The Yankees selected James Kaprielian, a right-handed pitcher from UCLA, with the No. 16 selection in the MLB Draft on Monday. This was the highest that the Yankees selected in the draft since they selected the right-handed Matt Drews with the 13th overall pick in 1993.
Kaprielian, who said that his rap name would be Grand Master Kap, was a dominant reliever as a freshman and then was the team’s No. 1 starter during his sophomore and junior seasons. He had an impressive 114 strikeouts in 106.2 innings during his junior season as a UCLA Bruin. He led the Pac-12 in strikeouts in each of the past two seasons.
In 17 appearances during his junior season (16 starts) he went 10-4 with an outstanding 2.03 ERA. He went 5-3 with an even better 1.64 ERA during conference play, which is more challenging than non conference play, and led the Pac-12 in strikeouts and wins during his junior season. He was named the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week and the NCBWA Collegiate Baseball National Pitcher of the Week after throwing nine no-hit innings against Arizona and striking out 11.
The Tustin, CA, native (born in Laguna Hills) is 6’4″, 200 pounds and played for the USA Collegiate National team during the summer of 2014. In a victory over Chinese Taipei, he struck out 12 and didn’t walk anyone in six shutout innings. During the summer of 2013, he was named an All-Star of the prestigious Cape Cod League (for the top collegiate baseball players) after appearing in five games for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox. In 20 innings pitched he had a 1.80 ERA and an impressive 28 strikeouts.
According to scouts, Kaprielian has pinpoint control with his fastball and has a great changeup. They also think that he can get to the big leagues quickly. He is projected to be a No. 3 starter in the majors, so it is possible that he could be third in the rotation after Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda in a few seasons.
He was selected in the 40th round of the 2012 MLB Draft after posting a career record of 33-3 with a 0.96 ERA, 250 strikeouts and 23 complete games at Beckman High School. He will likely begin his career with the Staten Island Yankees, which is the short season Single-A affiliate of the Yankees.
The Yankees made two other picks on the first day of the draft. As a result of getting a first round pick from David Robertson signing with the Chicago White Sox they received the 30th pick, and with that selection they drafted shortstop Kyle Holder from the University of San Diego. With their second round pick (No. 57), the Yankees drafted Jeff Degano from Indiana State University.
Here is a video where Kaprielian describes how he pitches with his mother’s memory in his heart: