Left-hander Brady Aiken, the top prospect in this year's MLB draft class and the first overall pick in 2014, will pitch this spring for the postgraduate team at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, a source told ESPN. The move will make him eligible for this year's draft, which begins June 8.
Aiken will join right-handed pitcher Jacob Nix, who reported to IMG in early February and has already made several starts for the postgraduate team.
Both Aiken and Nix were selected by the Houston Astros, Aiken with the first pick and Nix with a fifth-round pick, in the 2014 Rule 4 draft, but did not come to terms with the team by the July 15 signing deadline.
Nix filed a grievance against the Astros and settled for an undisclosed sum in November. Both pitchers were originally committed to attend UCLA, but by pitching for IMG they will both be eligible for the draft this year.
Aiken is expected to report to IMG this week and should be ready to face live hitters in game action in about two weeks. The source indicated that Aiken is likely to make seven to nine starts for IMG, enough for scouts from MLB teams to evaluate him while limiting his innings enough to allow him to pitch a full summer for the team that drafts and signs him.
The Astros will receive the second overall pick in this year's draft as compensation for failing to sign Aiken, but cannot re-select him without his prior consent.
The IMG Academy is a multisport private school and training facility that has trained several notable NFL stars, including Cam Newton and Russell Wilson, and also runs baseball teams at several age/academic levels. John Ryan Murphy, who is competing to be backup catcher for the New York Yankees, is a prominent baseball alumnus.