Yanks' youth movement gathering more steam

Young pitchers Kaprielian, Adams among next wave of prospects with sights on bigs

Yanks' youth movement gathering more steam

NEW YORK -- The Yankees' accelerated youth movement was the talk of Major League Baseball over the final eight weeks of the regular season, as Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin stepped into the lineup and showed what they could do at the game's highest level.

James Kaprielian expects that he and a few of the Yanks' promising pitchers will comprise the next wave to make a lasting impression in The Bronx. Flanked by touted arms like those belonging to Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield, Kaprielian believes that could happen as soon as this season.

"It's a fun thing to watch," Kaprielian said. "Seeing those guys work, knowing who they are personally as people, watching those guys go about their work and getting the opportunity that they have is really good for them. To be able to kind of be in the back seat and see that, it gives hope to the rest of us younger guys."

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Adams, Kaprielian and Sheffield were among the participants for Wednesday's installment of the Yankees' Winter Warm-Up, helping serve lunch to seniors with Encore Community Services at St. Malachy's Church in Manhattan before visiting the famed Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

Kaprielian on his motivation

The young arms could soon become a popular New York attraction in their own right, with general manager Brian Cashman having lauded Adams as perhaps the best pitching prospect in the organization after he went 13-1 with a 2.33 ERA in 25 games (24 starts) for Class A Advanced Tampa and Double-A Trenton.

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"I'd say I learned how to pitch, which is better than just going out there and throwing," said Adams, who was converted to starting after being drafted as a reliever. "I kind of learned how to pitch and did my research on hitters and stuff like that, rather than just throwing. I worked on a changeup a lot last year; I had one, but I worked to improve it."

Though Kaprielian missed most of last season while rehabbing from a strained right flexor tendon, the UCLA product was able to touch 97 mph in the Arizona Fall League, which helped restore his confidence as he heads into his second big league Spring Training.

"I want to be a No. 1 [starter]," Kaprielian said. "I want to be the guy and I want the ball. 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."

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Sheffield came to the Yankees from the Indians in the Andrew Miller trade, and though the left-hander said it was difficult to say goodbye to his old teammates, he responded by going 3-0 with a 1.73 ERA in five starts for Tampa before finishing his season with Trenton.

Just 20 years old, Sheffield said that he plans to get a head start on his first big league Spring Training by reporting to the Yanks' Player Development Complex on Tuesday. He should expect to soon have plenty of company among this hungry prospect crop.

"It's a lot of fun, knowing that the group of guys we have right now in the Minor Leagues is possibly the future for the Yankees," Sheffield said. "Obviously, they're big shoes to fill from when they were on top before, but I think this group of guys is ready to get down to it."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.