TAMPA, Fla. -- James Kaprielian said he feels like a "caged bull" as he itches for a chance to face hitters in game competition, but the touted pitching prospect understands why the Yankees are proceeding cautiously.General manager Brian Cashman said Wednesday it is "more than possible" that Kaprielian will pitch
TAMPA, Fla. -- James Kaprielian said he feels like a "caged bull" as he itches for a chance to face hitters in game competition, but the touted pitching prospect understands why the Yankees are proceeding cautiously.
General manager Brian Cashman said Wednesday it is "more than possible" that Kaprielian will pitch only under simulated conditions this spring, coming off a season in which he was limited to just three April starts for Class A Tampa by a strained right flexor tendon.
"It's been slow. I'm getting plenty of reps," Kaprielian said. "We're taking it slow and there's a plan. I trust these guys, I trust what they're doing, and ultimately this is a marathon. There's no reason to go rushing into anything. I think they have a good plan, and I'm going to stick to it."
Ranked as the No. 58 prospect in baseball by MLBPipeline.com, Kaprielian threw live batting practice on a back diamond of the George M. Steinbrenner Field complex on Tuesday morning and says he has no doubt he will be ready for the beginning of the Minor League season.
Cashman said he expects Kaprielian, 22, to open the year at Class A.
"We just wanted to take a slow process in the spring, despite him being healthy," Cashman said.
After getting back on the mound in instructional league late last year, Kaprielian excited the Yankees by lighting up radar guns in the mid-90s during the prospect-heavy Arizona Fall League, where he was 2-3 with a 4.33 ERA in seven starts, striking out 26 in 27 innings.
"I think it was a good test," Kaprielian said. "It was obviously good competition and a ton of good athletes and players out there. For me to be able to get some innings, test the wing, it was good. I didn't have any problems, and coming into spring I feel strong and healthy. I think the goal is to continue that."
Cashman said Kaprielian was invited to big league camp as "an acknowledgement and a thank you" for going to the Fall League, but indicated that having him pitch in Grapefruit League contests was never a major part of the plan.
"We're preparing him, really, for his April Minor League season to start," Cashman said. "We are just taking into account it's a lot throwing from October into the Fall League from November on, then to big league camp. That's a lot of throwing, so we just wanted to minimize the exposure and keep him on a snail's pace."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.