ALVIN, Texas -- Mike Partida, an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Alvin Community College, just south of Houston, was scouting for players in Florida last summer when a talented second baseman from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy caught his eye.Partida liked what he saw -- the quick bat, terrific
ALVIN, Texas -- Mike Partida, an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Alvin Community College, just south of Houston, was scouting for players in Florida last summer when a talented second baseman from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy caught his eye.
Partida liked what he saw -- the quick bat, terrific instincts, dirty uniform and hustle -- and thought the player would be a good fit. He was listed on the roster as Jean Carlos Correa Oppenheimer, so Partida didn't immediately know exactly who he was trying to recruit.
"A buddy of mine, Omar Rodriguez, who's the director of the Puerto Rican Baseball Academy, I asked him about the kid, and he said, 'Hey, Mike, do you know who that is?' I said, 'No.' He said, 'That's Carlos Correa's little brother of the Astros,'" Partida said. "I said, 'No, it's not. He has a different last name.' He said he was using the mom's [maiden] name, but it's Carlos' brother."
Latin American players sometimes use the last names of both parents, though he goes by Jean Carlos Correa these days. Partida maintained a close relationship with the younger Correa, talking to him on the phone often. The coach had done some work at the Urban Youth Academy in Houston, reaching out to some of his friends there who knew Carlos to put a bug in their ear about Alvin.
"We got him to come down and visit," Partida said of Jean. "He loved it. He got to see practice and how things are ran here, and he fell in love with it."
Jean Carlos, 18, will start at second base and hit leadoff for Alvin when the Dolphins open their season on Friday. He speaks with the same confidence as his brother and has the same makeup, but he doesn't have the same body. At 5-foot-10, Jean Carlos is 6 inches shorter than his 22-year-old brother, who won the 2015 American League Rookie of the Year Award.
"He's my brother, I will say that, and I am proud of him," Jean Carlos said. "People are always comparing us, and I always say we are two different people. We have the same talent, but he's a shortstop and I'm a second baseman, so we are totally different. People can't compare us."
Like the rest of his Alvin teammates, Jean Carlos lives near campus, though he spends the weekends with his brother in Houston. Carlos has been to a few of his practices over the last few months and will likely take in a game or two before Spring Training starts next month.
"We share a lot of time together like brothers, and we are united," Jean Carlos said.
Alvin head coach Jason Schreiber said he can see some of Carlos in the way Jean Carlos prepares at the plate and how he attacks the ball.
"He's done really, really well for us and really fits in with what we do here -- we hit the ball the other way, we slash the ball all over the field," Schreiber said. "He's got a very advanced swing and does a good job with it."
Jean Carlos said he's proud of what his brother has accomplished and is aiming to join him one day in the big leagues. Carlos tells him repeatedly to work hard.
"I am so proud because I saw how hard he worked in his childhood," Jean Carlos said. "He never played basketball and all that. He was focused on baseball always. To be the first [Draft] pick in 2012, he made history [being the first No. 1 from Puerto Rico]. I'm so proud of him. Now that he's in the big leagues, I know he reached his dream, and I know he's looking forward to being a Hall of Famer. He's always working hard."
And having the family of baseball royalty playing for his team is great for the Alvin program as well, Schreiber said.
"He's come in and fit in really, really well" Schreiber said. "Our guys say he's hilarious. I haven't seen it. He's pretty quiet around me, but our guys love him. It's a good fit for us."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.