On Thursday, Brady Aiken became the first player from a private high school to be selected as the top pick in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft since Alex Rodriguez (Westminster Christian in Fla.) in 1993.
The Cathedral Catholic (CA) graduate also became the first prep left handed pitcher to be taken No. 1 overall since Brien Taylor out of East Carteret High School (NC).
In his senior year, Aiken struck out 111 of the 128 batters he faced. He walked just 15 and posted a 1.05 earned run average in just under 60 innings pitched.
Aiken is a tall, lanky lefty standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing just over 200 pounds. His fastball reaches the upper-90s and he is said to be the hardest-throwing high school pitcher, not only in this year's draft, but in recent memory.
Growing up in the San Diego-area, Aiken was surrounded by baseball at a young age. The gorgeous year-round weather presents budding players the opportunity to hone their skills on the diamond whenever the opportunity presents itself.
With threats of rain rarely in the forecast, Aiken and players like him can practice baseball nearly every day and go to PETCO Park to see the San Diego Padres play on a regular basis.
"I watched Tony Gwynn and Trevor Hoffman, and I was a huge Padres fan growing up," Aiken told AJ Cassavell of MLB.com. "When I started playing baseball, it was just one of the things I loved, and I've honestly never wanted to stop playing."
Aiken says he surfs in his spare time, another common pastime on the shores of California.
When he's pitching, Aiken delivers a changeup in the mid-80s, solid curveballs and a swooping cutter.
He went 7-0 with a no-decision in his final year on the prep stage. His high school team is still alive in the playoffs with the hope of a state title.
After that, though, his focuses will be turning to winning a World Series. The Astros are one eight teams without a championship to their name. The Seattle Mariners, Milwaukee Brewers, Washington Nationals, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, Colorado Rockies and Padres join Houston as the only Commissioner's Trophy-lacking clubs.
The Astros advanced to only one World Series (2005). There, they were swept by the Chicago White Sox.
The 2014 Draft marked the third year in a row where Houston has earned the No. 1 overall pick. In 2012, they chose Carlos Correa. The Puerto Rico-native is currently playing with the Lancaster JetHawks in the Class-A Advanced California League.
Last year, they chose Mark Appel. The Stanford graduate spurned the Detroit Tigers when they drafted him in 2009 and turned down the Pittsburgh Pirates when they picked him in the first round in 2012.
Appel finally settled with the Astros in 2013. He is currently teammates with Correa in Lancaster.
Within a few years, Aiken will join Appel in the Houston starting rotation. With Correa supporting them up the middle at shortstop, the Astros have potential to win that first World Series.
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