Carlos Correa is just 21-years-old.
Even though Correa has not played even a full season for the Houston Astros, he is expected to play a key role in their effort to reach the playoffs.
While that might seem like a lot of pressure for him, Correa has thus far withstood the strain.
Most notably, Carlos was the No. 1 selection overall in the 2012 Major League Baseball draft. Historically, just a few No. 1 draft picks have turned out to be superstars (Ken Griffey, Jr. and Chipper Jones come to mind), while others underwhelm (a la Andy Benes, Rick Monday, and Darrin Erstad), and a few never even make it to the big leagues (i.e., Matt Bush and Brien Taylor).
Correa’s Fast Track
But after being drafted at the age of 17 (his birthday is September 22), Carlos Correa batted.313 with a.392 on-base percentage, hit 28 home runs and stole 54 bases in 282 minor league games.
Before he was called up last June 8, 2015, Correa was batting.335 with a 1.007 OPS (On-base-plus-slugging-percentage) in the minors. It was these numbers that prompted Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports to call on the Astros to bring Correa up without further delay.
“Never mind that Correa has been one of the youngest players at every level; rival scouts and executives will tell you that he looks like a man among boys. Indeed, some think it’s possible that Correa will become the best player in the Astros’ 54-year history.”
Three weeks later, Correa was called up to Houston to become the Astro’s everyday shortstop. He responded with a home run in just his second major league game.
In 99 games with Houston, Carlos smashed 22 home runs to go with 68 RBI and 22 stolen bases. Correa also batted.279 and had an OPS of.857, all of which enabled him to win the American League Rookie of the Year Award. As ABC News reported, Correa was “the first American League player to win a Rookie of the Year award after being selected with the first overall pick in any draft.”
Correa also led the Astros to an 86-76 record. This was their first winning season since 2008 and a clear sign that their painful rebuilding period, when they lost 100 games in three consecutive seasons from 2011-2013, is over.
But in 2015, the Astros turned a corner. Along with other young up-and-coming stars like Jose Altuve, George Springer, and ace pitcher Dallas Keuchel (who won the 2015 AL Cy Young Award), Carlos Correa led the Astros to their first playoff appearance since 2008.
How Far Will Correa Take Them In 2016?
This is why USA Today picks the Correa-led Astros to win the American League West Division over last year’s division champs, the Texas Rangers, and the offensively strong Los Angeles Angels.
Behind Correa, Altuve, and Keuchel, there are questions that Hinch will have to answer:
- Will first baseman Jon Singleton cut down on his strikeouts?
- Can outfielder Colby Rasmus bat higher than his.245 lifetime average?
- Will Springer avoid the injuries that caused him to miss 60 games last year?
- Can the starting rotation behind Keuchel, which is made up of three journeymen and young Lance McCullers, remain strong over a full season (as with Correa, this is McCuller’s first full big league season)?
All of these are crucial questions. However, experts agree that most crucial question of all centers around Carlos Correa, and whether he can handle the rigors of leading a major league team at age 21. Correa has met his previous pressure-packed situations (top pick in the draft, playing in the big leagues at age 20) with flying colors.
But leading the Houston Astros to a World Series Championship is Carlos Correa’s biggest one yet.
[Photo by Patric Schneider/Associated Press]