After a long, bumpy journey, the second-highest MLB draft pick to previously play for the Wenatchee AppleSox has made his major-league debut.
James Kaprielian tossed two innings for the Oakland Athletics in their 15-3 win over the San Francisco Giants on Sunday.
Kaprielian’s major-league debut began inauspiciously as he allowed a solo home run just three pitches into his debut and then walked the next hitter. However, he bounced back to retire each of the subsequent six hitters.
Despite being called up the majors on Aug. 4, Kaprielian was sent back down shortly after before again being recalled by Oakland this past weekend. The added week-and-a-half wait was trivial to Kaprielian compared to previous challenges and setbacks that he has overcome.
“I’m pretty glad it’s just behind me now. It’s been a long time coming,” Kaprielian said to MLB.com. “There’s been a lot of ups and downs along the road to get here. I’m happy to be a part of this team. This is something I really wanted to be a part of, help these guys any way I can.”
Kaprielian starred for the AppleSox in their most recent championship season. The right-hander posted a 1.80 ERA across nine appearances (two starts) in 2012.
Kaprielian struck out 20 batters in 15 innings and also picked up two saves.
He started two games for the AppleSox in the 2012 postseason, but could not pick a win in either. Kaprielian first tossed five scoreless against the Bellingham Bells in Game 1 of the East Division Series, a 1-0 AppleSox loss. He toed the rubber again for Game 2 of the WCL Championship Series, but allowed three runs (two earned) over six innings in the 6-2 loss.
Kaprielian was drafted 16th overall by the New York Yankees in 2015 after three stellar years at UCLA. He went 17-10 with a 2.06 ERA over 66 appearances (31 starts).
Kaprielian led the Pac-12 in strikeouts in 2014 and 2015 and was named to the All Pac-12 first team those same two years. At the time he was drafted, Kaprielian was fifth all-time at UCLA in career ERA and sixth all-time in career strikeouts (275).
He is the fifth player to play for the AppleSox and UCLA and then go on to appear in an MLB game.
Once pen met paper and he became a professional, Kaprielian did not find immediate success in the minors. Kaprielian was strong when on the mound, but he did miss the entire 2017 and 2018 seasons.
The injuries began in 2016 with elbow troubles that limited him to just three appearances for the Tampa Yankees (A-Advanced). The righty underwent Tommy John Surgery in April 2017 before also missing the 2018 season due to the recovery and shoulder issues.
Kaprielian swapped pinstripes for a green collar in 2017 when the Yankees packed him in a deal to the Athletics in exchange for Sonny Gray.
Kaprielian went a combined 4-3 with a 3.31 ERA in 19 games across three different levels last season. He made his major-league debut after appearing in just 27 games in the minors.
Sixteen former AppleSox players have now appeared in an MLB game. Kaprielian becomes the 11th pitcher of that group and the seventh right-hander.
He is also the third different Sox alum to debut this season, which matches a team record originally set in 2014.