JUNE 23: Aiken arrived in Houston today to sign his contract, reports Mark Berman of FOX 26 Sports. Aiken acknowledged to Berman that the deal is done, and he’s set to begin his pro career.
JUNE 7, 7:17pm: The sides are “on the same page” regarding the bonus, though the deal still has pieces left to be negotiated, tweets Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle.
5:24pm: The Astros are in agreement with top overall choice Brady Aiken on a $6.5MM bonus, Jim Callis of MLB.com reports on Twitter. As Callis notes, Aiken — who is advised by Excel Sports Management — ties Jameson Taillon (Pirates, 2010) for the largest-ever bonus agreed to by a high school pitcher.
More importantly for Houston, that number falls well shy of the pick’s allotment of just over $7.9MM, leaving the club with ample additional funds to apply to other draft choices. The rest of the team’s day one haul consisted of seven college juniors, one college senior, a JuCo choice (Brock Dykxhoorn, sixth round), and one high-schooler (Jacob Nix, fifth round). One player who could see some money dangled is Mac Marshall, who appears set to attend LSU but was taken by Houston in the 21st round.
Aiken established a clear consensus as the best overall player heading into the draft, though many have noted the shaky recent history of prep arms chosen at the very top of the draft. Of course, focusing only on the players that happened to go at the top of the draft would mean ignoring success stories like that of Clayton Kershaw, who Aiken seems reasonably comparable to at this (early) stage of his development.
Certainly, draft observers agreed that Aiken was worth the top choice. He landed at the head of the final draft boards of Baseball America, ESPN’s Keith Law, and Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis of MLB.com. Those experts credit him with a heater that ranges into the mid-90s, plus secondary offerings (curve and change), fluid mechanics, and outstanding command.