The Athletics announced Tuesday that they’ve placed right-hander Jordan Weems on the 10-day injured list with a strained right lat and recalled right-hander James Kaprielian from their alternate training site.
Oakland already has a deep rotation — Sean Manaea, Jesus Luzardo, Mike Fiers, Frankie Montas, Chris Bassitt — so it seems that Kaprielian’s Major League debut will be made out of the bullpen. It’s been a long time coming for the former first-round pick and top 100 prospect, whom the A’s acquired in the trade that sent Sonny Gray to the Bronx.
Kaprielian, now 26 years old, was selected with the No. 16 oveall pick out of UCLA by the Yankees back in 2015. The 6’3″, 225-pound righty was impressive early in his pro career, but an elbow issue cost him most of the 2016 season. He made it back to pitch in the Arizona Fall League that year, which seemingly put him on track for a healthy 2017 season.
That, however, didn’t prove to be the case at all. Tommy John surgery early in 2017 would wipe out Kaprielian’s entire ’17 campaign, and the win-now Yankees bit the bullet when they traded the still highly regarded righty to Oakland in the aforementioned Gray deal. Oakland hoped to be acquiring a high-end talent when his stock was down due to injury, but he missed the 2018 season as well while recovering from that surgery.
Kaprielian finally made his organizational debut with the A’s in 2019, and he enjoyed strong results across three minor league levels. In 68 frames between Class-A Advanced, Double-A and Triple-A, Kaprielian worked to a combined 3.18 ERA with 9.9 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and 1.06 HR/9.
It’s been a half decade since Kaprielian was drafted, and between his considerable injury troubles and the shortened 2020 season, he’s still thrown just 97 1/3 professional innings. But he’s been working at the Athletics’ satellite camp in Stockton and been deemed ready for a big league look by the club’s decision-makers. A spot in the rotation could eventually be in the fold for the righty in the future, but for the time being he’ll slot into the bullpen and await his first pitch off a big league mound.