Cathedral Catholic’s Brady Aiken pitched in the Perfect Game All-American Classic at Petco Park.
It would be hard for anyone in San Diego County to best Brady Aiken in a game of “What I Did Last Summer.”
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound left-handed pitcher from Cathedral Catholic High started the summer at the Perfect Game National Showcase in Minnesota.
From there, it was off to Utah for a tournament with the Southern California Renegades, North Carolina for the Tournament of Stars, Long Beach for the Area Code Games and Petco Park for the Perfect Game All-American Classic, playing with the top prep players in the country.
The summer ended in Taichung, Taiwan, with Team USA in the IBAF AAA/18U World Cup.
Aiken was outstanding at every stop, but it was at the World Cup where he really shined.
In a do-or-die elimination game against Korea, Aiken worked 5 2/3 innings, allowing one run on five hits while striking out seven. Team USA won 2-1 to stay alive.
Four days later in the gold-medal game against Japan, Aiken allowed one run on five hits over seven innings while striking out 10. Team USA won 3-2.
“That was the best team Japan has ever sent to the championship,” said Brant Ust of USA Baseball. “Cathedral Catholic has a strong history with USA Baseball, so we knew we were getting a good player, but what Brady did in two pressure-packed games was amazing.”
Two weeks ago in a ceremony at Cathedral Catholic, Aiken was given the 2013 USA Baseball International Performance of the Year Award for his efforts in Taiwan.
“That was a whole different type of baseball,” Aiken said. “Korea and Japan play small ball. But their players really compete.
“I pitched in pressure situations all summer. Pitching in Petco Park was awesome, but the World Cup was different.
“I was playing with USA on my chest. We were playing for a gold medal, representing our country. It was a pride thing — team first.
“There were 10,000 people at the games and almost everyone in the stands was rooting against us. It was very motivating.
“A lot of the pro scouts said we weren’t sending our best team to Taiwan, but our coaches liked the makeup of the team and wanted unselfish guys. They cut better guys and kept team-oriented guys. The whole experience was much more than I ever expected.”
The same pro scouts who didn’t like Team USA’s chances in Taiwan, like Aiken’s chances to play professionally.
Signed to play with defending NCAA champion UCLA next season, Aiken is being compared to Major League Baseball stars Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.
Most pre-draft projections have Aiken as a high first-rounder.
The scouting report reads: “Fastball sits at 88-93 mph. Shows natural tail from his three-quarter slot. Fastball was showing more backspin. Has some swing-and-miss in his fastball.
“Changeup was 81-82 and flashes depth and fade, diving down. Solid, projectable pitch.
“Curve sits at 71-73 and flashes above average with solid rotation. Will work both sides of the plate with it.”
Scouts say Aiken has an ideal, slope-shoulder frame — a great pitcher’s build. Plus he can put on 10-15 pounds.
“Command will separate him from the pack,” the scouting report says.
One report said Aiken had the best command of any high school pitcher in the country, saying “clean, effortless mechanics. Can locate to every quadrant of the zone.”
Aiken was only 5-3 at Cathedral Catholic last season.
His other numbers, however, tell the real story. In 53 1/3 innings, he allowed just 30 hits and 25 walks and had 80 strikeouts. He allowed just four extra-base hits — three doubles and a homer. His ERA was 0.92.
“We have a chance to be pretty good,” Aiken said of Cathedral Catholic. “Sean Bouchard and I will take the lead.
“Sean played a lot this summer, and I think our experience will help. We’ll be coaches on the field.
“I want to be a role model for the younger players, for kids in general. I want to represent my school well.
“We have a great coach (Gary Remiker) and we want to win a championship.”
The question everyone asks, though, is “pro ball or college”?
“I don’t know, I really don’t,” Aiken said. “I haven’t even thrown a pitch this season.
“I can’t go wrong. It’s either UCLA or pro ball.
“This first-round talk is a little scary, but it’s awfully cool, too.
“Let’s just see what happens.”