Some would say the Houston Astros took a huge risk selecting left-handed pitcher Brady Aiken with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft. Others would say that the Astros just landed the potential ace they desperately need to be relevant once again.
The 17-year-old became only the third high school pitcher to be selected first overall. Unfortunately, the other two didn’t fare well in the majors, which is why critics definitely have their doubts. Left-hander Brien Taylor, who was drafted by the New York Yankees in 1991, never even saw the big leagues after a bar fight essentially destroyed his shoulder. David Clyde at least spent 83 games in the majors, but the fact that the Texas Rangers brought him up immediately after he was drafted in ’73 is why his career never flourished.
Clearly, the Astros must be careful with how they progress Aiken through his minor-league career in order to avoid a repeat of history. With that being said, there’s no question that Aiken is far more talented and polished than Taylor and Clyde. In fact, Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow believes Aiken is someone very special.
“It’s the most advanced high school pitcher I’ve ever seen in my entire career,” Luhnow said, according to ESPN. “He has command like I’ve never seen before of his stuff.”
His stuff is why the Astros have to be ecstatic about the pick. Even though his fastball has some inconsistency as far as the velocity is concerned, he typically sits around 92-94 MPH with it topping out at 98 MPH. He has a plus-curveball that is said to make scouts jaws drop. The breaking-ball has great shape and drops in around 77-80 MPH. He also has an outstanding changeup that is another plus-pitch that sits in the low 80s. What makes him even more impressive is his above-average command and solid mechanics.
Aiken certainly has plenty of work ahead of him before the Astros can even consider calling him up to the majors. However, the good news is the organization has someone who has brightened their future. As soon as he is ready, Houston will have a top-notch pitcher who should have success right out of the gate.