or Matuella with your draft at all!!
    Have we not learned from Andrew Brackman. How the hell can you take either with your top two picks!
    Take a guy with high upside who has potential to be great and no recent or serious injuries.
    Like Demi Orimoloye.
    Love to see an outfield with him and Aaron Judge in a few years.
    Hell Yeah!
    Power hitters who can field their position with great arms like I said about these two before.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Have we not learned from citing Andrew Brackman as a comparison point with any young pitcher recovering from TJS, you mean?

    • Leftballer

      He’s gonna be a tough sign since he’s a Oregon commit.

    • BillyBall

      Dude, no offense but you keep bringing up the same guy Demi and everyone keeps replying he is not even a first round pick!

  • Franchise

    I’d be fine with him at 16. I’d also like Bickford or Everett in consideration at 16. Other than Everett, I’d say a college arm at 16 would be great, then maybe a higher upside guy at 30 like a Ashe Russell.

  • josh0909

    Sounds like Joe Blanton. Pass.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      What does Joe Blanton sound like?

    • Leftballer

      Blanton has a better breaking pitch than this guy.

  • Leftballer

    Last time we drafted this high or close to it with a pitcher we selected this guy.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/k/kenneia01.shtml

    I would say he’s been fantastically average but reliable going into his 9TH season in the big leagues.

  • MTU

    Safe bet w the first pick. Higher gamble on the 2nd.
    ;)

  • MTU

    It’s a left-handed World.
    Power lefty would be real nice.

    • Leftballer

      Tyler Jay perhaps? But no one sees him falling out of the top 10

    • David Masino

      I guess this lefty missed the memo, re: LHW
      But yeah, to the 2nd line…
      ..

  • Centaur Hips

    “More important, some clubs’ behavior is changing. Conte now tells his scouts to pay attention to, and be wary of, the number of showcases the pitchers have gone to; his medical staff scours news reports looking for hidden injury risks. And the Yankees, burned by a run of injuries to top draft picks, hired a medical coordinator last year to help prepare for the draft full time, year-round. The coordinator, who is in the draft room when the club makes its picks, charts a variety of variables — how much a pitcher has pitched, how hard he throws and how clean his biomechanics are — with green, yellow or red flags. He says his assessments will get more specific as biomechanical analysis gets easier and more exact, and if the Yankees succeed in getting honest tallies of amateur pitchers’ innings. But the message is clear: A high school pitcher who protects his arm will have at least one team willing to pay extra for him. Scott Lovekamp, a minor league pitching analyst for the Yankees, estimated that the difference in worth between a red and a green flag for a high draft pick would be as much as $1 million.”

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/12842678/why-tommy-john-surgeries-cease-soon

    Thought that was interesting. Good article.

  • Austinmac

    From looking at the picture and video, I wonder if some could see his grip as the ball is behind his back.

  • Robert Lucarelli

    I like going safe and conservative with low ceiling high floor picks. Chances are the yankees drafted 3 major league contributers yesterday but zero superstars. That’s fine. The yanks can always sign a big name when need be if need be.