Thursday, August 8, 2013

Two games in Cedar Rapids: Carlos Correa

Carlos Correa awaits a pitch Monday.
There were, of course, two teams involved in the games I watched, and the visitors, the Quad Cities River Bandits, are also laden with prime talent. Indeed, they had the No. 1 overall picks from the last two drafts in shortstop Carlos Correa (2012) and pitcher Mark Appel (2013).

Appel pitched on Tuesday, the day after our two games, and dominated the Kernels -- as he probably should. I'm not sure what the point is of sending him to low A. Anyway, I didn't see him.

Correa I saw. The Kernels probably figure they saw too much of him.

The Houston Astros took Correa over Byron Buxton in the 2012 draft, and while the general consensus held Buxton to be the superior talent, there were those who preferred Correa. And Correa signed more cheaply than Buxton did, which gave the Astros the budgetary wriggle room to draft and sign a pair of difficult signees.

With Buxton now widely considered the top prospect in the minors, Jim Callis of Baseball America has said the Astros outsmarted themselves, that they'd have been better off taking Buxton. But it's way too early to be sure of that; neither player has advanced out of A ball yet.

Correa reacts to a pitch at shortstop
In the two games I watched, Correa (hitting third) went 6-for-9 with a walk, two RBIs and two runs scored. One of his outs came on a popped-up bunt. He looked, in the old Dizzy Deam phrase, "mighty hitterish up there." The hits were all singles -- line drives and hard grounders. His slugging percentage this year is .478, which is the best on the River Bandits but well south of what Buxton put up in the Midwest League

Correa appeared comfortable and in control at shortstop. The most interesting play he made came Monday, when Cedar Rapids catcher Michael Quesada hit a grounder to Correa's right. Correa backhanded it and made a strong throw to first to nail Quesada by plenty.

Correa is certainly an excellent prospect. How good depends on whether he remains a shortstop. He's listed at 6-foot-4, 190 pounds; there are scouts who believe he's going to outgrow the position and wind up at third base. I'm not so sure about that; Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Cal Ripken have demonstrated that big guys can play shortstop. Certainly it will be easier to justify passing on Buxton if Correa remains in the middle of the diamond.

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