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Astros fail to sign Brady Aiken, No. 1 overall pick in MLB draft

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Brady Aiken, a pitcher from San Diego who'd committed to UCLA, doesn't sign with Astros before Friday deadline
Jacob Nix, a pitcher from Los Alamitos, also was drafted by Astros but didn't sign; he too committed to UCLA

For only the third time since 1965, a major league team has failed to sign the top overall pick in baseball's annual amateur draft.

The Houston Astros and left-hander Brady Aiken, from San Diego Cathedral Catholic High, did not come to terms before Friday's signing deadline.

Aiken reportedly had reached an agreement with the Astros on a $6.5-million signing bonus pending a physical. But the Houston Chronicle reported that the physical revealed an issue with a ligament in Aiken's elbow.

Aiken has signed a letter of intent to attend UCLA, as has pitcher Jacob Nix of Los Alamitos High, a fifth-round selection who also failed to sign with the Astros. Both players are working with Casey Close of Excel Sports Management as their advisor. Close has criticized the Astros and MLB for the way negotiations were handled.

UCLA Coach John Savage declined to comment about Aiken or Nix, saying, "I don't know what the game plan is."

It is possible the pitchers might file a grievance seeking to immediately become free agents, or perhaps enroll at a junior college and be eligible for the draft again next year. If they enroll at UCLA, they would have to wait three more years before they were again draft eligible.

Because they did not sign Aiken, the Astros get the No. 2 overall pick in next year's draft.

The two previous instances of players who didn't sign after being drafted No. 1 overall were infielder Danny Goodwin, taken by the Chicago White Sox in 1971, and pitcher Tim Belcher, by Minnesota in 1983. Both became No. 1 overall picks in subsequent years, by the Angels and New York Yankees, respectively.

UCLA did get good news about All-American closer David Berg. A 17th-round selection by the Texas Rangers, Berg chose to return to the Bruins for his senior season.

During UCLA's national-championship season in 2013, Berg established an NCAA single-season record with 24 saves. Last season, he was slowed by a strained biceps muscle and the Bruins were unable to return to the playoffs.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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