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Astros make high schooler Aiken top pick in MLB Draft

<p>It had been 23 years since a high school pitcher was taken with the first overall pick in Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft.</p>

Secaucus, NJ (SportsNetwork.com) - It had been 23 years since a high school pitcher was taken with the first overall pick in Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft.

The Houston Astros ended that drought on Thursday when they chose San Diego prep left-hander Brady Aiken with their third straight No. 1 overall pick.

They'll be hoping Aiken has more success than the last high school pitcher to go No. 1, when the New York Yankees selected fellow southpaw Brien Taylor with the top pick in 1991. Taylor, though, is regarded as one of the bigger busts in draft history and is one of just three top selections to never appear in a major league game.

Aiken becomes just the fifth left-handed pitcher selected first overall in the draft and the first since David Price was selected by Tampa Bay first overall in 2007.

Two months shy of his 18th birthday, Aiken, who is also the first high school lefty to go in the top five since 2002, has been on scouts' radars for a while, but jumped to the top of most draft boards this spring thanks to a fastball that jumped to 97 mph. He struck out 111 of the 228 batters he faced as a senior at Cathedral Catholic High, walking 15 and registering a 1.06 ERA in 59 2/3 innings.

Aiken led Team USA to the gold medal at the 18-and-under World Cup in Taiwan last September by winning both of his starts, including a championship-game performance against Japan in which he struck out 10 and allowed one run in seven innings.

"We've been following Brady Aiken for a while now and we feel that he is a young, dynamic, high-upside, left-handed pitcher," said Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow. "I couldn't be more excited for the Houston Astros and their future by adding this player to what already is a very strong system."

The 6-foot-4 Aiken also appealed to the Astros thanks to his willingness to accept a bonus under the $7.92 million slot, which would allow the team to spend more on other picks.

Thanks to its 51-111 finish a year ago, Houston earned the dubious distinction of becoming the first team to hold three straight No. 1 overall picks. The Astros also became just the third team to hold the top pick on five different occasions, joining the New York Mets and San Diego Padres.

Houston chose Stanford righty Mark Appel No. 1 last year after it took high school shortstop Carlos Correa first in 2012. The Astros also selected third baseman Phil Nevin first back in 1992 and made left-hander Floyd Bannister the No. 1 pick in 1976.

Miami picked another high schooler second, Texas righty Tyler Kolek, who is regarded as the hardest thrower in this class, but not quite as polished as North Carolina State lefty Carlos Rodon, who went to the Chicago White Sox at No. 3.

The Cubs followed with a surprise by taking Indiana catcher Kyle Schwarber fourth and Minnesota rounded out the top-5 by choosing high school shortstop Nick Gordon, who is the son of former major leaguer, Tom, and the brother of current Los Angeles Dodgers infielder, Dee.

California high school slugger Alex Jackson, who many consider to be the best power bat in this draft, went sixth to the Seattle Mariners before the Philadelphia Phillies took Louisiana State right-hander Aaron Nola. Colorado then chose Evansville lefty Kyle Freeland and with the first of its two first round picks, Toronto nabbed East Carolina righty Jeff Hoffman, whose senior season was cut short due to Tommy John surgery.

The New York Mets then completed the top-10 by choosing Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto.

With the 11th pick the Blue Jays chose Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost. This was a compensation pick for the team failing to sign Phillip Bickford, their top pick last year.

The Milwaukee Brewers then chose lefty Kodi Medeiros, who became the first Hawaiian prep player to be taken in the first two rounds of the Draft since 2001, at No. 12.

North Carolina shortstop Trea Turner went 13th to the San Diego Padres, while the San Francisco Giants chose Vanderbilt righty Tyler Beede with the 14th overall pick. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim then selected left-hander Sean Newcomb from Hartford before Arizona chose Coral Springs Christian Academy right-hander Touki Toussaint at No. 16.

A trio of college pitchers went next, as Kansas City grabbed Texas Christian lefty Brandon Finnegan, Washington chose UNLV righty Erik Fedde and Cincinnati tabbed Virginia right-hander Nick Howard.

Wichita State first baseman Casey Gillaspie went No. 20 to Tampa Bay followed by San Francisco University outfielder Bradley Zimmer, who went to the Cleveland Indians. The Los Angeles Dodgers then made South Carolina high schooler Grant Holmes the 22nd overall selection.

California high school outfielder Derek Hill went to Detroit at No. 23, Pittsburgh chose another prep player, shortstop Cole Tucker from Mountain Pointe High School at 24, and Oakland picked Cal State Fullerton third baseman Matt Chapman with the 25th pick.

The defending world champion Boston Red Sox then selected versatile infielder Michael Chavis before St. Louis picked Florida State righty Luke Weaver.

Kansas City then used the 27th pick on Florida high school lefty Foster Griffin as compensation for losing Ervin Santana. The Reds followed by grabbing Stanford infielder Alex Blandino and the Texas Rangers chose California high school righty Luis Ortiz at No. 30.

Cincinnati's pick was for losing Shin-Soo Choo, while the Rangers' selection was for Nelson Cruz signing in Baltimore.

Tennessee prep southpaw Justice Sheffield went to Cleveland as compensation for Ubaldo Jimenez, while Atlanta nabbed North Carolina high schooler Braxton Davidson for Brian McCann signing with the Yankees. Boston and St. Louis closed out the Round One festivities by choosing a pair of high school righties, Michael Kopech and Jack Flaherty, respectively. The Red Sox' pick was a compensatory one for Jacoby Ellsbury and the Cards' selection was for the loss of Carlos Beltran.

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