The Scottsdale Scorpions may have come up short in their contest against Salt River on Wednesday night, losing 6-4, but it was still a big night for a host of New York Yankees prospects.Pitching in a game for the first time since late April, when a right elbow injury prematurely
The Scottsdale Scorpions may have come up short in their contest against Salt River on Wednesday night, losing 6-4, but it was still a big night for a host of New York Yankees prospects.
Pitching in a game for the first time since late April, when a right elbow injury prematurely ended what was supposed to be his first full professional campaign, Scottsdale starter James Kaprielian (Yankees' No. 9 prospect) allowed one hit in three scoreless innings en route to facing one batter over the minimum. The 2015 first-round Draft pick recorded six of his nine outs via strikeout, throwing 29 of his 40 pitches for strikes in the outing.
"I feel good right now," said Kaprielian, whose fastball reportedly sat around 95 mph and topped out at 97. "It's slowly starting to come back. I just want to take everything pitch-by-pitch and do everything I can to improve every time I take the rubber. Stuff-wise, I also felt good. There were some mistakes in there, but sometimes you get away with it and other times you don't. I just need to learn from it and get better in my next outing.
"I felt my command was right where I wanted it to be, where it should be. I've been working hard in my bullpens and sides, but I still think it can be better. That's going to take time, but we're on the right track."
Kaprielian made just three starts in the Short Season New York-Penn League during his pro debut, but the Yankees felt he was advanced enough to make the jump directly to the Class A Advanced Florida State League for his 2016 full-season debut. The 22-year-old right-hander quickly validated the Yankees' decision by posting a 1.50 ERA across his first three starts, during which he allowed eight hits and compiled a 22-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
But it wasn't long after Kaprielian's April 21 start that he was placed on the disabled list with an ailing right elbow, an injury that would ultimately sideline him for the duration of the regular season.
"This whole year, it's been a huge character test," Kaprielian said. "I don't call it a wash by any means -- obviously it wasn't what the Yankees or I had in mind -- but it was a big mental test and a big character building year for me."
Kaprielian wasn't the only Yankees prospect to enjoy success on Wednesday night. No. 17 overall prospectGleyber Torres (Yankees' No. 2), acquired from the Cubs in July as part of the Aroldis Chapman deal, hit an impressive solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning, blasting a middle-away fastball onto the berm beyond the right-centerfield wall. The 19-year-old shortstop, who batted third for Scottsdale in the game, finished 1-for-4.
After missing the entire 2016 campaign while recovering from shoulder surgery, Yankees first baseman/designated hitter Greg Bird, the 2014 AFL MVP, has gotten off to a strong start in his second tour of the Fall League, as he went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and an RBI. Miguel Andjuar, the Yankees' No. 7 prospect, also finished 2-for-4 and scored a run for the Scorpions.
"It's an extremely exciting time for the organization and its fans," Kaprielian said when asked about the impressive collection of Yankees prospects on display. "The front office has done a really good job, and as players we push each other. We talk about what we want to do all the time always try to pick the brains of the older guys, the Aaron Judges and Greg Birds. We hold each other accountable and keep each other up so that we can eventually help the organization."
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.