DUNEDIN — James Kaprielian came out of his cage and did just fine.
In his much-anticipated spring debut on Thursday, the Yankees’ 23-year-old pitching prospect threw two hitless innings against the Blue Jays while recording one walk and three strikeouts. The stadium radar gun had his fastball sitting at 95-96 mph.
“The bull’s out of the cage. He’s wild,” Kaprielian said with a smile.
Following the Yankees’ 11-5 exhibition win over the Blue Jays, Kaprielian had a meeting with Joe Girardi and Larry Rothschild, who informed the young right-hander that he would be optioned to minor league camp starting on Friday.
“It is what it is. We talked earlier in the spring. There was a statement that I wasn’t going to make the team out of camp,” Kaprielian said. “But you know, me being the person that I am, I’m going to compete like I’m trying to become an ace.”
Kaprielian hopes to pitch with the Yankees later this season. He is expected to open the 2017 campaign at High-A Tampa.
“That’s the goal,” he said. “I mean, I think I can help this team. Obviously I need to stay healthy, but at the end of the day regardless of where I am I need to be able to pitch and throw strikes and give my team an opportunity to win and try to get the guys around me better. If it ends up being in the Bronx, it’s going to be a fun time and I hope I can help those guys win. But if it’s in A-ball, if it’s in Double-A or Triple-A, I’m going to try to do the same thing: help those guys win.”
Before making his spring debut, Kaprielian was seen pacing around the clubhouse, listening to music through his massive headphones. Last season, the majors could’ve been a possibility, but the team’s 2015 first-round pick was forced to shut it down after just three starts at High-A Tampa due to a flexor tendon injury.
The organization’s preliminary plan was for Kaprielian to only pitch simulated games this spring, but that changed. The next step is for him to get built up for the minor-league season.
Kaprielian’s strikeouts on Thursday included Anthony Alford (slider swinging), Russell Martin (fastball looking) and Rowdy Tellez (fastball looking). He pitched the seventh and eighth innings.
“I didn’t think he overthrew. I thought he stayed within himself,” Girardi said. “You’re always concerned in that first outing and he’s been chomping at the bit. But I’m happy for him.”
Kaprielian will be on an innings limit, but could fast-track to the majors if he pitches well and stays healthy.
CESSA STRUGGLES, MITCHELL SHINES
Luis Cessa, in the five-man competition for the No. 4 and No. 5 rotation spots, lasted just 1.2 innings, giving up four runs on six hits. He said he didn’t want to make any excuses for his poor performance, yet he made some anyway. His command was off.
Bryan Mitchell, another candidate, was terrific, giving up just one run on two hits in three innings while striking out five. Mitchell had a strong spring last year before getting hurt. “That’s the closest he’s been to last year that I’ve seen. We want to build on that,” Joe Girardi said.
Girardi is keeping his cards close to the vest, but so far Mitchell and Luis Severino have looked good for the most part.
Clint Frazier delivered his first homer of the spring in the seventh inning, a wind-aided shot to center. “He hit it a long way. It’s great to see,” Joe Girardi said.
Aaron Hicks, Starlin Castro and Rob Refsnyder, who has been involved in trade rumors, also went deep.
Mason Williams, who missed most of camp due to injury, was optioned to Triple-A Scranton and reassigned to minor league camp.
The Yankees signed reliever Ernesto Frieri to a minor-league deal with an invite to camp. The 31-year-old righty saved a combined 30 games for the Angels in 2012 and 2013. He was effective during the World Baseball Classic, though he has not pitched in the majors since 2015.
Austin Romine avoided a scare on Wednesday night after X-rays and a CT scan on his right hand all proved negative. Joe Girardi said Romine has a “leg up” on Kyle Higashioka for the backup catcher spot, as expected.
Published at Thu, 16 Mar 2017 21:47:21 +0000