Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Astros were unable to reach an agreement with pitcher Brady Aiken, the No. 1 overall pick in this year's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, by Friday's signing deadline.
Aiken, a 17-year-old left-hander out of San Diego's Cathedral Catholic High School, becomes only the third top overall choice in the draft's history not to sign, joining Danny Goodwin in 1971 and Tim Belcher in 1983.
The Astros will now receive the No. 2 pick in next year's draft for their failure to come to terms. Aiken, who has committed to UCLA, will either pitch for the Bruins next spring or has the option to attend junior college in hopes of remaining eligible for the 2015 draft.
Friday's news is the culmination of a stunning turn of events between the Astros and Aiken over the last month. The talented hurler had initially agreed to a deal that contained a $6.5 million bonus just days after the draft, but Houston later reduced its offer to $3.1 million due to concerns over the structure of Aiken's elbow after he took a physical.
"The Astros offer to Brady was extremely fair considering all the factors involved in this case," said Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow in a statement. "As always, we approached these negotiations in good faith and with the best interests of the Astros organization in mind, both short-term and long-term. Throughout this entire process, we have absolutely acted within Major League Baseball's rules and guidelines, which MLB has confirmed on numerous occasions.
"Despite not reaching a deal today, we are pleased with the bright young talent we obtained in this year's Draft. We wish Brady and his family all the best moving forward."
Houston's inability to strike a deal with Aiken also cost the team the opportunity to sign California high school pitcher Jacob Nix, a fifth-round pick who had agreed to an above-slot bonus. By not signing Aiken, the Astros were forced to forfeit the entire $7.9 allotted to the No. 1 overall pick from their overall signing budget per MLB rules.
Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark later issued a statement chastising the Astros for their decision.
"Today, two young men should be one step closer to realizing their dreams of becoming Major League ballplayers. Because of the actions of the Houston Astros, they are not," said Clark. "The MLBPA, the players and their advisers are exploring all legal options."
If Aiken, the first prep lefty to be taken first overall since the Yankees chose Brien Taylor in 1991, does decide to attend UCLA, he will not be able to re-enter the draft until 2017.
Aiken emerged as a top prospect following a brilliant career at Cathedral Catholic, where he went 18-4 with a 1.09 ERA over three seasons and struck out 111 batters in just 59 2/3 innings as a senior.