Armenian American Baseball Players Make a Big Impact on the Road to the College World Series
By Grant Pakhtigian
FLArmenians Sports Contributor
Last month, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) College Baseball World Series (CWS) took place in Omaha, Nebraska with the country’s top teams competing for the title of national champion. This summertime tradition in America’s heartland caps off the season for the young athletes looking to make a name for themselves as they seek to go pro. In the run up to the CWS, two Armenian American baseball players undertook their mission for the early summer slate in a series of 3-game playoffs to mete out the NCAA crown.
Florida college teams are among the finest in the nation as Florida State University (FSU), University of Florida (UF), and University of Miami (UM) all ranked in the top 25 in the 2014-15 season.
This year, University of Miami second baseman George Iskenderian became only the second Miami player ever to win the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season batting title. He finished the regular season with a .391 batting average and started all 55 games. Iskenderian was recognized with first-team awards for another great year, originally playing short-stop before moving over to second base. Last year, he hit .373 with 23 RBIs in 40/55 games.
A junior college transfer and native of Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Iskenderian helped make UM one of the most potent lineups in all of college baseball. During the CWS he hit .300 and went two for four in the season ending game against UF. UM took 6th place in the CWS, an admirable accomplishment.
Although the St. Louis Cardinals drafted him last year he decided to stay in Coral Gables to complete his senior year at the “U.” In the 2015 draft, Iskenderian was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the seventh round (211th overall).
In addition to our own college baseball star, another young Armenian American athlete made a name for himself this season. James Kaprielian, a pitcher for the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), has shown his Bruins how pitching with numerous methods can bring his team victories along the path. He had one of the greatest pitching careers ever recorded by a Bruin. He recorded the fifth lowest ERA in program history, with sixth most strikeouts of all-time. Kaprielian was All-Pac-12 first team designee in this his last season.
Although UCLA didn’t make it to the CWS finals, Kaprielian received good news last month when he was the top pick of the New York Yankees (16th overall) in the 2015 MLB draft. The Yankees consider him very coachable and a good fit for their pitching roster, which is a big plus for teams who want someone they can trust for the betterment of the franchise. Kaprielian has had a challenging year and for him to work his way up to a top prospect in major league baseball is quite a feat.