Player: Brady Aiken
Drafted by: Houston Astros
DOB: 08/16/1996 (Age: 17)
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 205 lbs
School: Cathedral Catholic (Calif.) HS
College Commitment: UCLA
Historical Draft Note: Aiken becomes the first high school pitcher taken No. 1 overall in the annual Major League Baseball amateur draft since 1991.
Brady Aiken won’t celebrate his 18th birthday until mid-August, but it’s already clear that the prep left-hander will be a star. Actually, Aiken is already a star; there’s no high school pitcher in this year’s draft class who comes close to matching his on-field accomplishments.
While Aiken had already made a name for himself pitching for the East Cobb Astros and USA Baseball 14-and-under National Team during the summer of 2011, he wouldn’t emerge as a star for his high school team until the following year. After serving as the Cathedral Catholic’s backup varsity quarterback as a freshman, Aiken opted to give up his two-sport aspirations to focus strictly on baseball. His decision paid immediate dividends, as the southpaw finished his sophomore campaign with a 1.32 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 47.2 innings.
Aiken continued to improve as a junior the following year, posting a 0.92 ERA with 80 strikeouts and 25 walks in 53.1 innings. More importantly, at least from a draft perspective, Aiken’s success carried over to the summer showcase circuit, where he opened even more eyes as the winning pitcher for Team USA in the 18-and-under World Cup gold medal game. The performance ultimately led to Aiken’s selection to start for the West team in the 2013 Perfect Game All-American Classic.
Aiken was already viewed as a probable first-round draft pick as he entered his senior season, but the left-hander began to shoot up the draft boards early in the spring thanks to improved fastball velocity and command of his secondary offerings. He’d finish the high school season with a 1.06 ERA and 111/15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in just 59.2 innings.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
Excellent athlete with highly projectable frame at 6’4”, 205 pounds; plenty of room to develop and add strength; clean delivery requires minimal effort; consistently repeats mechanics; good use of lower half with strong trunk rotation; quick, effortless arm action.
Fastball velocity has steadily improved over last year as he’s developed and gained strength; sits comfortably at 92-94 mph and has shown ability to bump 96-97; shows good feel for a cutter, though it’s his least-developed offering; knows how to attack hitters with pitch thanks to plus command; age and size suggests he’ll sit mid-90s at maturity.
Present plus offering at 76-78 mph with potential to improve a full grade; has improved arm speed on pitch to create tighter rotation and more bite; good depth; feel for throwing it for a strike and taking it out of the zone to generate whiffs.
Solid-average offering that flashes plus; good speed differential at roughly 10 mph off his fastball; decent fading action; sells it with good arm speed; keeps hitters off balance, preventing them from keying on his fastball and breaking ball.
Greatest strength; combines stuff with polish better than any hurler in the draft, as a 17-year-old nonetheless; superb feel for pitching.
MLB Player Comparison: Clayton Kershaw
Though it's an aggressive comparison, Aiken draws comparisons to Clayton Kershaw for his physically strong but athletic build, potential for three plus-or-better offerings at maturity and projection as a front-of-the-rotation force.
Projection: No. 1 starter
Major Leagues ETA: Late 2016
Chances of Signing: 95 percent
Aiken is committed to UCLA next season, but there’s no chance he steps foot on campus after being the No. 1 overall pick.
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