Like my piece from two weeks ago, this one contains notes from the desert backfields of Extended Spring Training. Of note today: the professional debut of Brady Aiken. Appearances by Tim Lincecum, Huston Street and Dakota Chalmers serve your main side dish.
Brady Aiken, LHP, Cleveland Indians
Current Level: Extended Spring Training, Age: 19.3, Height/Weight: 6’4/225
Drafted: First round of 2015, 17th overall, signed for $2.5 mil
You should all know Aiken’s backstory by now (drafted by Houston, unsigned, Tommy John surgery, drafted by Cleveland), so let’s cut right to the chase and talk about the stuff. Aiken was 89-92 mph, with just decent arm acceleration and a bit of effort, though less of both than he had in high school. The fastball was quite straight and the kids at the White Sox’ Extended camp slapped it around. Aiken’s curveball has retained its impressive pre-surgery shape and depth. It bent in between 76 and 80 mph and a few of them were above average. The changeup (Aiken threw two, one at 85 and one at 86) was firm and below average, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect much more from a pitch so dependent on feel and release at this point in his rehab. Aiken will likely spend some time here in Arizona for Rookie-level ball before he heads to an affiliate, if he does at all. There’s no reason to draw conclusions based on how he looked, especially with so many opportunities for evaluation ahead, so keep in mind that this is just a snapshot of where things are at right now.
As you can see from the video, Aiken has become rather large. He’s listed at 205 pounds, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s pushing 230 right now. Whether that’s good or bad or anything at all is hard to say. Aiken was a workout warrior in high school (crossfit, box jumps, etc.) so it’s possible this is new found beef was added intentionally. It’s just one more thing to monitor throughout the summer. Aiken’s delivery in high school had, in my opinion, better pacing and balance and was generally more athletic and had less recoil than what he showed on Saturday.