Height/Weight: 6‘4”, 200
Previously Drafted: 2012 – Rd 40 (1,211) by Seattle Mariners
Touched 92 in high school and sat high-80’s. Curve and change both showed plus potential, with his curve being the better of the two. Had unusually good command for a high school pitcher. MLB.com said that Kaprielian could have been selected in the first two rounds in 2012 if he had been signable away from his UCLA commitment.
Listed at 6’4”, 200, James Kaprielian has a more ideal build than the likes of Walker Buehler and Carson Fulmer. He’s also one of the most polished pitchers in this draft class, though he doesn’t possess the same level of upside or excitement as other options. His fastball typically sits in the low-90’s, with Baseball America describing it as “fairly flat, straight.” His velocity has been up more recently though, topping out at 95. BA mentions that Kaprielian’s curve is his “best pitch” and a “plus” offering. He also mixes in a “solid-average changeup” and has experimented with a slider.
“Enigmatic pitcher will pitch 90-92 mph, throwing too many solid average curveballs and look like a reliever at times, then will work 93-95 mph early in games with an above average to plus curveball at times. The changeup and command still come and go, but the peak stuff is hard to ignore if he can keep doing that.” –Kiley McDaniel, Fangraphs
“[Kaprielian] didn’t have the best stuff in a U.S. collegiate national team rotation that included Kyle Funkhouser and Carson Fulmer last summer, but he did have the best “pitchability” and is the safest bet to become a mid-rotation starter in the big leagues. He works with an 89-92 mph fastball as a starter, and he’s effective at that velocity because he can locate it. Kaprielian’s best pitch is his changeup, and he also has a solid slider and a curveball to give batters a different look. With his command and strong frame, he’s built to be a starter.”–MLB.com
“James Kaprielian has been able to hit 95 at the start of games and work his way down to that 90-92 range by the later innings. His plus breaking ball is an out pitch and he can throw an average change as well. His slider is a swing and miss pitch and he can slow it down to show a different look as well. He looks like a safe pick to be a #3/4 starter in a few years.” –Minor League Ball
Note: these grades are my summations based on all readily available scouting information from sources such as Baseball America, MLB.com and ESPN (Present/Future, 20-80 scale):
Prospect Overview and Future Outlook:
As with Walker Buehler, Kaprielian’s fastball is quite straight, but his velocity is not as good as Buehler’s, as it often sits between 90-92, giving him less margin for error. He throws a couple of decent secondary offerings, but there is no guaranteed swing-and-miss, out pitch, here, though his curve does have the potential to be that. If Kaprielian is able to maintain the higher velocity that he has shown over the last month or two then it makes him a far more attractive proposition, but there have been numerous cases in the past of pitchers showing an uptick in stuff or velocity right before the draft, only to see it regress back to prior levels shortly after. Kaprielian looks like a back of rotation starter with the upside of a #3 if he’s able to maintain his increased velo.
Kaprielian’s production at UCLA has improved each season. His stock is up some this year as his velocity has increased, and a recent Baseball America mock had him going at #9 to the Cubs, but more typically he has been slotting in the 15-20 range. Kaprielian may be considered a slight overdraft at #8, but he could also be available at a discount from slot, allowing the Sox to spread money around elsewhere. If the Sox are looking for a “safe”, cheaper option, then Kaprielian is a viable target.
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