NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Yankees’ newest prospect could find himself on a fast track to the Bronx.
New York used its highest draft pick since 1993 on UCLA starting pitcher James Kaprielian, who at the very least was a safe bet at No. 16. It’s believed that the 21-year-old right-hander won’t have any trouble developing into a mid-rotation starter in Major League Baseball.
“Kaprielian is a guy we’ve scouted for a long time, and we’re really happy we were able to get him,” Yankees director of amateur scouting Damon Oppenheimer said Monday, according to Newsday.
But can he blossom into an ace?
At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, Kaprielian has a fastball that tops out around 92 mph, according to MLB.com. He has a good slider, though his best pitch is a toss up between his changeup and curveball. Kaprielian showed the ability to turn up the heat on his fastball in this year’s Pac-12 tournament, hitting 95 on the gun, according to the New York Daily News.
Kaprielian went 10-4 with a 2.03 ERA and 114 strikeouts for UCLA in 2015.
“He … throws strikes and generates a lot of swings-and-misses,” Oppenheimer said. “On top of that, he has great makeup.”
The Yankees took lefty strikeout machine Jacob Lindgren with their top selection (No. 55) in 2014. He made his major league debut late last month.
New York also selected University of San Diego shortstop Kyle Holder with the 30th pick. Holder, taken in the compensatory portion of the draft, hit .348 this season but is known more for his acumen in the field.
“Holder is about as elite a defender as we’ve seen come through the college ranks,” Oppenheimer said. “He’s got a tremendous glove. He also had a productive year offensively and does not swing and miss.”
The Yankees took Indiana State left-hander Jeff Degano with the 57th overall pick.