2015 Draft Profile: James Kaprielian

School: UCLA; Class: Junior

Position: RHP; B/T: R/R

Height: 6-4; Weight: 200

Previously Drafted: Seattle Mariners, 40th round, 2012


Background: A three-year member of UCLA’s vaunted pitching staff Kaprielian has worked exclusively out of the Bruins’ rotation the past two seasons after a dominant stint in the bullpen as a true freshman. During his debut collegiate campaign the big, 6-foot-4 right-hander tallied an impressive 53-to-24 strikeout-to-walk ratio while earning a pair of saves in 40.2 innings of work. The production was eye-catching enough to earn a trip to baseball’s premier summer league, the Cape, as one of only a handful of 19-year-olds. And Kaprielian continued to impress – despite taking on a much heavier workload.

Starring for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, Kaprielian began transitioning into a fulltime starter for the first time since high school. And the results were, well, damn near impressive: He would finish second in the league in strikeouts (41), trailing only eventual first rounder Kyle Freeland, and third in ERA (1.66 ERA). He would also throw 63% of his first pitches for strikes as well.

Kaprielian was able to carry that momentum into his sophomore season with UCLA, where we would post a 2.29 ERA while leading the ball club in strikeouts (108). And, once again, his production earned another trip to a premier summer experience: starring for Team USA.

Kaprielian would five starts for the national collegiate team, posting a remarkable 29-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 25.1 innings of work.

Fourteen starts in his junior season this year, Kaprielian upped the ante: 92.2 IP, 10.20 K/9, 2.62 BB/9, and a 1.94 ERA – the latter three currently stand as career highs. He would also combine with the underrated David Berg to throw a 10-inning no-hitter against heavy-handed Arizona.


Projection: Very, very little to dislike about Kaprielian: he’s not overpowering, per se, but his advanced approach allows him to miss plenty of bats; he does a solid job of limiting free passes; he’s performed well at the highest amateur levels of competition, against premium opponents; he’s sturdy, but hasn’t been overworked.

Kaprielian is, quite frankly, everything one would look for in polished collegiate arm – one that is very likely to move quickly through the minor leagues.

The lone knock on the big right-hander has been inability to avoid the long ball over the past two seasons with UCLA; he’s allowed nine dingers in his last 198.2 innings of work, or about .41 HR per nine innings.

He’s a solid mid-rotation arm, a potential #3/#4.


Ceiling:  2.0- to 2.5-win player

Floor:  1.5-win player

Risk:  Low to Moderate

Grade: Mid First Round



Photo Courtesy by Don Liebig via uclabruinas.com.


After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.