NEW YORK—It’s never a good development when a college pitcher taken in the first round of the previous year’s draft is limited to 18 innings at high Class A and has his season end in late April. This is especially true when that pitcher might otherwise have surfaced in the big leagues in 2016.
Yet, the positive side of James Kaprielian’s right arm injury was the location.
“It was in the elbow, and if it needed to be fixed there is a process for that,” general manager Brian Cashman said of surgery. “The shoulder is different because you don’t know what to expect.”
Kaprielian made three starts at Tampa, the last of which was April 21. After that the Yankees discovered inflammation and soreness in his elbow. In late June, Kaprielian was diagnosed with a strained flexor tendon and didn’t pitch again until the Arizona Fall League. He didn’t require surgery.
“We weren’t concerned because it was a time issue,” Cashman said. “With the elbow, there is less concern.”
Kaprielian, 22, was taken with the 16th pick in the 2015 draft out of UCLA. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound righty impressed in spring training this year. In three Tampa starts he went 2-1, 1.50 and fanned 22 and walked three in 18 innings.
Kaprielian finished the AFL with a 4.73 ERA with 26 strikeouts and eight walks in 27 innings.
While the Yankees need arms for their rotation, the competition in spring training probably won’t include Kaprielian.
“He threw 18 innings in the Florida State League, so it’s hard to see him start past there,” Cashman said when asked if the organization knew where Kaprielian would start the 2017 season.
• Righthander Conor Mullee, a 24th-round pick in 2010 from Saint Peter’s (N.J.), made it to the big leagues in 2016 and appeared in three games before a nerve injury in his right arm required surgery. He already had two Tommy John surgeries. New York lost Mullee on waivers to the Cubs right after the World Series.
• The Yankees acquired a pair of righthanders—Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman—from the Astros in exchange for catcher Brian McCann in a mid-November trade. The trade of McCann clears the way for 2016 rookie sensation Gary Sanchez to be the everyday catcher.