Correa joins exciting MLB youth movement
It's more happy coincidence than anything else, but the symmetry is sweet all the same. Carlos Correa joins the Astros on the same day that Major League clubs look to land the next great batch of prospects in the first round of the MLB Draft, and the game's youth movement pushes onward.
The 20-year-old Correa was the first pick in the first round of the 2012 Draft, and in relatively short order -- even in the face of fibula surgery last summer -- he's made good on that 1-1 status with a rise up the ranks to potentially serve as a shortstop sparkplug for a first-place Astros squad.
That makes three of the 10 names currently on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list -- Correa (No. 2), Joey Gallo (No. 8) and Noah Syndergaard (No. 9) -- who have graduated to the big leagues in the past few weeks. But all three have their work cut out for them if they're going to keep pace with some of the other kids with clout on this big league stage.
The clubhouses at this summer's All-Star Game in Cincinnati will be loaded with guys either barely old enough to buy a legal drink or rent a car.
Your early National League MVP Award favorite? That would be 22-year-old Bryce Harper, the Nationals' 1-1 from 2010 who has gone deep 19 times this season.
The guy pushing Harper for the NL home run crown? It's the $325 million man, Giancarlo Stanton, who is just 25 years old and eight years removed from his post-high school selection No. 76 overall in the Draft.
The early favorite for NL All-Star starting pitcher? Gerrit Cole, the Pirates' 1-1 from 2011, who, at 24, has a 1.73 ERA, would probably be the top candidate for that starting nod, although 24-year-old Braves acquisition Shelby Miller (the 19th overall pick by the Cardinals in 2009) is making his case.
(That Miller trade might sting for St. Louis, but at least the Cards still have former October hero Michael Wacha, who has a 2.18 ERA just a few weeks shy of his 24th birthday.)
Or maybe NL manager Bruce Bochy would give the All-Star honor to the man who owned October last year -- Madison Bumgarner. Hard to believe it, because he began impacting a World Series winner just three years after getting selected 10th overall in 2007, but MadBum is only 25 years old. He's actually four months younger than Mets ace Matt Harvey, whose Tommy John return has, more often than not, been every bit as electric as envisioned.
Who would toe the rubber for the American League? Again, if the game were tomorrow, you'd have to give a hard look to either 25-year-old A's ace Sonny Gray (the 18th overall pick from 2011) or 26-year-old Rays standout Chris Archer (a savvy selection by the Indians at No. 161 overall in 2006). They are one and two in the AL in ERA (Gray at 1.65, Archer 1.84), followed closely by Astros ace Dallas Keuchel, an "old man" at 27.
Your reigning AL MVP Award winner? Well, as you know, that's 23-year-old Mike Trout, and there are 24 teams constantly kicking themselves for letting him slip by before the Angels grabbed him in that 2009 Draft.
But the Los Angeleno thus far actually outpacing Trout in home runs, weighted runs created and WAR? That's Dodgers dynamo Joc Pederson, a 23-year-old who has risen from the anonymity of an 11th-round selection in 2010 to become an early NL Rookie of the Year Award favorite.
That said, Pederson could be pushed for that honor by Kris Bryant, the 23-year-old who was taken second overall by the Cubbies just two years ago and has quickly become one of the game's most marketable stars.
Bryant, though, is not the best player on the Cubs. The best player on the Cubs is Anthony Rizzo, who might feel like an elder statesman in that young lineup, but is actually just 25 years young. Rizzo was plucked out of high school with the Red Sox's sixth-round pick back in 2007.
Speaking of elite first basemen, have you checked out the AL All-Star voting lately? Miguel Cabrera is a two-time AL MVP Award winner, a likely Hall of Famer and possibly the greatest hitter of his time, but he's in a real ballot battle with 25-year-old Eric Hosmer, who went from No. 3 overall pick in 2008 to a middle-of-the-order force for the AL champs last fall.
As you can tell from the above, there's no set way or timetable for rising to stardom. You can be a first overall pick like Harper or Cole or David Price or Adrian Gonzalez or a 352nd overall pick like Pederson. So predicting which picks will rise quickly out of this week's Draft is a fool's errand.
But because we've already seen two college arms from the '14 Draft -- the Royals' Brandon Finnegan and the White Sox's Carlos Rodon -- reach and make their mark in the bigs, a few names to pay particular attention to include Illinois lefty Tyler Jay, Vanderbilt right-hander Carson Fulmer and UC Santa Barbara right-hander Dillon Tate, all of whom could probably impact a big league bullpen this year. Advanced college bats like shortstops Dansby Swanson (Vanderbilt) or Alex Bregman (Louisiana State) might have a particularly swift acceleration.
For Correa, just three years separated the conclusion of his time at the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and Monday's highly anticipated arrival. He is MLB's latest precocious prospect promotion.
And if Correa becomes an All-Star-type talent at an early age, well, he'll fit right in around here.