He’s only 17-year-old… But Carlos Correa has already made it into annals of baseball…
The Houston Astros selected the Puerto Rican baseball phenom as the No. 1 pick Monday night, making him the first player from Puerto Rico to lead off the Major League Baseball draft.
“This means a lot,” said Correa, who was all smiles when he heard his name called, knowing he’d made hometown history at the baseball draft. “We’ve got a lot of good players there.”
Despite producing its share of baseball royalty like Roberto Clemente, Ivan Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Juan Gonzalez and Bernie Williams, Correa is the first selection from Puerto Rico. Some of those players signed as free agents — catcher Ramon Castro had been the highest-drafted player out of Puerto Rico, going No. 17 to Houston in 1994.
“I feel so excited to be the No. 1 pick,” said Correa, who was congratulated by Delgado on Twitter. “I’ve worked so hard to be here.”
It was the first time Houston had the top pick in the draft since 1992, when the Astros selected Phil Nevin — passing on future star Derek Jeter, who went five spots later to the New York Yankees.
“I have read about that,” said Correa, calling Jeter his idol. “I want to be like him. He’s awesome.”
First-year Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Correa “has a chance to be a star” who could hit 20-30 home runs in the pros, whether it’s in his current role as a shortstop or “ultimately maybe third base.”
Correa said he’d like to stay at shortstop and plans to use his signing bonus to help his family.
As he walked to the podium and shook hands with commissioner Bud Selig before a brief hug, Correa pulled out a small Puerto Rican flag and held it up to cheers from the crowd of major league representatives and fans gathered in the stadium-themed studio.
While recent drafts lacked first-pick intrigue, Luhnow said the Astros didn’t settle on Correa until about an hour before they went on the clock. Several mock draft lists predicted the Astros would select Stanford right-hander Mark Appel, but instead Houston made a somewhat surprising selection — although Correa was considered one of the top five players available.
Correa, who has an incredibly strong arm and terrific instincts on defense, may be the highly sought after “big-time bat” for the middle of Astros lineup. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound star from Santa Isabel was a star at the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy. He’s committed to the University of Miami, but will likely head to Houston’s farm system instead.
“Right now, he stays at shortstop and if he was to happen to grow out of it, it’s the power that’s the attraction here and it’s the middle of the order potential impact bat,” Astros scouting director and assistant general manager Bobby Heck said. “So if he has to move, his profile is still very, very strong.”
Meanwhile, Florida high school outfielder Albert Almora was selected sixth by the Chicago Cubs.
“I’m speechless,” said Almora by phone in an interview with MLB.com, about an hour after the 18-year-old was drafted. “I don’t remember much of anything that happened tonight. I know that the Cubs drafted me, and I’m grateful, but I’m still kind of shocked and overwhelmed.”
The first round and the compensation rounds are completed Monday night, with rounds 2 through 40 conducted over the next two days via conference call with the teams.