Yankees fans always love to look at box scores and see the Red Sox lost…and they may have felt an extra twinge when looking at who beat them Wednesday night.
Boston lost to Oakland at Fenway Park Wednesday, and the winning pitcher for Oakland was James Kaprielian, the former Yankees first-round pick who was dealt to the A’s in the Sonny Gray trade.
Even better: Wednesday was Kaprielian’s first career MLB start, and he picked up his first win after allowing just one run over five innings – and did it in front of several friends and family members, including his father, who flew in to watch the game.
“They’ve been in my corner times when I didn’t think I’d be in this position,” Kaprielian said. “They are the backbone of who I am.”
Kaprielian, now 27, was ticketed to be a quick riser in the Yankees’ system when he was drafted No. 16 overall in 2015, but after pitching 11 1/3 innings as a rookie and 18 at then High-A Tampa in 2016, his elbow gave out. He missed most of that season with elbow discomfort, then underwent Tommy John surgery in 2017 and ended up missing nearly three full seasons.
In between, he was dealt to the A’s in 2017 in the Sonny Gray trade deadline deal, and didn’t take the mound again until May 2019, pitching 68 innings across three levels. He then spent most of 2020 at the A’s Alternate Site and made his MLB debut in August 2020, eventually making two appearances and allowing three runs in 3 2/3 innings.
Kaprielian began this year at Triple-A, but was summoned when the A’s lost both Jesus Luzardo and Mike Fiers, and he nabbed his first MLB win in a park he figured he’d be pitching in a lot as a Yankee.
“My journey to get to this point was an absolute struggle. There’s times when it was great and times when it was bad,” he said. “At the same time, when my back is against the wall you’re never going to see any quit out of me.”
Kaprielian is, four years after the deal, the only one of four players involved still with either the A’s or Yankees; the A’s traded Jorge Mateo to San Diego for A-ball outfielder Junior Perez last June and dealt Dustin Fowler to Pittsburgh for cash this spring, and the Yankees dealt Gray and a minor-leaguer to Cincinnati for Shed Long and a competitive balance pick prior to the 2019 season.
The Yankees’ side of that tree runs even deeper, as Long was dealt to Seattle for Josh Stowers the same day, and then Stowers was traded to Texas for Rougned Odor earlier this season – so the Yankees’ side of the trade is now Odor and LHP T.J. Sikkema, who was taken with that competitive balance pick and has not yet pitched in 2021.
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