Last year’s first-overall draft pick, left-hander Brady Aiken, didn’t come to terms with the Astros because of a difference regarding what the physical showed about the condition of his elbow, despite being healthy at the time. Aiken went to IMG’s Post-Grad team this spring, but only threw a handful of pitches before he left his first game with an elbow injury, eventually leading to Tommy John surgery weeks later.
Since the failure of Aiken and Houston to reach an agreement, there’s been lots of buzz as to what the latter saw in that physical, since they’re the only team to have seen it. The most common rumors are unusual situations with the size of Aiken’s UCL, the blood flow to that area and the bone structure around the elbow. His draft stock for next week’s draft ranges anywhere from the middle of the first round to the middle of the second round, depending on how much truth there is to these rumors.
A few days ago, the Aiken camp made his medical information available to teams, but with a very rare set of conditions about who can see it. Sources indicate the information is available only to GM-level personnel or higher (who can then distribute it to other decision-makers within the team) and the GM has to make a specific request with Aiken’s camp to see it, which the Aiken camp then has accept.
Normally, this medical information flows freely from players to teams via MLB’s online system and anyone involved with the team that wants to see it can access the information. These controls are in play, according to sources, so that the Aiken’s medical information is only seen by the people who need to see it, reducing the chances that it leaks to the media. After the negative PR for Houston and the Aiken camp last summer, the latter seems focused on controlling the media narrative regarding the 18-year-old’s health.
That puts the reports about this information in an odd light, as teams interested in drafting Aiken who’ve also been granted access to his medical reports now have incentives to leak negative information about the medical to push his price down — while, at the same time, there exists no incentive to leak positive information regarding the medical.
I’ve spoken to a dozen executives with access to the medical, or high-ranking enough to be briefed on the situation, and details are still murky. Execs from three teams told me yesterday that their doctors are still working through the information and they should have an answer in a few days.
One team told me they have requested the medical but haven’t received it yet. Five more execs told me they will see the medical, but either haven’t looked at it yet or haven’t requested it yet, since they’re still stacking their draft board based on talent. Teams often will make adjustments to the board, based on bonus demands and medical information, after they’ve ranked the prospects according to talent.
One exec whose team doesn’t have access to the medical told me that execs from other teams told him it isn’t as bad as expected and that they think Aiken will go in the first round. A few high-ranking executives told me that this is out of their hands: it’s up to the GM and ownership to inform the draft room as to whether Aiken is an option.
Maybe more information will leak and Aiken’s pwill become clearer by draft day, or maybe it’ll stay murky and Aiken will be a complete wild card who might go anywhere from 10th to 60th overall. A team in the middle of the 2nd round told me (and I don’t think they’re the only team that feels this way) that they would take Aiken for a slot bonus there (a little over $1 million) no matter what Aiken’s medical says. One scouting director summer up the whole situation calling it “too volatile to predict right now.”
Kiley McDaniel has worked as an executive and scout, most recently for the Atlanta Braves, also for the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates. He's written for ESPN, Fox Sports and Baseball Prospectus. Follow him on twitter.