Cleveland Indians pitching prospect Brady Aiken is taking time away from baseball, according to Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. The club is unsure if the left-hander will come back in time for spring training.
Aiken was selected first overall by the Houston Astros in the 2014 draft but didn't sign with the team. The next year, the Indians took him with the 17th overall pick.
"I think it's been a really hard path for him, a combination of injuries and he struggled performance-wise," Indians president Chris Antonetti said, according to Zack Meisel of The Athletic. "He put in a lot of effort to try to get back to being able to compete and just hadn't been able to get to that point yet. I think he's hit that point of reassessing his future.
"We're here to help any way we can be helpful in supporting him to get back on the field."
Aiken has appeared in 2/3 of an inning over the last two seasons in Single-A. Altogether, he owns a 5.18 ERA over 179 innings in parts of three minor-league seasons while never appearing above Single-A.
The 23-year-old follows in the footsteps of fellow first overall pick Mark Appel. Appel, selected with the top pick in 2013, took an indefinite break from baseball in 2018 and hasn't yet returned. Like Aiken, Appel stepped away before ever reaching the majors.
If Aiken doesn't return, he'll join Steve Chilcott, Brien Taylor, and Appel as the only first overall picks from before 2015 to never reach the majors.