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Naehring: If James Kaprielian healthy last year, would be in MLB

James Kaprielian has battled injuries recently, but it has not stopped Yankees VP of baseball operations Tim Naehring and Mets first base coach Tom Goodwin to rave about the prospect.

In a deep farm system, Kaprielian has asserted himself as a fireball pitcher who can nearly touch triple digits while commanding offspeed pitches. In the Arizona Fall League, he touched 97 MPH, which is right where he was at before the injury to his flexor tendon. This furthers the notion the right-hander could have been Major League ready sooner than many thought.

Naehring said the 2015 first round pick would have been in the majors if he was not injured.

Kaprielian showed command of his pitches, especially the electric fastball, during the AFL on the road to recovery. It has many around baseball excited to see what he can deliver, including Goodwin of the Mets. Drawing high praise and comparisons of current MLB’ers, the 22-year-old is paving his way to the majors.

“I’d say he’s more like Jacob deGrom with a fastball and slider and changeup,” Goodwin said via nj.com. “You hate to put names on the guy, but Kaprielian’s got that kind of electric life.”

While that is a tall comparison (literally and figuratively) and the pitcher feels like he is on the right track with his progress, Kaprielian still feels like there is room for improvements.

“Yeah, I feel good,” the UCLA product said via nj.com. “I’m happy with where I’m at right now. I want to continue to get better, though. I think that’s the biggest thing. It’s something that I’ve taken from a lot of older guys and veterans. These guys continually try to get better, and that’s why they’re at the top of their game. I want to build off of this outing.”

Building off what could have been a special 2016 is progress Yankees execs and fans would love nothing more than to see. Before the injury, Kaprielian started three games and tossed 18 innings. Owning an ERA of 1.50 and a 2-1 record, the prospect was on his way to moving through the minors swiftly.

The 2017 season has already been tabbed as the youth year in New York with many names on the bulletin board. Add Kaprielian to the names we could see come next September.