The Houston Astros have struggled lately, and in an attempt to right the ship, the team called up two of their most promising prospects.
The Astros said that infielder Carlos Correa and right-hand pitcher Vincent Velasquez will join the team in Chicago for their three-game series against the White Sox starting tonight. In order to make room for the prospects, ESPN reported that right-handed reliever Jake Buchanan was optioned to Fresno while SB Nation stated that infielder Matt Dominguez was designated for assignment. This will be Correa and Velasquez’s first foray into major league baseball.
Correa, 20, has been compared to Alex Rodriguez by some scouts, according to Matt Snyder at CBS Sports. The No. 1 overall selection in the 2012 draft was having a tremendous season splitting time between Corpus Christi (Double-A) and Fresno (Triple-A). He was hitting a combined 0.335 with 10 home runs, 44 RBIs, and 21 doubles with 18 stolen bases before being summoned.
Houston is sitting atop of the AL West standings at 34-24 and are currently three-and-a-half games ahead of second-place Texas Rangers. The Astros have lost four straight and six of their last 10 games, which is why the team decided to call up Correa now, according to general manager Jeff Luhnow.
“We really feel like he can help our club right now win ballgames.We’ve scuffled a little bit in these last few days, and we feel like Carlos gives us the best chance to win. We want to keep our division lead and we want to win this division. We think he’s a big part of what we can do…
“With the whole package, he has the chance to be extremely special. He could not only be a good major league player, he could be a great major league player for a long time.”
Correa, the team’s top prospect, is expected to make his debut at shortstop tonight while Velasquez is scheduled to start on the mound Wednesday night.
Update: Correa did indeed start at shortstop on Monday and batted sixth. While the Astros fell to the White Sox 3-1, Correa went 1-for-4 with one RBI and was perfect in the field. Correa beat out an infield single in the fourth inning to drive in the run.
The Astros were previously platooning Jonathan Villar and Marwin Gonzalez at shortstop as season opening starter Jeb Lowrie is out until the All-Star break with a thumb injury. Villar is hitting 0.264 overall and has committed five errors in 20 games at SS while Gonzalez is hitting 0.227 overall and has committed three errors in 27 games at SS.
Velasquez, a hard thrower, went 3-0 with a 1.37 ERA in five starts at Corpus Christi. He struck out 37, walked nine, and gave up 15 hits in 26 1/3 innings with the Hooks. The 23-year-old began the season as the No. 56 prospect in Keith Law’s prospect rankings.
Velasquez will start in the place of Roberto Hernandez, who was moved to the bullpen. Hernandez was 2-5 with a 5.18 ERA in 11 starts this season.
“Roberto had given us a really solid two months in the rotation, but his last three starts haven’t been as good, and we really felt like he could be better utilized in the bullpen right now, and that provided an opportunity right now to give Vincent some starts while [Scott] Feldman is out,” Luhnow told MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. “Vince has dominated Double-A in a very similar way that [Lance] McCullers has dominated, and I think we’re emboldened to a certain extent by what McCullers has done up here.”
Buchanan made five appearances out of the bullpen for the Astros and posted a 2.00 ERA as he surrendered two earned runs and five hits in nine innings of work. Dominguez, meanwhile, has spent the entire year in Fresno, where he batted 0.251 with 15 extra-base hits and 26 RBIs.
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