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Phillies 2014 Draft Preview - Brady Aiken, LHP

I've been a big fan since starting this process in the Fall, however Aiken has improved so dramatically this season that it is highly unlikely he's available at 7. However, he's still worth a look.

Mike Stobe

I predicted Twice that the Phillies would take Brady Aiken with the #7 pick. Once in early to mid-March when I thought it might be a slight reach (in an interview over at Phuture Phillies, the interview having been done maybe a week before the article went up). And again a few weeks late in my predictions for the coming season (this piece was mostly written in February then sat on and updated closer to the season) and at that point it seemed like Aiken was unlikely to still be there at #7. That's how quickly things can change, especially with High Schoolers who are still growing and improving.

There's a ton to love about Aiken, he's a High School Lefty who 3 months ago was known most to scouts for having far advanced pitchability and control, with a middling fastball that showed promise. Then Aiken showed up in 2014 and his Fastball was no longer a middling offering in the high-80's, it was suddenly a beast he could throw low to mid 90's with an ability to rear back and unleash a 97mph Fastball on occasion. Well, now that's much more interesting and it's drawn comparisons to none other than Clayton Kershaw. Aiken is a near finished product for a High Schooler. He may add a few more pounds to a 6'4" 200 lb frame and maybe with it a mile or two on his Fastball, but mid-90's is plenty for a Lefthander.

I'm not going to break down video this time since most videos will be of him in 2013 before the velocity spike and before he made one other significant improvement. Besides his Fastball, Aiken throws two other highly promising pitches: a curveball, which was a bit inconsistent, but has sharp break and which is nearly 20 mph slower than his fastball; and a change-up he throws about 10 mph slower than the fastball and can locate with laser accuracy on the lower corners of the plate. His problem was that he was inconsistent with his mechanics on the Curve and didn't always stay on top, allowing the pitch to hang and his arm speed was noticeably slower on his off speed pitches. Scouting reports this spring report both issues are largely resolved as his arm speed is closer to his Fastball speed and his mechanics have been more consistent on his Curve.

Something else that changed is that for 2 years, the near unanimous opinion was rock solid that Carlos Rodon would be the #1 pick, everyone else was fighting for Second. Half of that is still true, everyone is still fighting for Second, but there's a different Lefty likely locked in as the top pick. Part of this is due to Rodon struggling this year (I have some injury concerns, as the Wolfpack kind of overused Rodon, their only reliable Pitcher last year, on the road to Omaha. He threw several complete games, pitched through the 10th in a game against UNC in the ACC Championship and worked on short rest a few times in Omaha. Rodon has sen his velocity dip 3-4 mph this Spring and his command is not as sharp), but a large part is due to Aiken just blossoming into a true Ace prospect and a kid who could ascend quickly through a system for a High Schooler (it's not a stretch to say he could probably pitch with some success against Major Leaguers with his present stuff).

I have to say an Astros rotation in a few years with Aiken, Appel, Folty, McCullers and whoever the hell you want to stick at 5, well thank god they're in the AL now. I'll finish up with a few videos, but as I said no breakdown since he's changed. All of baseball was in my hometown last week for USA Baseball, so I expect to see more current video of a lot of the HS guys in the next few weeks, I'll post some when available.

Okay, I lied, watch the Catcher's glove in this video, not a lot of movement, he set a target and Aiken pretty reliably send it right to the target (disregard the plunked batter as that is his old Curveball mechanics issue mentioned above).

Mechanics in slo-mo.

A day in the life video (tons of the top draft guys have these if you really find them fascinating).