Astros think outside the box and pick Carlos Correa as their No. 1 Draft pick.
To the rest of the baseball world, it really came down to two players the Astros would decide between to be their No. 1 pick in the Draft: college pitcher Mark Appel, and high school outfielder Byron Buxton.
GM Jeff Luhnow and scouting director Bobby Heck and a roomful of execs and scouts watched MLB Network with amusement from the Draft room, knowing that the answer was actually c): neither.
As the analysts on Network speculated who the Astros would ultimately take, while surmising Luhnow was likely both nervous and excited to be running his first draft as a GM, Luhnow sat back in his chair looking about as jittery as he would if he was sitting on a lounge chair, on the beach in the Bahamas, holding an umbrella drink.
In other words, Luhnow, as has been the case since he took over as GM last November, was one cool cat throughout the process. Heck was as well, especially when he called the Astros representatives who were at the Network studios in Secaucus, NJ, to tell them who they picked.
Clearly, the Astros surprised some people by picking shortstop Carlos Correa, a 17-year-old high school kid who played amateur baseball at the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy in Gurabo, Puerto Rico.
This wasn’t an open and shut case for the Astros. They’ve spent weeks discussing, dissecting and analyzing all top prospects expected to go in the first round. Their ultimate decision didn’t arrive until just before they were, as Commissioner Bud Selig phrased it, “on the clock.”
“This afternoon,” Luhnow said, asked when he decided Correa was their guy. “We were working on it all day.”
Watch the behind-the-scenes video from the Draft room
High School: Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, Gurabo, P.R.
Will Correa stay at shortstop?
“He’s 17 years old. He has a big frame, advanced feet, advanced hands. He can really throw. Even if he stays at shortstop, he will be a middle-of-the-order bat.”
“Carlos has a chance to be a star. Anyone who saw him play recognizes that. He has the type of bat that can produce at the Major League level — a 20, 30-type home run (hitter) playing at a premium position, whether that is shortstop or maybe third base. He will hit in the middle of the order.”
Luhnow, on Correa’s background:
“He had a 4.0 (grade point average) in high school. We asked for the transcripts. He has gotten A’s in every class he’s taken. He’s an overachiever. He’s driven to be successful.”
Is there concern he’ll ultimately decide to attend the University of Miami, where he committed to play baseball?
“I suspect Miami will not see him, unless he’s visiting friends.”
MLB.com Scouting report:
“High school middle infielders who have the tools to stay at shortstop long term aren’t always easy to find. That’s a big reason why Correa is so high on Draft lists at this point. Defensively, Correa is above average across the board — range, arm and actions — leaving no question about his ability to stay at short. He can swing the bat, too, with the potential to be an above-average hitter with outstanding power. He’s a solid baserunner who is better underway and has off-the-charts work ethic and baseball instincts. Correa’s swing can get a little long at times and he will occasionally get out of his game plan at the plate. But that’s just nitpicking and the only thing that could keep Correa from being the highest draftee from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy is his commitment to Miami.”
“Correa has plenty of tools. He is a quality defender at shortstop with soft hands and a well above-average arm. He’s an above-average runner and also has excellent potential with the bat, profiling to hit for average and power. Correa has drawn comparisons to Troy Tulowitzki and Ryan Zimmerman.
Photos from day one of the Draft: