What to Expect From Aiken
Brady Aiken was the number one overall pick in 2014 and had he signed likely would have been named the second best prospect in a loaded Astros farm system behind super prospect Carlos Correa. However, he didn’t sign and ended up needing Tommy John surgery this past March, which helped him slide to the Indians this year. He’s now a hard guy to place as one could easily argue that a healthy/pre-TJ Brady Aiken would be the number one prospect in this system. But even though Tommy John surgery is common practice now there’s still no guarantee he comes back as good. That said, I’m still a huge believer in that arm and personally had trouble putting him only third on my list (I nearly put him first). He’s got true Ace potential, which is not something many prospects can truly lay claim too.
I’ve dropped this name a few times in talking about Aiken but Lucas Giolito is a guy I think fans should look at when thinking about how good Aiken can be. Giolito was considered one of the best prospects in the 2012 MLB draft; however, during his senior year he had some elbow issues, which caused him to fall to 16th to the Washington Nationals. Shortly after being drafted he was shut-down and had Tommy John surgery. Between 2012 and 2013 he threw only 38.2 innings as a pro. In 2014, the Nationals were conservative with him (only 98 innings) but he flashed that greatness that scouts loved. Struck out over 10 per nine innings with a 2.20 ERA and 3.17 FIP. Moved up in 2015 and while the Nationals have still used baby gloves with him he’s now considered the best pitching prospect in baseball (per Baseball America) as he’s struck out over 11 per nine innings with a 2.83 ERA and 1.80 FIP.
Aiken and Giolito are obviously not the same person. Just because Giolito came back and has proved scouts right doesn’t mean that Aiken will. However, given modern medicine Giolito’s career track is something that I do not think is unrealistic with Aiken. Aiken will not throw a pitch for the Indians until next spring but he should still be on a similar career track as Giolito was. Indians will likely play it safe with Aiken to start but we’ve seen them be aggressive with pitchers in the past (see Danny Salazar) so while 2018 may be a bit of a stretch with Aiken, 2019 likely isn’t. He could be ready to take over the mantle of Ace from Corey Kluber as his contract extension is winding down…
Next: The Naquin Factor