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Pipeline Inbox: Would a combine have affected Aiken?

Jim Callis responds to fans' questions about Astros' No. 1 overall Draft pick

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Pipeline Inbox: Would a combine have affected Aiken? play video for Pipeline Inbox: Would a combine have affected Aiken?

You may not realize it, but this is one of the busiest weeks of the year at MLBPipeline.com. It started with the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday and heats up with the 2014 First-Year Player Draft signing deadline at 5 p.m. ET today.

That has given me plenty of writing fodder, from Rangers third baseman Joey Gallo's batting-practice exploits and Futures Game MVP performance to the Astros' contentious negotiations with No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken and the status of the other unsigned players in the first 10 rounds. And that's not all.

Amid all this breaking news, the MLBPipeline team also is busy revamping our team-by-team Top 20 Prospects lists based on the first three months of Minor League play and Draft signings. We'll update them as part of our Prospect Watch in advance of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. We'll also unveil the upper half of our revised Top 100 Prospects list in a MLB Network special that will be broadcast on July 27 at 9 p.m. ET.

If MLB had some sort of predraft medical combine, and teams would have known about Brady Aiken's elbow anomaly in advance, where do you think he would have ended up going in the Draft?
-- Ryan S., Austin, Texas

The Draft rules got an overhaul during the negotiations for the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, which came into play in December 2011. One of the new provisions called for a pre-Draft medical combine, though MLB and the MLBPA have been unable to work out the logistics. When the Draft is held in early June, many college and high school players are still in the midst of their seasons.

So Aiken did what almost every draftee does. The Cathedral Catholic High (San Diego) left-hander got picked, then he negotiated a bonus and scheduled a post-Draft physical. After agreeing to terms on a $6.5 million bonus on June 7 -- tying Jameson Taillon for the largest Draft bonus ever received by a high school pitcher -- he went to Houston for a medical exam on June 23.

Something arose during that physical that caused Houston to revise its offer to $3,168,840, the minimum 40 percent of Aiken's assigned pick value ($7,922,100) required to receive the No. 2 overall choice in 2015 as compensation if he doesn't sign. Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reported that the Astros are concerned about the anatomy of the ulnar collateral ligament in Aiken's elbow.

Because medical interpretations are subjective and it's unclear how Aiken's UCL will affect him going forward, it's impossible to say where he would have been taken. What is certain is that both he and the Astros would have been better off had the concerns surfaced before the Draft.

Given that the Blue Jays took East Carolina right-hander Jeff Hoffman ninth overall after he had Tommy John surgery in May, I suspect that the Draft's top prospect (Aiken) wouldn't have gone past the pitching-needy Cubs at No. 4. It's also possible that the Astros might still have taken Aiken No. 1, and he'd have a clearer picture of his market value as other teams evaluated his elbow.

If Aiken doesn't sign with the Astros, do you believe they can draft someone with as high of a ceiling (or perhaps higher) in next year's Draft with the No. 2 overall pick they would receive as compensation?
-- J.P. S., Springfield, Ill.

If the Astros can't land Aiken today, they'll get the second choice in the 2015 Draft and be in position to grab a premium talent. That's not a bad consolation prize, though it's not optimal, because they'll have to wait a year and won't get someone quite as gifted as Aiken.

Former big league All-Star Mike Cameron's son Dazron, an outfielder from Eagle's Landing High in McDonough, Ga., is the consensus No. 1 talent for next year's Draft. There's no clear No. 2 prospect, especially not one who stands out like Aiken does.

Aiken has a 92-97 mph fastball, a curveball and a circle changeup, all of which project as above-average Major League pitches. Aiken has size (6-foot-3, 210 pounds), athleticism and polish to go with his quality stuff, and he has a track record of success in high school, with Team USA and on the showcase circuit. There's a reason Aiken became only the third high school left-hander to go No. 1 overall, and Houston will miss out if it can't get him signed.

How good is Red Sox second baseman Sean Coyle? It looks like he can contribute power, average, walks, defense and a high stolen-base percentage.
-- Jim O., Chapel Hill, N.C.

In 2013, second baseman Mookie Betts gave the Red Sox one of the bigger breakout performers in the Minor Leagues. Betts has continued to get better and better this season, when history is repeating itself with Coyle.

A starter for the U.S. team in the Futures Game, Coyle has batted .335/.410/.583 in 65 games at Double-A Portland, with 11 home runs and 13 steals in as many attempts. The 22-year-old is a legitimate prospect who commanded a $1.3 million bonus when he signed as a third-round pick out of a Pennsylvania high school in 2010.

Coyle's aggressive approach and tendency to strike out may limit his ability to hit for a high average, but he has solid power and speed, and he draws his share of walks. The biggest question is where he might fit into Boston's future lineup, because he's blocked at second base by Dustin Pedroia and Betts. While Coyle has seen time at third base this year, he lacks the desired arm strength for the position and could wind up helping the Red Sox most as trade bait.

Where would first-round pick Tyler Beede rank among Giants prospects? And what is his ETA?
-- Sheila D., Daly City, Calif.

One of 18 players selected in the first round of two Drafts, Beede turned down the Blue Jays as the 21st overall pick out of a Massachusetts high school in 2011. Signed for $2,613,200 this summer as the No. 14 choice after three years of Vanderbilt, the big right-hander combines a high ceiling with inconsistency.

At his best, Beede can get outs with three quality pitches: a 92-97 mph fastball, a sharp curveball and a deceptive changeup. But Beede repeatedly has had trouble commanding his stuff, and he all but abandoned his breaking ball during the Commodores' run to the College World Series championship. An organization noted for its skill at developing pitchers, the Giants are a nice fit for Beede.

Beede is San Francisco's second-best prospect at the moment, trailing only right-hander Kyle Crick. Beede isn't as polished as most first-round college pitchers, so I'd peg his ETA as late 2016 or early '17.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, Callis' Corner. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"event":["draft_central" ,"prospect" ] }
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