Kaprielian's rotation case; Laureano red-hot

May 23rd, 2021

ANAHEIM -- stepped into a starting role for the A’s after Mike Fiers and Jesús Luzardo went down with injuries.

Since filling in for the ailing hurlers, Kaprielian has posted 2.53 ERA and pitched 10 2/3 innings while allowing a .195 batting average across two road starts at Fenway Park and, most recently, Angel Stadium on Friday night.

A’s manager Bob Melvin said the rookie has impressed in his current big league stint, adding that a long-term rotation spot could be an option.

“It's performance based,” Melvin said. “He's performed well and he's performed well in a couple of different places that might be tougher to do [so]."

After dealing with injury setbacks, including missing '17 and '18 after having Tommy John surgery, Kaprielian has made the most of the early season callup. The right-hander was considered one of the centerpieces of the trade that sent former A’s pitcher Sonny Gray from the Bay Area to the Yankees in 2017.

Kaprielian made two appearances in '20, pitching 3 2/3 innings out of the bullpen. His skipper said he's risen to the occasion in his current stint.

“When you get to the big leagues and you get an opportunity, it's how you take advantage of that opportunity and it gives you legs,” Melvin said. “His first two starts, he's definitely taken advantage of that.”

A Laguna Hills, Calif., native, Kaprielian’s start at Angel Stadium was loaded with around 100 friends and family in attendance. Melvin said he noticed a more comfortable Kaprielian on Friday night considering the rookie was pitching in a ballpark closer to home.

“His first start was at Fenway, [he] got off to a really tough start in the first inning and found a way through it, and ended up winning that game,” Melvin said. “And then having to pitch in front of a lot of family and friends, I think he looked more excited than nervous yesterday.”

Laureano’s hot May

Ramón Laureano has swung a hot bat over the last month.

The center fielder is batting .303 and slugging .697 in May, with eight home runs and a 196 wRC+ through 76 plate appearances entering Saturday, according to FanGraphs.

After batting .223 in April, Laureano said he has kept the same easy approach when he steps into the box.

“Just hand to the ball,” he said. “That's all. Keeping it simple.”

Laureano has provided a combination of power, speed and highlight-reel plays, like his robbery of a possible go-ahead, two-run home run from Anthony Rendon on Friday. He also leads the A’s with eight stolen bases despite not attempting to steal in May.

Given his ability to excel in multiple areas, Laureano said he has continued to focus on his strengths and dismisses the five-tool player label.

“I don't really think about none of the five tools,” Laureano said. “I just think about asking questions, just keep being curious and keep getting better. I've seen what I think is best for me, and leave alone what's not best for me. But I just keep asking questions and [have] curiosity, you might call it.”