Yankees Draftee James Kaprielian Shines in Staten Island

Although I write about prospects on a regular basis, it’s not often I get to see the players I write about in action. However, this year’s 16th-overall pick, UCLA right-hander James Kaprielian, happened to be pitching for the Yankees’ New York-Penn League affiliate in Staten Island, which is just a short boat ride from my office. So I decided I’d get out from behind my computer screen to actually watch some of the players who fill up my hard drive. Luckily for me, the Yankees’ second-round pick, Indiana State left-hander Jeffrey Degano, pitched in relief, giving me plenty of solid pitching to observe. If I had a penchant for scouting, I’d be able to provide you with grades for each of his pitches and command — much like Kiley McDaniel does on the player pages. Unfortunately, my untrained eyes aren’t capable of grading pitches with that type of precision. So instead, I’ll just describe what I saw as best I can, and supplement it with some low-quality video courtesy of my iPhone.

Kaprielian sat 91-94 mph with his fastball, and dialed it up as high as 96 with two strikes. Observe this 93 mph two-strike offering to Bobby Wernes, who had struck out in just 12% of his plate appearances headed into play.

And here’s another fastball that went for strike three. This one clocked in at 94 mph.

He also threw an assortment of sliders, curveballs and changeups. The command of these pitches came and went, but seemed to improve as the game went on. Here’s an instance where his slider’s command came more than it went.

And here’s the curve:


Kaprielian’s final line was 3.2 innings with six strikeouts, zero walks, two hits and zero runs. He was fun to watch, so part of me wishes the Yankees had let him go a bit longer. But it’s been a long season for the 21-year-old. The college season began way back in February, remember. However, Kaprielian’s short outing gave me the chance to see the Yankees second-round draft pick, Jeff Degano.

Degano sat 90-92 mph and topped out at 93. His control was all over the place for his first couple of batters:

But he quickly got settled in and started dealing. However, he got a bit wild again in his third inning of work before the manager pulled him.

In addition to his low-90s fastball, he also threw a good number of curveballs in the 73-76 mph range that induced a bunch of swinging strikes. Here are a couple that happened to take place in two-strike counts:


Heading into the game, I was also interested in seeing Trey Amburgey, the Yankees’ 13th-round pick in this year’s draft. Amburgey was hitting a loud .359/.412/.535 with 21 steals between two levels, and Kiley told me he was generating some buzz due to his excellent pro debut. In the game I saw, however, he went 0-for-4, and never hit the ball particularly hard.

Furthermore, I clocked him at 4.25 down the line from the right side. That’s 55 speed, which isn’t exactly what you’d expect from a player with a boatload of steals and a lofty BABIP. Simply put, it wasn’t hard to tell why he fell to the 13th round in the draft. Amburgey’s still an interesting player to me, but he’s also a prime example of why scouting the stat line can be a dangerous endeavor, especially for players with small samples of games in the low minors.

Chris works in economic development by day, but spends most of his nights thinking about baseball. He writes for Pinstripe Pundits, FanGraphs and The Hardball Times. He's also on the twitter machine: @_chris_mitchell None of the views expressed in his articles reflect those of his daytime employer.

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6 years ago

You were here last week? Whoa.

Hey, he’s pitching again tonight for game one of the playoffs. Come see him again!