Patrick Teale

James Kaprielian has pitched very well early on and it's because he's focused on one goal.

TAMPA, FL - It’s no secret that New York Yankees pitching prospect James Kaprielian is quickly making a name for himself. His performances during Spring Training and his season debut with the Tampa Yankees against the Bradenton Marauders on Monday night are examples of just how advanced his game actually is, leaving us not with the question of will Kaprielian make it to the big leagues but when will he make it.

His professional exposure last season was extremely limited.  In fact, he pitched all of eleven innings over two minor league levels.  However, Kaprielian has used the past year focusing all his energy on one goal; making it to New York.

During the off season he worked on not only staying in shape but key minor details of his game.

“I put some weight on, put some strength on, trying to get stronger, and just better shape,” Kaprielian said.

For the right-handed pitcher it’s never a matter of just being good enough to stand on the mound but what to look for to help improve his next pitch. Tampa Yankess manager Pat Osborn said that Kaprielian is unlike many young players in the league because he’s mature and so much more focused on his routine.

“He’s got tunnel vision," Osborn said.  "He’s New York and he’s going to get there as fast as possible and nothing is going to hold him back."
   
Constantly working on improving all four of his pitches’ is a vital aspect for Kaprielian. Working on continuing to improve his fastball velocity is something he has expressed great interest in too. He believes that this will be a key pitch for him to keep improving as he tries to advance to the majors.
   
During his 2016 minor league debut Kaprielian was a force to be reckoned with on the mound as he was nearly perfect for five innings. Kaprielian threw 60 pitches total, with 49 strikes, and nine total strikeouts. He allowed only three hits but gave up a run late in the fourth.
   
Osborn said they’re really aren’t many areas that he could think of off-hand that Kaprielian needs to improve on for his next start, other than the consistency of his changeup, but that’s being “nit-picky at most.” 
   
Being the detailed oriented player he is, Kaprielian was already aware of some of the problems he was facing on the mound during his season debut, and was keeping them as references to help him make his decisions as the game progressed.
   
“They all felt pretty good," he said of his pitches, "and when I made a mistake with them I’d go back to them and try to make the adjustments on the next pitch."
    
However, the rest of his pitches were there for him on Monday including his fastball which reached up to 97 mph.
   
Pitching coach Tim Norton knows from working with Kaprielian even ever so briefly that if there’s any area of his game that needs to be improved he’s willing to make the necessary adjustments needed immediately.
   
“He’s a guy who’s never happy with what’s going on," Norton said. "There’s always something that can be a little better, something you could tweak, something you can work on."
   
According to Osborn and Norton, Kaprielian possesses qualities you don’t see in many young players as they begin their minor league careers— the fact that he is poised and extremely polished.
   
“He’s always striving for more,” Norton said so the plan is to really keep buckling down to fix the tiny details and help clean up an almost flawless pitcher in hopes of making it to New York by the end of the summer.
   
“I think he’s going to fly through [the minor leagues]," Osborn added. "He needs his innings, he needs to build up that work load. But if he can continue to pitch like he did four or five days ago I don’t see why this kid couldn’t get to the big leagues by the end of the year.  He’s everything you look for in a starting pitcher.”
   
Kaprielian isn’t letting the buzz the media is giving him effect his work ethic at all either. Even though it is very possible we could see Kaprielian make it to New York by the end of the summer, Kaprielian knows he has work to do in Tampa first.
   
“I have to pitch where I’m at, and right now it’s Tampa," Kaprielian said. "So wherever the Yankees feel they need me….that’s where I’m going to be."
   
Kaprielian is everything an organization wants and at the rate he’s playing he should have no trouble making it to the majors. His season so far has shown that his confidence level are evident and it’s only a matter of time before we see him on a more permanent basis at a higher level.
   
“I feel like the way I take the game, anytime I get the ability to touch the mound, I feel like the best pitcher on the mound,” Kaprielian concluded.


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