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Brady Aiken goes from No. 1 to No. 17, but may end up better for it

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Brady Aiken didn't go first overall in this year's draft, but in the Indians, he might have found a perfect fit for his future.

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A year ago, Brady Aiken was the toast of the MLB Draft after the Astros selected him with the first overall pick. But Houston soon found reasons to be uneasy about Aiken's medical history, and a highly publicized contract standoff ensued before the young left-hander decided to bet on himself and take his chances in this year's draft.

While that bet didn't quite pay off, with a UCL tear this spring leading to Tommy John surgery, the Indians still took a chance on Aiken with the 17th overall pick Monday night.

On the surface, it looks like a decision that cost Aiken about $5.5 million, the difference between the slot allotments mandated by the collective bargaining agreement between the MLB and the players union. The value of the No. 1 pick in 2014 was set at a hair over $7.9 million. The Indians were allotted slightly under $2.4 million for the 17th pick this year, according to Baseball America.

Aiken would never have seen that 2014 figure, however. A few days after the draft, he and the Astros came to an agreement in principle of just $6.5 million, as reported Ben Reiter of Sports Illustrated. (Reiter was embedded with the Astros' draft team last year.) That was contingent on a physical, of course. The Astros' medical team turned up reason to be concerned with Aiken's pitching elbow, however. They were ultimately right, and Aiken underwent Tommy John some months later.

With the medical report in hand, Houston cut its offer substantially, to $3.1 million, again reported by Reiter. (That $3.1 offer was required by the CBA for the Astros to receive compensation in the 2015 draft should Aiken decline it. He did, and the Astros did. They took college shortstop Alex Bregman with the No. 2 overall pick on Monday night.) So if Aiken and the Indians agree to a contract at the slot allotment, it's a loss of about $700,000 based on Houston's last reported offer.

Despite the earnings dropoff, Aiken can finally move forward with his MLB career after being picked 17th Monday. And it might just be for the best that way. In Cleveland, he may have found the perfect organization to develop him into a successful big league pitcher.

Even with the injury concerns, there is little denying Aiken's talent. After drafting him first overall a year ago, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow had nothing but huge praise for the lefty.

"[He's] the most advanced high school pitcher I've ever seen in my entire career," Luhnow told "He has command like I've never seen before of his stuff."

Although he won't pitch again until next spring, Aiken could prove to be a huge pick for an Indians club that is already loaded with young pitching. On top of last year's Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, Cleveland boasts a starting staff that includes promising youngsters Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar.

That trio is exemplary of the Indians' ability and commitment to developing young pitching, and it's the type of organization that could help turn Aiken from a promising youngster into a top-of-the-rotation starter in the majors.

Aiken carries plenty of risks with him to be sure. Luhnow's comments last year demonstrate how highly the Astros thought of him, but also how worried they were about Aiken's long-term health.

Yet the Indians have been known to take risks with young pitching and famously traded for Bauer despite his publicized quirks and difficulties with the Diamondbacks' coaching staff.

Aiken represents a different kind of challenge, but like Bauer, his talent is undeniable. For a progressive organization that has unique methods in working with its pitchers, the Indians' development staff must be licking their lips now that they've added a pitcher with the sky-high potential that Aiken possesses.

Although he might not have been the No. 1 pick in this year's draft, the Indians could ultimately prove to be the best club for Aiken and his future.