After breaking into the Top 10 last week in BYB’s Yankee Prospect Watch with #11 Dillon Tate and #10 Albert Abreu, we continue with two more young hurlers making their way through the Yankees farm system.
Coming in at #9, according to MLB.com rankings, is RHP James Kaprielian, followed by fellow RHP and #8 Yankees prospect, Domingo Acevedo.
At this time last year, James Kaprielian was seen as a guy who could possibly make his way to the Bronx in short order after being drafted 16th overall in the 2015 amateur draft. Unfortunately for James, his season was cut very short after making just three starts for High-A Tampa in April with elbow inflammation. The rest of the spring and summer did not go much better as he was diagnosed with a flexor tendon strain while rehabbing in June.
Photo: Los Angeles Times
Coming out of UCLA in 2015, Kaprielian was one of the most polished pitchers in the draft commanding three plus pitches, his fastball, curve and change up to go with an average slider. At UCLA Kaprielian’s fastball sat between 88-92 but after being drafted in 2015 was able to average 94 mph and even maxed out at 99.
As I mentioned earlier, the Yankees had big plans for him in 2016 and he got off to a hot start striking out 22 over 18.0 innings with a 1.50 ERA over his outings in Tampa. The injury bug put a damper on 2016 but as James has said it was a setback that will only strengthen him mentally.
The Yankees added Kaprielian to the Arizona Fall League roster where over 27.0 innings, James struck out 26 while allowing 22 hits and posting a 4.33 ERA. The most important part of the fall for James though was being able to get back on the bump, get some work and compete again as he prepares for 2017.
Kaprielian has the kind of stuff to be a number three starter and maybe more if his velocity and command hold up in the mid-90’s range he showed in 2015. This summer James could again find himself in position to make his way to the House That Jeter Built if he can keep moving in the right direction with his development and obviously maintain his health.
Drafted the highest out of any college arm in Yankees history, once James makes it to the Bronx, we should expect him to be there for a while. It very well could be as soon as this summer.
Coming in one spot ahead of Kaprielian is fellow RHP, and flame thrower, Domingo Acevedo. With a fastball that has touched 103 and regularly sits between 96-100, Acevedo is one of the hardest throwing pitchers in the minor leagues. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, the 22 year-old didn’t even start pitching until he was 16!
Armed with a fastball with a scouting grade of 80 (the top possible score) and a plus change up, Acevedo has a very, very high ceiling, one that the Yankees are very excited about. Vice President of player development, Gary Denbo, believes Acevedo will move quickly through the organization and so far there is no reason to think he won’t.
In 2016, Acevedo made eight starts in A-ball for Charleston in the South Atlantic League posting a 1.90 ERA, striking out 48 over 42.2 innings before quickly being promoted to the high-A Tampa. While in the Florida State League Domingo made another 10 starts striking out 54 over 50.1 innings while posting a 3.22 ERA. For the course of the season, Acevedo fanned 102 over 93.0 innings while posting a 2.61 ERA.
One other great skill that Acevedo has is his fairly good command. While he averaged 9.9 strikeouts per nine, he only averaged 2.1 walks per nine.
Acevedo will likely end up in either Tampa briefly before being promoted to Double-A Trenton or go directly to Trenton where he will face his most difficult test yet. Double-A is the level that makes or breaks many a good ball players but Acevedo has the tools to be a frontline starter if his slider develops into a plus pitch and with his velocity, he could end up a closer as a backup plan.
As we continue our march toward the top Yankee prospect, next week we will cover #7 prospect, 3B Miguel Andujar, an exciting young infielder who is quickly working his way up the minor league ladder.
We are now inside of six weeks from the day pitchers and catchers report and the excitement will continue to build as we approach Spring Training.
Stay up to date with everything Yankees here at #BYB and keep following the Yankees Prospect Watch. It’s only getting better.
BYB ‘Series’ Writer Follow me on Twitter:@DManLucia