BY ROB LEDONNE
Earlier this month, the NFL (National Football League) held its annual draft of new talent, drawing a plethora of attention, discussion, and celebration. Next up, the MLB (Major League Baseball) gets it’s turn during the first week of June to announce the future of dozens of hopeful young players vying for a shot to play professional baseball. After years of preparation and scouting, it’s a big moment for the top prospects in the sport from across the United States to hear if their names are called and to see if they can become the future of the league. One such prospect is Cathedral Catholic High School’s very own Brady Aiken, a left-handed pitcher for the school’s baseball team who (as of press time) is projected to be the number one pick by a consensus of draft experts.
“It’s been a goal since I was little to get drafted and play professional baseball,” said Aiken of his status as the top baseball prospect in the country. “Everything I’ve done (throughout my life) has helped me get where I am today.”
That includes equal parts of both hard work and talent, which have come together to make Aiken not only the best player in Southern California, but the entire United States. “The whole experience throughout my senior year and last summer has been fun, but it’s been especially hectic these past few months,” he said. “We’ve met with every team and talked to a lot of the people (about where I could go). As we get closer to the draft, it’s getting nerve-wracking for my family.”
By all accounts, Aiken’s future looks bright to say the least. Being the number one prospect has dozens of world-renowned teams considering Aiken for a spot that could turn the current high school senior into a nationally-known sports star.
“I first realized I could go onto something bigger in baseball when I made the 14 and under USA team,” Aiken remembers. “We traveled to Nicaragua, and that was a turning point when I realized I was gifted enough to play with some of the best players in the country. That whole trip was an unbelievable experience.”
Holding onto the number one draft spot is the latest in a long line of accomplishments Aiken has achieved. Most recently, he won USA Baseball’s prestigious International Performance of the Year Award for his play on the field, which helped the United States team clinch the gold medal in last September’s Baseball World Cup in Taiwan. During his most notable game there, he struck out 10 opposing players and allowed just one run in seven innings.
On draft day this year, the Houston Astros, Miami Marlins, and Chicago White Sox have the top three picks when it comes to choosing players, so Aiken has a solid chance to play for any of those teams.
“It all depends on how well I do before the draft, and what teams would be interested in me in the first place. Any team that would draft me, I’d be honored to get to play for them,” Aiken said. However, if something unforeseen happens, Aiken said he received a scholarship to play for UCLA come the fall. “Until the day comes and a team actually drafts me and offers me money, I’m going to UCLA,” he said.
For now, Aiken is still just another senior at Cathedral Catholic waiting for graduation and thinking about his future — except the MLB, ESPN and other national media outlets are thinking about it too.
“A couple of the kids like to joke around with me,” Aiken said of his star status. “It’s really good for (the Cathedral Catholic baseball team) since this keeps them on their toes at all times and helps the team in general since everyone is coming to watch them. It makes everyone a better player in the long run.”
Cutting through all of the hype, getting drafted in June would only be the start of another set of tests for Aiken, which would begin in the minor leagues where good players typically last for around five years before making the majors. Though for one of the most exciting prospects in recent memory, Aiken is currently taking it one day at a time.
“I was invited to go to New York where the draft is taking place, but we’re not going to do that,” he said. “I still have the CIF playoffs here, so I wanted to stay local and be with my immediate family. On draft day, I’ll be watching TV with my family and my phone on, hoping my name gets called.”