Sunday, November 9, 2014

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Brady Aiken

Well, this is awkward!  Brady Aiken is listed as BA's #2 draft prospect for the 2015 draft.  The #2 pick is held by the Houston Astros, a compensation pick for failing to sign Aiken who they made the #1 overall pick in 2014.  I think we can rest assured that Aiken is not going to be the second overall draft pick in 2015 or #5 which is the Astros regular 2015 pick!

As you may recall, Aiken was the HS LHP who had everything: size, velocity, command, secondary stuff.  Houston took him #1 overall and verbally agreed to a signing bonus of $6.5 M pending a physical.  The physical included an MRI of his elbow which showed something the Astros management did not like.  We still do not know what it showed due to confidentiality issues.  The Astros lowered their offer to $3.1 M which is the minimum they could offer and still get a compensation pick if he did not sign.  A firestorm of criticism erupted.  Aiken did not respond to the new offer.  The Astros were planning to use the difference between their slot cap and Aiken's actual bonus to sign two other HS pitchers drafted later, Jacob Nix and Mac Marshall.  If Aiken did not sign at all, the Astros would lose their entire first round slot cap allotment and would not have the money to sign Nix or Marshall, let along both.  As the signing deadline approached, they upped their offer to Aiken to $5 M but got no response.  They ended up not signing any of Aiken, Nix or Marshall.

I did a Google search on Aiken to see what he is doing now.  I was not able to find a definitive answer.  It seems he will most likely play JC ball this spring and re-enter the draft.  There is some question about whether he has forfeited his college eligibility by being too closely involved with his "advisor" Casey Close.  Playing indy ball this spring is also an option.

The whole fiasco raises some interesting questions for Aiken, the Astros and for "advisors".  What was on the MRI that spooked the Astros?  If it was so bad, why did they increase their offer to $5 M, just $1.5 M less than the handshake agreement?  Were they really willing to blow up not just the Aiken signing but also 2 others for just $1.5 M?  If you are Aiken, what do you tell prospective drafting teams before this draft?  How do you know which teams to disclose the information too?  If you are a GM, do you take a first round risk on a guy who has that history no matter how good he currently is?  If you are an "advisor" do you advise your advisees to not sign with the Astros in order to avoid the future financial damage a "flunked" physical could do, or do you trust that the Astros indeed found something significant and the whole thing was a fluke that is unlikely to happen again?

Speculation points to a possible congenitally small UCL as the cause for the Astros' concern.  If there is evidence linking small UCL's to a higher risk of UCL rupture, would there be a possible role for prophylactic or preventative Tommy John surgery to bolster the ligament?

It will be interesting to see who drafts Brady Aiken in the upcoming draft, assuming he does not show up pitching for UCLA in the spring and re-enters the draft, and what information we learn about what caused the Astros to bail on their agreed contract with him in the 2014 draft cycle.

1 comment:

  1. Really interesting back story, there. Thanks for sharing that Doc.