The Indians knew they were going to have to be patient when they selected lefthander Brady Aiken with the 17th overall pick in the 2015 draft.
Two years later, they remain patient because results had not materialized.
Aiken’s search for the velocity and electric stuff he showed as a San Diego high school senior in 2014, when he was selected No. 1 overall by the Astros, continued this year at low Class A Lake County.
Aiken’s backstory is well known, from the impasse in negotiations with Houston to Tommy John surgery in March 2015 while attending the post-graduate program at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., to being selected in the first round by Cleveland three months after surgery.
Through 80.1 pro innings, Aiken had run up a 5.27 ERA. He went 1-6, 4.50 through seven starts in the Midwest League this year, while averaging 7.4 walks per nine innings.
Coming out of high school, Aiken’s fastball topped out at 97 mph, but at Lake County that fastball failed to climb out of the 80s.
“We’re not concerned about his velocity,” said Matt Blake, the assistant director of player development for pitchers. “He’s obviously not where he was (pre-surgery), but it takes time. Everybody’s different.”
The 20-year-old Aiken’s makeup continues to draw rave reviews from the Indians, and that makeup was being tested.
“It’s frustrating. It would be for anyone,” Blake said. “But he’s very level-headed. He’s handled the pressure of who he is very well.”
In the meantime, Aiken is a marquee name without marquee stats, which can produce a pressure all its own.
“We just want to see Brady become more efficient with his strike-throwing and pitch counts,” Blake said. “He’s a great teammate and a hard worker. There’s still a lot of promise there.”
— Jim Ingraham is a columnist at the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram/Medina Gazette.