On Tuesday the Oakland A’s called up RHP James Kaprielian. This past offseason he was ranked as Oakland’s 10th best prospect. He just turned 26 this past March which means there’s still a decent chance he can carve out a long career despite the fact that he had Tommy John Surgery and couple of setbacks that cost him two seasons of development. His journey didn’t begin with Oakland though. It started with the Yankees.
Taken number 16 overall, Kaprielian was the Yankee’s highest draft pick in the first round since they took Carl Henry (SS) out of Putnam City High School in 2005. Kaprielian attended UCLA where he pitched for three seasons including pitching in a combined no-hitter during his junior year. The scouting report on him coming into the 2015 draft was that he is the most major league ready of all the pitchers in the draft. Scouts also said he didn’t throw particularly hard but he had a consistent delivery that allowed him to have great command. It was a fairly exciting first round selection for the Yankees to say the least. Then came the injury.
Tommy John Strikes
After spending two years in the minors, Kaprielian looked to be an option heading into the 2017 season. However, an arm injury would throw a wrench into those plans and on April 13th, 2017 it was revealed he would need to have surgery to repair his ulnar collateral ligament. The dreaded TJS. It seemed that his ascension to pinstripes would be delayed or so he thought.
The Sonny Gray Trade
Fast forward to the 2017 trade deadline and the Yankees had an opportunity to acquire an “Ace”. Right at the deadline, the Yankees swung a deal that sent Kaprielian along with top prospects Jorge Mateo and Dustin Fowler to the Oakland Athletics for Sonny Gray. We all know how that trade ended up working out for the Yankees.
What’s the scouting report on him now?
Since the trade, Kaprielian has been working his way back to top prospect status within the Oakland organization ranking behind names such as Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk. The current scouting report on Kaprielian is quite similar to the one he got coming out of UCLA. He sits between 92 and 96 MPH with his four seam fastball that show natural run and sinking action. It also generates an above-average number of swings and misses as well being prone to creating fly balls when it is put in play. His changeup was rated as above average as a minor leaguer however he has thrown his slider more and that is his swing and miss off-speed pitch. He also mixes in a curveball as a show-me pitch. His calling card is still his command and consistency but with his injury history, the only difference between 2020 Kaprielian and 2015 Kaprielian is the risk factor and experience.
With him making his debut, I’m pulling for Kap. Before the Yankees went on their run in 2017, Kaprielian potentially making the rotation was one of the storylines I was following closely. He may not be debuting with the Yankees but I hope we can wish him all the best in Oakland. Except for if we see the Athletics in the playoffs. Then all bets are off.