The Oakland A’s made an exciting roster move on Tuesday, calling up pitching prospect James Kaprielian from their alternate training site.
Unfortunately, the promotion was prompted by less happy news, as reliever Jordan Weems was placed on the 10-day injured list with a strained lat.
This is the first trip to MLB for Kaprielian, who was already on the A’s 40-man roster. He was drafted in 2015 by the Yankees but got hurt almost immediately, and ended up missing nearly three full seasons (2016-18) to Tommy John surgery and related complications. During that time, he was traded to the A’s in the mid-2017 Sonny Gray deal.
The right-hander finally got healthy in 2019 and got his pro career on track. He showed well in both High-A and Double-A, with strong peripherals including at least a strikeout per inning, and he even pitched one game in Triple-A that went well. Already age 26 after his lengthy injury layoff, he’ll get a chance in the majors that many observers would be excused for having thought might never happen.
- Kap, 2019 (A+): 4.46 ERA, 36⅓ ip, 43 Ks, 8 BB, 6 HR, 4.43 FIP
- Kap, 2019 (AA): 1.63 ERA, 27⅔ ip, 26 Ks, 8 BB, 2 HR, 3.60 FIP
- Kap, 2019 (AAA): 2.25 ERA, 4 ip, 6 Ks, 0 BB, 0 HR, 0.80 FIP
It’s been a while since Kaprielian has registered on national prospect radars due to his extreme health questions, last making a major Top 100 list in pre-2017. But his stock has remained intriguing enough to hold steady on our Athletics Nation Community Prospect List, where he ranked No. 6 this past winter. Likewise, entering 2020 he was still in the A’s Top 10 according to both Keith Law and Athletics Farm.
In terms of stuff, in his return last summer Kaprielian didn’t show the premium velocity he once had before his surgery, but he was still in the 90s and able to get up around 95. He also has a wide array of secondary pitches, and demonstrated good control in the minors. Of course, we’ll all find out more when we get to see him with our own eyes in a real MLB game.
The addition of Kaprielian is just the latest step in the A’s youth movement, which is odd in that it’s happening during a contending season. Four of the top six names are now in the majors, including pitchers Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk as well as catcher Sean Murphy, though Puk is currently on the injured list. It’s feasible they could also be joined at some point by pitcher Daulton Jefferies (No. 5) and/or infielder Sheldon Neuse (No. 8).
While billed as a possible future starter, Kaprielian’s role will presumably be in the bullpen for now. The arm he’s replacing, Weems, was being used in a multi-inning low-leverage role, and that would make perfect sense for Kap at this moment.
Speaking of Weems, the right-hander is new to the majors himself, having made his own MLB debut just one week ago. He was off to a nice start, in two appearances with encouraging results.
Weems, 2020: 5 ip, 2 runs, 5 Ks, 1 BB, 0 HR, 5 hits, 1.64 FIP
Here’s an updated look at the A’s active 30-man roster, which will need to be pared down to 28 on Thursday.
Frankie Montas (R)
Sean Manaea (L)
Mike Fiers (R)
Chris Bassitt (R)
Jesus Luzardo (L)
Liam Hendriks (R)
Yusmeiro Petit (R)
Joakim Soria (R)
Jake Diekman (L)
James Kaprielian (R)
T.J. McFarland (L)
Daniel Mengden (R)
Burch Smith (R)
Lou Trivino (R)
J.B. Wendelken (R)
Sean Murphy (R)
Austin Allen (L)
Matt Olson (L)
Marcus Semien (R)
Matt Chapman (R)
Tony Kemp (L)
Chad Pinder (R)
Franklin Barreto (R)
Vimael Machin (L)
Khris Davis (R)
Mark Canha (R)
Ramon Laureano (R)
Stephen Piscotty (R)
Robbie Grossman (S)
Seth Brown (L)
10-day IL: LHP A.J. Puk (shoulder), RHP Jordan Weems (lat)