Picking first for the third year in a row, the Astros went where no team leading off the draft had gone in over 20 years, making high school left-hander Brady Aiken the first overall pick in the 2014 draft.
Aiken is the first prep pitcher taken No. 1 overall since the Yankees went with left-hander Brien Taylor in 1991. Taylor, who seemed well on his way to justifying the hype initially, famous flamed out after hurting his shoulder in a bar fight.
Aiken follows high school shortstop Carlos Correa (2012) and Stanford right-hander Mark Appel (2013) as No. 1 overall picks to join the Houston farm system, as the Astros became the first team ever to draft first three straight years by virtue of having MLB’s worst record each time. Prior to 2005, that would have been impossible, since it was alternated by year whether the AL’s worst team or the NL’s worst team got the No. 1 pick.
Aiken, 17, is a SoCal native with a 94-97 mph fastball, curve and changeup. He told MLB.com he’s also working on a cutter. “The goal is to just maintain my command and velocity, and hopefully I can work in a fourth pitch like that [cutter],” he said.
The Astros will surely go slowly with Aiken, and it’s doubtful he’ll reach the majors prior to 2017 even if everything goes as hoped.
A brutal couple of updates on the night of Jose Fernandez’s death from Jeff Passan of Yahoo and from Andre Fernandez of the Miami Herald.
Passan reports on the leadup to the fateful boat trip. About how a friend of one of the other men killed on the boat had pleaded with him not to go out in the dark. Then there’s this:
After Saturday’s game, Fernandez had asked a number of teammates to join him on the boat. One by one, they declined.
Marcell Ozuna was one of them. Andre Fernandez of the Miami Herald reports:
Following Monday’s game, Ozuna said he turned down an invitation from Fernandez after Saturday night’s game to go out with him and join him for a spin on his boat . . . “That night I told him, ‘Don’t go out,’” Ozuna said. “Everybody knew he was crazy about that boat and loved being out on the water. I told him I couldn’t go out that night because I had the kids and my wife waiting for me.
Losing a friend and teammate under such circumstances is brutal enough. Adding on survivor’s guilt would be close to impossible to bear.
David Ortiz has used Derek Jeter’s Player’s Tribune as his personal podium all year as he says goodbye to the Major Leagues. He continues that today, on the eve of his final series against the Yankees.
In it Ortiz talks about what playing the Yankees meant to him over the course of his career. About how the fan hate was real but something he embraced. About how the series back in the days of Jeter and Pettitte and Mariano and Mussina were “wars.” He also talks about how the Yankees were basically everything when he was growing up in the Dominican Republic. The only caps and shirts you saw were Yankees shirts and how they were about the only team you could see on TV there. As such, coming to Boston and then playing against the Yankees was a big, big deal.
Ortiz says “[s]ome players are born to be Yankees, you know what I’m saying? I was born to play against the Yankees.”
And he’ll get to do it only three more times.