The Houston Astros had the No. 1 pick in the draft 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 from Shepherd High 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.”
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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.
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.
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.
“How do you pass up a guy throwing 100?” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “It’s a big, old country strong right-hander.”
The draft, which is held over three days and 40 rounds, started with the first two rounds Thursday.
• The Tampa Bay 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. He had been in a Florida rehab center since heart surgery in mid-April.
• The Colorado Rockies placed right-hander Jordan Lyles on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured left hand. The 23-year-old Lyles is 5-1 this season with a 3.52 ERA.
• The Yankees reinstated Carlos Beltran from the 15-day disabled list and put him into the starting lineup against Oakland. The switch-hitting Beltran has a bone spur in his right elbow. He is hitting .234 with five home runs and 15 RBI this season.
• Red Sox hitting coach Greg Colbrunn was hospitalized in Cleveland for further evaluation because of bleeding between the brain and the thin tissues that cover it. The 44-year-old Colbrunn was admitted on Wednesday night after experiencing dizziness before a game. Colbrunn played 13 seasons in the majors, including one with Seattle in 2003.