They hoped it wouldn’t come down to this, but the Yankees received the inevitable news on Thursday that top pitching prospect James Kaprielian will undergo Tommy John Surgery and miss the entire 2017 season.
Kaprielian, the Yankees’ first-round draft pick out of UCLA in 2015, began experiencing elbow discomfort last April after going 2-1 with 1.50 ERA in his first three outings. The diagnosis was a flexor tendon strain in his right elbow and the Yankees chose to allow Kaprielian to rehab the injury and prepare for Arizona Fall League.
Slated to return to Class-A Tampa for the upcoming season, Kaprielian threw in minor league spring training games and made one appearance in a game in big league camp. Elbow discomfort would linger and the organization scratched him from his opening day start on April 6 against Lakeland. Kaprielian subsequently traveled to Los Angeles for an examination on Tuesday with Dr. Neil ElAtrrache, where he learned his fate.
Following a strong professional debut in 2015 with Short-Season Staten Island and three years pitching in the Pac-10 for UCLA, some observers believed that Kaprielian would quickly rise through the minor league system and take the fast track towards the Bronx. But with Tommy John Surgery on the horizon, Kaprielian will look to begin the gradual recovery process and potentially return to the mound at some point in 2018.