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Brady Aiken

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Brady James Aiken

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[edit] Biographical Information

Pitcher Brady Aiken was the first overall selection in the 2014 Amateur Draft, by the Houston Astros out of Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego, CA. He was the third straight first overall selection by the Astros, following Carlos Correa in 2012 and Mark Appel in 2013. It was only the third time that a high school pitcher was selected first overall, after David Clyde in 1973 and Brien Taylor in 1991. Both Clyde and Taylor were lefties, like Brady, and both were flops, however.

Aiken's selection was not a surprise, as he had established himself early as one of the top draft-eligible prospects thanks to a fastball timed at 96-97 mph and an excellent curve ball, in addition to exceptional polish for a high school pitcher: Astros GM Jeff Luhnow described him as "the most advanced high school pitcher I've ever seen in my entire career", adding: "He has command like I've never seen before". He had a commitment to UCLA, although it was expected that he would forgo that in order to sign with Houston. The two sides seemed to come to a quick agreement on a signing bonus of $6.5 million - equivalent to that given by the Pittsburgh Pirates to Jameson Taillon when he was selected second overall in the 2010 amateur draft - but a later physical exam revealed concerns about the health of Aiken's elbow, while his advisers accused the Astros of trying to manipulate Aiken's contract in order to fit their pool of money available for bonuses under current MLB rules. They alleged that the Astros were trumping the health issues in order to reduce the bonus and thus fit his signing (and that of a couple other prominent draftees) under the allotted cap. In the end Aiken, adviser Casey Close and the Astros could not come to an agreement and the July 18th signing deadline passed without a deal in place. Just as he was the third high school pitcher taken first overall he also became the third first overall pick not to sign, joining Danny Goodwin in 1971 and Tim Belcher in 1983.

Aiken decided not to go to college immediately, as this would have made him unavailable for the amateur draft until the end of his junior year. Instead, he chose to attend the IMG Academy, a multi-sport training and education complex located in Bradenton, FL in order to have a chance to play while maintaining his draft eligibility. The plan hit a snag on March 19, 2015, however, when, with some 50 scouts in attendance, he was forced to leave his first start of the season after making only 13 pitches with an unspecified injury. The news went from bad to worse as Aiken announced on March 26th that he had undergone Tommy John surgery, putting him out of action for likely a year, and greatly reducing his value in this year's draft. Indeed, he fell to rank #17, when the Cleveland Indians made him their first selection. He soon signed with the club, figuring out that he did not want to be the next Matt Harrington.

[edit] Further Reading

  • Jordan Bastian: "Tribe takes last year's No. 1 pick Aiken at 17: Lefty recovering from Tommy John surgery after not signing with Astros in 2014",, June 8, 2015. [1]
  • Jim Callis: "Time running out for Astros to sign No. 1 overall pick: GM Luhnow denies club is using Aiken's physical against him in negotiations",, July 15, 2014. [2]

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