Limited to just 18 innings last year because of a right flexor strain, 2015 first-round pick James Kaprielian believes his injury-riddled season will help his career in the long-run.
"A lot of people might say last year could be a wash. I don't really look at it like that," said Kaprielian. "I look at last year like it was a building block for me. I think somewhere down the line, what I had to endure last year will help me. It may not be the year we wanted, but I think it'll help in the end."
Rated as the Yankees' No.9 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, Kaprielian was able to make just three starts with Class A Advanced Tampa last season, striking out 22 while walking only three batters.
The 22-year old also spent time pitching in the Arizona Fall League last season, where he sat in the mid-90s while reaching 97mph with his fastball. His performance in Scottsdale helped restore the team's confidence that he could soon be ready to help out in the big leagues.
"I want to be a No. 1. I want to be the guy and I want the ball," Kaprielian said. "I'm a competitor. I'm not going to go out of my way [to announce that] unless you ask me, but, yeah, I want the ball. I want to be the guy. I want to be the ace. There's a lot of guys in our organization who are like that.
"I think that's going to better us. We've got a lot of guys who compete with each other. Clint [Frazier], Chance Adams, all these guys, we all want to be the guy. I think if we get enough of us pushing each other toward the right path, we're going to be pretty good."
Kapreilian said he will not have any limitations when he joins the rest of the pitchers and catchers at Spring Training in Tampa, Florida on Feb. 14. There he will once again attempt to spark some excitement that he could join the major league team in the near future.
"My job is to compete every time I get the rock, and in between the times I don't get the rock, to bust my butt and continue to work," Kaprielian said. "That's all I can really control. Would I love to break with the team? Absolutely. But I can't really look too far into that. Regardless of where I end up, I have to pitch."