2014 MLB First Overall Pick Profile: Brady Aiken, LHP, Cathedral Catholic HS (CA)

Easily the top prep LHP in the draft and arguably the top pitcher in the draft. Good mechanics with top flight stuff from the left side is hard to come by.

Summary

What is there to say about Brady Aiken that hasn't been written or said about him already all over the internet?

Not a whole lot.

He was known before this season, but wasn't considered a top pick due to his fastball topping out at 92 MPH from the left side and an average curve. But, after taking the fall and winter away from baseball, he came out this spring launching bullets from the left side and vaulting his name into 1-1 consideration.

Aiken now sits comfortably at 92 and runs his fastball up to 96 which is easily plus for a lefty. You add in a hammer for a curve ball that Keith Law ranks as one of the top three in the prep class for this year, and you have a recipe for a high ceiling lefty. Lets add to the mix a bit. He also has shown plenty of comfort with a change up. I like to see comfort with a pitch. But, in all honesty, I won't buy a scouting grade until Double-A.

Mechanically, Aiken doesn't flash and he doesn't raise flags. He fits within kinematic parameters for the most part. Doesn't appear to rely on his arm and create stiff arm action. He uses his height well. He could definitely add some momentum to his delivery. He has a very solid foundation for his mechanics. There's definitely changes and improvements to be made, but that's for any pitcher at any level. For example, you might want to open up his stride some, and as previously mentioned, add some momentum.

Right now, he shows very good command for a HS pitcher, and he appears to be athletic enough for that to translate. Some of the mechanical changes may alter that early but I am confident he could adapt.

Overall, by all accounts he's a good and level-headed kid. He does Crossfit, which if I am any team that drafts him, I'm putting a quick stop to. So, that's a potential small problem.

Floor

This guy appears to be a high floor HS pitcher if they ever existed. There's always questions about translating to pros with command and change ups. But, velocity plays. Left-handed plays. Hammer curve's play. As a major leaguer, I see a floor as middle reliever.

Ceiling

Front-line starter. Lefties that throw 96 with hammer curves don't grow on trees. You add in what is "projected" to be an at least average change up, and you have a guy who can anchor a rotation.

Projected Draft Round

Top 5 pick. It's going to happen. Top three is all but a sure thing. It's actually very likely he'll go number one overall.

College Commitment: UCLA

Will he sign?

You normally hear a lot about whether or not the top high school kids will sign. I haven't heard much talk about that with Aiken or with Tyler Kolek. That leads to a heavy assumption that yes, he will. For how much is a different question. A lot are assuming he will sign for a discount.

Bibliography

Video from 2014

Video from 2013

Minor League Ball

He has a very easy, athletic delivery. He throws with from a ¾ delivery and repeats it well. His arm angle doesn't work ideally for a curveball but it still is a great pitch. Last summer, I saw him 88-91 topping out at 92 projecting more. His long list of accomplishments was impressive and there was obvious potential but I didn't see him as an elite prospect. This spring he has been throwing 92-94 and hitting 97. No projection needed. He looks to have trained harder over the winter and is this has everyone excited about how good he could be.

His breaking ball is 73-75 with hard downward break. It has good shape and is fairly consistent. It gets better break than I would expect considering his arm angle. He may be better off throwing it harder and throwing more of a slider in the future but as long as he stays on top of it, it isn't necessary. It still could be a plus pitch.

His change was in the 81-83 range. He throws it with good arm speed and it has good fade. His ability to locate it adds to its potential. It could be a plus pitch as well.

Big League Futures

Tournament of Stars Summer 2013: from Don Olsen

Picked up a bit of weight and looks about 200-205 pounds, maybe a little more projection left. He is showing less shoulder tilt and better command, but still leaks up hand side as a result of rushing himself. The FB was 88-91(93) that was showing natural tail from his slot. The pitch was showing more backspin; saw the ability to change eye levels, showing some swing/miss in the offering. His CH was 81-82 mph and flashed better depth and fade, diving down and willingness to work it around, kept it down, solid projectable pitch. The CV, 71-73 mph, flashed some above average with solid rotation, shape, and willingness to work both sides of the plate with it. Rounding out a solid 3 pitch mix and showing day one ability, if the progression continues.

National High School Invitational Spring 2013: from Don Olsen

Ideal frame, sloped shoulders, solid development that could put on another 10-15 pounds. He throws out a bit of the Cliff Lee type mold. Fastball was 87-90 (91) mph. He showed good 3/4 slot, natural tailing action on 2S. CH, 76-78 mph, with fade, flashes above average ability and could reach plus. The CV has decent shape considering the slot, nice rotation that could give him an above average offering down the road. His pitchability is off the charts, with the willingness to work off change, throws the curve and change in any situation.

Keith Law

Aiken showed four distinct pitches Tuesday, two of them plus. His fastball was 91-95 for the first few innings, dipping as low as 89 in the fifth right before he exited the game -- normal for a pitcher making just his second start of the spring. His curveball was 76-78 mph with angle and depth; he threw it for strikes, he buried it in the dirt to try to get hitters to chase, and he threw it down and in to punch out a right-handed hitter. Aiken's changeup was also above-average, mostly around 82 mph with good arm speed, and he mixed in a low-80s cutter (up to 85 mph) because, well, why the heck not.

And so much more...Just google his name and you'll find pages of stuff.

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