SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) — The Houston Astros selected California high school pitcher Brady Aiken with the No. 1 pick in the Major League Baseball draft Thursday night.
The polished left-hander 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).
Aiken is also the first high school lefty to be drafted in the first five picks since Adam Loewen went fourth overall to Baltimore in 2002. The UCLA recruit 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 Astros are the first team to select first in three consecutive drafts, having picked shortstop Carlos Correa in 2012 and right-hander Mark Appel last year.
With the second pick, Miami took hard-throwing Texas high school pitcher Tyler Kolek. The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder from Shepherd High School 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.
He followed up a dominant sophomore year — 10-3, 2.99 ERA, 184 strikeouts and 45 walks in 132 1/3 innings — with a solid but not spectacular junior campaign: 6-7, 2.01, 117 Ks, 31 BBs in 98 2-3 innings. Rodon has a fastball that sits in the mid- to low-90s, but gets up to 96-97 mph, and a devastating slider that sits in the mid-80s.
Indiana 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.
He has a powerful bat from the left side of plate, hitting .358 with 14 homers and 48 RBIs and a .659 slugging percentage while leading the Hoosiers to the NCAA tournament. Schwarber’s stock rose drastically in the last few weeks as he hit .469 with four HRs and 12 RBIs in the Big Ten tournament and NCAA regionals.
The draft, which is held over three days and 40 rounds, started with the first two rounds at MLB Network Studio.