Brady Aiken, LHP, Cardiff by the Sea, CA High School
Aiken is a well-proportioned 6'4", 205 LB lefty. Last year at this time I would have said he is very projectable but at this point, he has toned up and added some muscle. Less projection is needed and he is closer to a finished product. This reduces risk and increases his value. He still looks like he could add 10-15 pounds or so and have a near ideal pitchers frame.
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.
Last summer, the potential was obvious but he looked like a guy who should go in the late first round in this draft. He looked like a guy who should gain velocity but even if he didn't, he had stuff and polish to be a major league arm. With the velocity increase this spring, the existing polish and command and the improvement in his conditioning, you have to look at him as a contender for a top 10 pick in this draft and there will be occasional comments that he could be the first pick in the draft. Comparisons to Cliff Lee and Clayton Kershaw will be heard. These are not foolish but would be the high end of his potential. Recent picks like Max Fried and Ian Clarkin are more vague but work to give you an idea of the talent. Considering the talent available in this draft and if the velocity increase stays where it is until June, he could be a top 5 pick but should be gone by the middle of the first round no matter what, barring injury. He is committed to UCLA but I don't think that will play any role in his future.