The 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. 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 Shepherd High School in Texas.
Aiken 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 of his stuff.”
Aiken 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. His draft stock rose late last year when he struck out 10 in a gold medal- winning performance against Japan in the 18-and-under World Cup.
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Kolek has a fastball that sits in the high-90s and touched 100-102 mph several times, causing many to compare him to some fellow Texas flamethrowers such as Nolan Ryan, Kerry Wood and Josh Beckett.
The Chicago White Sox selected North Carolina State left-hander Carlos Rodon with the third overall pick. The 6-3, 235-pound junior was widely regarded as the top college pitcher available in the draft and had been in the mix to go No. 1 overall.
Indiana left-handed slugging catcher Kyle Schwarber went No. 4 overall to the Chicago Cubs as the first position player selected. The Hoosiers star is a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award as the best catcher in Division I, although he could move to third base or the outfield in the pros.
Nick Gordon, the son of former big leaguer Tom Gordon and brother of the Dodgers’ Dee Gordon, went fifth overall to Minnesota. The 6-2, 170-pound Gordon, from Olympia High School in Orlando, Florida, is an outstanding defensive player with a pro future as a five-tool shortstop.
Clearing the bases
Rangers right-hander Tanner Scheppers has been recalled from an injury rehab assignment, and is going back to the bullpen. … The Rays held a moment of silence for Don Zimmer before Thursday’s game against Miami. Zimmer spent 66 years in pro baseball and died Wednesday at 83. … The Rockies placed right-hander Jordan Lyles on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured left hand. … Starter Mat Latos might make one more start in the minors before the Reds will consider activating him and bringing their rotation back to full strength.