Astros 2014 top Draft selection leaves first start of season after 13 pitches
By Adam Berry
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Left-hander Brady Aiken, the No. 1 pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, exited his first start for IMG Academy on Thursday with a trainer after throwing only 13 pitches.
Aiken, who didn't sign with the Astros last year after they selected him first overall, recorded only two outs in the first inning. He had thrown two pitches to the Ontario Blue Jays' cleanup hitter when an IMG Academy coach came out to the mound to check on him, followed shortly by a team trainer.
After some discussion, Aiken threw a few warmup pitches and walked back to the dugout. It wasn't clear what caused Aiken to leave the game, and the school did not provide an update on Aiken's condition Thursday evening.
Thursday was Aiken's first chance to pitch in front of scouts since last May. More than 50 scouts and evaluators came out to watch him pitch for IMG Academy's post-graduate team.
The IMG Academy is a multisport training and education complex in Bradenton, Fla., and its high school baseball program has produced big leaguers J.R. Murphy and Tyler Pastornicky. By opting to pitch at IMG, Aiken made himself eligible for the 2015 Draft. Had he attended a four-year college, he wouldn't have been able to re-enter the Draft until 2017.
The crowd of scouts surrounded Aiken as he warmed up in the bullpen beyond the right-field fence, and they flooded into the stands to watch his unexpectedly abbreviated outing. Aiken's fastball clocked in around 91-92 mph on scouts' radar guns before he left the game.
It's not the first time injury concerns have come up with Aiken this spring, either. He had to cut short his final bullpen session before reporting to IMG Academy due to tightness in his left forearm.
Facing the Ontario Blue Jays on Thursday, Aiken threw seven of his 13 pitches for strikes. The Jays' leadoff man lined a double off him to the center-field fence. The second batter popped up a bunt for Aiken's first out. Aiken got Ontario's No. 3 hitter to swing and miss at a curveball for his first strikeout.
Aiken is ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the No. 3 prospect in the 2015 Draft, and he would likely once again be a candidate for the top pick if he's healthy and pitching well.
Picked out of San Diego's Cathedral Catholic High School, Aiken agreed to a $6.5 million bonus with the Astros, but the club was concerned about his left elbow after he underwent a physical. He later declined a $5 million offer and became only the third No. 1 overall pick to not sign.
Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.