HOUSTON -- For the second time in three years, the Astros selected a 17-year-old with the top pick in the First-Year Player Draft.
The Astros on Thursday tabbed left-handed pitcher Brady Aiken from Central Catholic High School in San Diego with the top pick, making it the second year in a row the club took a pitcher with the first selection. They took Stanford right-hander Mark Appel with the top pick last year and Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa with the No. 1 pick in 2012.
They also have the Nos. 37 and 42 picks on Day 1.
Aiken, 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, is polished for his age, with a complete repertoire of pitches, and the command needed to locate each one. He also has the smarts to work through a lineup multiple times, and the resolve to make sure he isn't satisfied with marginal successes.
"Brady has a very unique combination of amazing talent that gets demonstrated every time he pitches, and a great head on his shoulders," Gary Remiker, Aiken's high school coach, told MLB.com recently. "He's handled all the attention and the pressure as good as I've ever seen a 17-year-old kid handle it."
The top pick comes with an allotted bonus value of $7,922,100.
Aiken has developed one of the best curveballs in the Draft to complement a fastball that tops out at 98 mph. Aiken keeps the curveball tight, with a late, sharp bite, making it almost impossible to hit when located. His command is on point, too.
"It's the velocity on the radar gun that gets the scouts to show up and gets their attention," Remiker said. "But I really think what separates him is his ability to command the strike zone, to change speeds."
The 2014 First-Year Player Draft runs through Saturday, with the top 74 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days will begin with a live Draft show at 11:30 a.m. CT on Friday.