SECAUCUS, N.J. — The Houston Astros had the No. 1 pick again, and this time, they took a pitcher polished beyond his years.
California high school left-hander Brady Aiken was the first selection in the Major League Baseball draft Thursday night.
“It’s the most advanced high school pitcher I’ve ever seen in my entire career,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “He has command like I’ve never seen before of his stuff.”
The 17-year-old from San Diego’s Cathedral Catholic High School is just the third prep pitcher to be selected first overall, joining fellow lefties Brien Taylor (1991, Yankees) and David Clyde (1973, Rangers).
The Miami Marlins made it the first time high school pitchers were the top two picks in the draft when they selected Tyler Kolek, a hard-throwing right-hander from Shepherd High School in Texas.
The Astros are the first team to select first in three consecutive drafts, having picked shortstop Carlos Correa in 2012 and right-hander Mark Appel last year. Aiken is in line to receive a huge contract. The allotted slot bonus for the top pick is nearly $8 million.
“Unbelievable. It’s really a dream come true,” Aiken said. “This is something that I’ve wanted ever since I was a young kid. I’m at a loss for words. This is my dream and it’s finally starting to come true.”
Aiken is also the first high school lefty to be drafted in the first five picks since Adam Loewen went fourth overall to Baltimore in 2002. The UCLA recruit, who compared himself to Clayton Kershaw and David Price, has terrific control of a fastball that hits 96-97 mph, a knee-buckling curve and a tough changeup that sits in the low- to mid-80s.
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