Choosing which school to play for collegiately can be difficult for some high school athletes.
Brady Aiken had already signed with UCLA. Then he made national headlines when his name was called first in the 2014 MLB draft on Thursday night.
"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 the first high school pitcher to be selected No. 1 overall since 1991. He joins only two other left-handed pitchers to be the top overall draft pick — the most recent being one of Aiken’s role models, Tampa Bay’s David Price.
With a fastball reaching the upper-90s, the 17-year-old southpaw out of San Diego, California, was the nation’s top prospect and had been projected to go No. 1 heading into the draft. While his darting fastball commanded plenty of attention, his curveball and consistency on the mound created the complete package.
"He has everything going for him in terms of his size, delivery, his repertoire, his pitchability,” Astros scouting director Mike Elias told MLB.com. “I think most importantly, what Brady's made of is a big reason why he was our pick today.”
The Houston Astros, who have had top pick for three straight years, had been scouting Aiken for several years, watching him develop into an outstanding high school athlete.
Aiken caught the attention of major league scouts last year when he threw for USA's 18-and-under World Cup team. In both games Aiken started, he picked up the W, including the championship against Japan. His success earned him 2013 International Performance of the Year honors.
During his senior year at Cathedral Catholic High School, Aiken notched a 7-0 record with a 1.06 ERA. He was named to the first team All-Region in California 2014 Perfect Game first team All-American.
"This is 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.''
That’s a bold statement, especially for someone coming out of this draft class. Twenty pitchers were taken in the first round, half of them drafted out of high school. Tyler Kolek, a right-handed pitcher from Shepherd High School in Texas, was taken second overall by the Miami Marlins.
Photo: Larry Goren/Four Seam Images via AP Images
Seventeen-year-old Brady Aiken goes No. 1 in MLB draft