Aiken, 25 years old, has not pitched in a regular season game since 2019. Even then, he appeared in only two contests and struggled by walking six batters and recording just two outs. Months later, in December, Aiken made the decision to step away from the sport. Back in April, The Athletic's Zack Meisel provided an update on Aiken's status:
He's technically still a member of the organization, but he's recovering from thoracic outlet syndrome, a malady that can cause pain, tingling and weakness in the shoulder. I was told he had not been at the team's complex in Arizona for spring training.
It's unclear if Aiken has designs on returning to baseball heading forward. If not, his career will always be defined by the circumstances that began it, when the Houston Astros selected him first overall in the 2014 draft.
A post-draft physical revealed an "abnormality" with Aiken's ulnar collateral ligament, setting off a chain reaction in which the Astros slashed their offer. Aiken forewent signing, thereby reducing the Astros' signing bonus pool and impacting agreements the Astros had with other members of their draft class, including fifth-round pick Jacob Nix. Though the Astros were not able to officially sign Nix without violating MLB's rules, they were allowed to pay him $1.5 million as part of a settlement. (For reasons only the league knows, the Astros were not punished.)
Aiken re-entered the draft a year later and was selected by the Guardians with the 17th pick. His career has since been marred by injuries and disappointment. In 179 frames, he's compiled a 5.18 ERA and a 1.15 strikeout-to-walk ratio.