Welcome to my second post taking a look at the St. Louis Cardinals’ first-round options in the upcoming June MLB Draft. If you are just catching this today and did not see my first post about why the Cardinals should draft Chris Betts, be sure to check it out.
Today, we take a look at a player that could potentially wind up being a game-changer for the Cardinals in Brady Aiken. Aiken, in case you don’t know, hails from Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego, California.
If he sounds familiar, that would be because he was the first pick of the 2014 MLB Draft by the Houston Astros and, at first, was offered a hefty signing bonus, but upon realization that Aiken had a smaller UCL in his pitching elbow, the offer was altered.
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Obviously, this rubbed both Aiken and his adviser, Casey Close, the wrong way – and the two sides never came to terms ahead of the July 18 deadline.
This March, the unthinkable happened.
Aiken tore his UCL in his pitching arm and was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery. Before the injury and surgery, according to a Baseball Prospectus report, Aiken boasted a fastball that sat between 92-96 mph, a curveball that he could throw consistently for strikes in the low 80s, a low-80s changeup that wasn’t an impact pitch and a cutter that he had been toying around with.
The thing that impressed scout Ron Shah is that he displayed “strong command of his lethal four-pitch arsenal and pitchability beyond his years”.
There is no doubt that Aiken is stud pitching prospect and, for me, the fact that he has already had Tommy John surgery is more of an assurance of his health and makes him less of an injury risk as far as his elbow goes.
If you look back at the Cardinals’ method of drafting the past few years, they have gone by the motto of taking the best player available on the board. They used that motto when they took Michael Wacha in 2012 and Luke Weaver last year.
So, if Brady Aiken is staring Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa in the face on June 10, the motto suggests the left-hander is a St. Louis Cardinal. Looking through the mock drafts online, most have Aiken going as late as 24th to the Los Angeles Dodgers. So, again it seems like yet another top pitcher could fall to the Cardinals.
Now, the Cardinals are pitching-rich and everyone knows it.
Former top prospects Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez already in the big league rotation. Waiting for their shot in the minors in no particular order are Marco Gonzales, Jack Flaherty, Luke Weaver, Alex Reyes, Austin Gomber and Rob Kaminsky – with most of them being former first-round draft picks themselves.
Motor City Bengals
The team is set when it comes to pitching but you hear it every year, “You can never have too much pitching” and when Brady Aiken is on the board he absolutely has to be taken regardless of the organization’s depth.
There can be trades made to acquire the offensive depth the club needs (see Jason Heyward deal this offseason) and the Cardinals have the money to take on a free agent or two – especially with all the money they are saving in the pitching department.
Drafting Aiken might not go along with the organizational needs or be what we all expect when it comes to the draft but it will be an absolute steal and the best pick of the first round if it happens.
Can Aiken slide all the way to the Cardinals at #23?