Let’s try this again.
Brady Aiken made post-draft headlines last year after he was drafted No. 1 overall by the Houston Astros and was unable to ever come to terms with the team. The Astros claimed an undisclosed injury prevented their contract-holding hand while Aiken’s camp said nothing was wrong.
Ultimately, neither side could come to a decision and Aiken was left, for the most part, to the baseball winds. Now, the former Cathedral Catholic left handed pitcher is hoping for a slightly more positive draft experience this week and he’s hoping to hear his named called early; again.
Here’s what you need to know about Aiken and his journey back to draft day:
There’s a reason Aiken was taken with the No. 1 overall pick last June. Over the course of his high school career Aiken boasted a 1.09 ERA in 160.2 innings pitched and held opponents to a collective .151 batting average.
As a senior, Aiken pitched in 29 games for Cathedral Catholic, in San Diego, he gave up just 29 hits.
In addition to a strong performance with his high school team, Aiken also pitched for the 18U United States national baseball team and led the team to the 2013 Baseball World Cup. He started on the mound in the gold medal game and threw seven innings of baseball with 10 strikeouts.
Aiken’s story is a long one. It’s convoluted and complicated. It also kept him away from professional baseball last year.
It all started last year when Aiken, then 17-years-old, was considered by many as the top prospect in the 2014 draft and was, ultimately, selected first overall by the Houston Astros.
Aiken spoke about his reaction to being drafted with the MLB:
It’s really a big honor, and I just think I’ve worked hard enough and I’ve done everything I could to put myself in the position that the Astros wanted to make the move, so I’m really excited to get the call. I’m just excited to go out there and start working hard and start helping the team.
Aiken never got that chance. Not soon after he heard his name called in the draft, issues with Aiken’s health – and his arm – prompted Houston to question his future with the team and the two parties stalled in a series of back and forth debates. The Astros claimed that Aiken had elbow inflammation in his throwing arm and, therefore, wanted to alter his signing bonus. Aiken didn’t agree. Ultimately, the signing deadline on July 18 passed by and Aiken became the first No. 1 overall pick not to sign since 1983.
Aiken had a handful of options in front of him. He could take the college route and head to UCLA, where he had previously committed, but would then have to wait until after his junior year to be eligible for the draft. Instead, Aiken opted to enroll in IMG Academy’s postgraduate baseball program so he could maintain his draft eligibility.
Despite last year’s draft debacle, his surgery this spring and the current road to recovery, Aiken is still expected to be selected in the first round of this year’s MLB Draft.
Odds are pretty good that Houston, which holds the No. 2 overall pick, won’t be looking at Aiken but there are plenty of MLB squads in need of a solid left-hander and that’s exactly what Aiken is.
Granted Aiken, and his recovery, are still a risk. But this is a kid who was hitting the upper 90s and into the low 100-mph zone on his fastball a year ago. That might be just enough to warrant another attempt at drafting Aiken.