During an interview about James Kaprielian at the end of spring training, Gary Denbo considered the question, though not for very long.
Did he see the heralded pitching prospect possibly making it to the Bronx by season’s end?
“It would not surprise me if he moved quickly through the organization,” said Denbo, the Yankees’ vice president of player development. “It would not surprise me because of all the good qualities that he brings every day that he’s out there working. But he has to stay healthy.”
It wasn’t to be.
The Yankees announced Thursday that Kaprielian, 23, will undergo Tommy John surgery, the expected news after he landed on the disabled list late last week.
Dr. Neil ElAttrache, whom Kaprielian saw Tuesday night in Los Angeles for a second opinion, will perform the surgery next Tuesday.
The righthander, taken in the first round of the 2015 draft (16th overall) and slated to start the season with high Class A Tampa, was placed on the DL on April 6 after complaining of discomfort in the same area of his right elbow that cost him most of 2016.
At that point the Yankees believed they were looking at a worst-case scenario because of what a subsequent MRI and dye-cast MRI revealed. They recommended surgery, but Kaprielian, sidelined after three April starts last season with a flexor strain in his right elbow, requested to see ElAttrache, who agreed with the club’s opinion.
“I feel for the kid,” Joe Girardi said yesterday. “He worked very hard to get back. He went to [the Arizona Fall League], he worked very hard to get ready for spring training. It wasn’t meant to be, and my heart goes out to him.”
General manager Brian Cashman, addressing the media on Wednesday, all but said surgery was in the offing.
“You see the ability that he possesses, but you have to be healthy, too, to be able to harness it,” Cashman said. “You know it’s there, and at some point we’re looking forward to having him for an extended period of time. But injuries are also a part of the game and you have to deal with them.”