The professional debut of 2015 first-rounder Brady Aiken highlighted an Opening Day in the Rookie-level Arizona League on Monday.The Indians' No. 4 prospect fired two scoreless innings without allowing a hit for the AZL Indians in a 7-4 loss against the Reds. Aiken walked the first batter he faced but
The professional debut of 2015 first-rounder Brady Aiken highlighted an Opening Day in the Rookie-level Arizona League on Monday.
The Indians' No. 4 prospect fired two scoreless innings without allowing a hit for the AZL Indians in a 7-4 loss against the Reds. Aiken walked the first batter he faced but offset the free pass with a pick off en route to facing the minimum six hitters in the outing.
In his second inning of work, Aiken, No. 94 on the Top 100, put a bow on his impressive debut by striking out the side.
Aiken was originally drafted first overall by the Astros in 2014 but wasn't able to reach an agreement with the organization after Houston lowered its signing-bonus offer upon discovering a potential issue with the left-hander's elbow in an MRI.
Rather than settle for the reduced bonus, Aiken shifted his focus towards the 2015 Draft by attending IMG Academy (Fla.), only to have his stock take another hit when an elbow injury in his first start ultimately required Tommy John surgery. The Indians still selected him 17th overall that June, gambling on the immense upside he showed prior to the injury.
Now roughly 15 months removed from that outing, the 19-year-old left-hander is fully healthy and beginning his pro career. The Indians will manage his workload carefully this season, but, as Aiken showed on Monday, it shouldn't keep him from being successful.
The rest of the best performances from top prospects Monday
• No. 35 overall prospect A.J. Reed's 10th home run -- a solo shot in the top of the ninth inning -- turned out to be the game-winner as Triple-A Fresno edged Tacoma, 2-1. The Astros' No. 2 prospect drove in both his team's runs, finishing 1-for-3. He's having a strong month of June for the Grizzlies, with four home runs and 10 RBIs in 19 contests.
• No. 44 overall prospectJosh Bell went deep for the fourth time in seven games for Triple-A Indianapolis in a 7-5 win over Gwinnett. With 11 home runs in 68 games this season, the Pirates' No. 3 prospect is two long balls shy of matching his career high, which he achieved in 119 games in 2013. Bell, 23, has been putting up big numbers of late, with six homers, six doubles and 19 RBIs in his past 20 games.
• No. 93 overall prospect Cody Bellinger (Dodgers' No. 5) homered and doubled as part of a four-hit performance as Double-A Tulsa fell to Springfield, 5-4, in 11 innings. The home run was the 20-year-old's seventh of the season and first since May 26. In his 2015 full-season debut, Bellinger slugged 30 home runs in 128 games in the hitter-friendly Class A Advanced California League.
MILB Video - Title: Bellinger singles for fourth hit - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=840040383
• A's No. 9 prospect Dillon Overton fired a season-high 7 1/3 scoreless innings to pace Triple-A Nashville in a 4-0 shutout of Round Rock. The 24-year-old lefty scattered five hits, walked one and struck out six, with 72 of his 106 pitches going for strikes. He has not allowed an earned run in his last 20 1/3 innings (three starts) for the Sounds.
MILB Video - Title: Overton finishes with strikeout - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=840340583
• Dodgers No. 9 prospect Yadier Alvarez was stellar in his pro debut, twirling 3 2/3 scoreless innings while striking out seven for the AZL Dodgers. Alvarez, who was No. 1 on the 2015 Top 30 International Prospects list, received a $16 million bonus from the Dodgers when he signed last July.
• Mets No. 27 prospect Chris Flexen tossed a season-high eight scoreless frames as Class A Advanced St. Lucie blanked Palm Beach, 2-0. The 2012 14th-rounder scattered eight hits, struck out four and generated 13 ground-ball outs. Flexen, 21, lowered his ERA to 3.35 from 3.73.
• In Class A Advanced Bradenton's 1-0 shutout of Jupiter, Pirates No. 19 prospectStephen Tarpley struck out a season-high seven hitters over six innings in what was his best start of 2016. The 23-year-old righty, whom the Pirates acquired prior to the 2015 season in exchange for Travis Snider, allowed two hits and walked three while throwing 61 of his 95 pitches for strikes.
• Red Sox No. 27 prospect Kevin Steen logged five scoreless innings in his season debut for Class A Short Season Lowell, which walked off against Williamsport in 10 innings, 3-2. The 19-year-old right-hander threw 75 pitches (47 strikes), allowing a pair of hits and walks while striking out four. The 2014 ninth-rounder posted a 3.38 ERA over 32 innings (seven starts) for the Spinners last summer.
• Reds No. 16 prospectScott Schebler stayed hot as he went 4-for-4 with three doubles and two runs scored to help lead Triple-A Louisville past Buffalo, 4-1. The 25-year-old outfielder is enjoying an extraordinary month of June, hitting .426 with six home runs and 15 RBIs across 18 games.
MILB Video - Title: Schebler rips a double - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=839455783
• Rockies No. 11 prospect Mike Nikorak showed promise in his season debut for Rookie-level Grand Junction by tossing four innings of one-run ball against Ogden. The 2015 first-rounder (No. 27 overall pick) wasn't particularly efficient, with five hits and four walks allowed, but he managed to offset those baserunners by striking out six and generating five ground-ball outs. In his pro debut with Grand Junction last summer, the 6-foot-5 righty posted an 0-4 record and 11.72 ERA over eight starts, with more than twice as many walks (32) as strikeouts (14).
• Royals No. 13 prospect Ryan O'Hearn had a perfect night at the plate for Double-A Northwest Arkansas in a 5-3 loss against Arkansas, going 3-for-3 with a solo home run and a double. It was his fourth home run in the last 10 games and 13th in 68 games this season between the Class A Advanced and Double-A levels. The three-hit performance improved his average to .304 for the Naturals.
MILB Video - Title: O'Hearn cracks solo homer - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=839924383
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.