Correa proud of his roots in Puerto Rico
Those who saw the talent early on in Carlos Correa as a young player coming up in Puerto Rico wanted him to move to the United States so he would have a better chance at getting drafted. Correa wanted none of it. He's extremely proud of his roots and wanted to show everyone stardom can be reached from the island.
The Astros took the 17-year-old shortstop with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft and now have an up-and-coming superstar on their hands.
Correa, who made his debut in early June, hit .279 with 22 homers, 68 RBIs and 14 stolen bases in 99 games in his rookie season, making him the favorite to win the American League Rookie of the Year and Best Rookie in the Esurance MLB Awards.
"They wanted me to move because they said in the States I would have a better chance to get drafted higher because the scouts would be watching me play in the States all the time, and I said no," Correa said. "I wanted to be able to show everyone that from Puerto Rico you can do it as well. I wanted to stay in Puerto Rico and show the kids in Puerto coming behind me it could be done.":: Stomping Grounds: Where stars got their start ::
Correa's maturity is not by accident. He was just eight years old when he began assisting his father, Carlos Sr., on construction sites in Puerto Rico and admits he had to grow up faster than other kids who were playing video games while Carlos was handing his dad supplies on the job site.
"Then when I was 12, I was working a lot harder with him, especially in the summers when I was out of school," Correa said. "I was working with my dad in construction and helping him build houses and all this stuff. I had to learn to do all this stuff at that young age and I could see how hard he had to work to get to where he was. I liked doing it. He's my dad and I'll always be proud of him."
Carlos Sr. was a baseball fan and always had the game on television. He was especially a fan of Pedro Martinez, the Hall of Fame pitcher. One day when Carlos Sr. was watching a game, little Carlos said he wanted to play.
"So we got the ballpark and he started flipping me balls and I started hitting the ball really hard," Correa said. "My first day of practice, he's like, 'Wow, you have a lot of talent. This is God-given.' So we started practicing every day, trying to get on some teams and all of them told me they were full and I had never played baseball before."
Carlos Sr. came across a team that needed a first baseman and was willing to make room for little Carlos. Soon, he was hitting two or three homers per game at five and six years old in a league where kids are flipped balls by adults. The team wanted to utilize Correa's talent to the fullest and moved him to shortstop.
"When I was in third grade, I told [his father] I wanted to learn English because I wanted to play in the big leagues," Correa said. "He took it seriously and we started learning from different people. He got me some coaches to help me, and now I'm here playing for the Houston Astros."
Correa was in public school until the fourth grade when he moved to a bilingual Christian school. It wasn't cheap, so Carlos Sr. took another job to help pay for the school. He knew his son had the talent to one day play in the big leagues and he wanted to do anything to put him in a better position to succeed.
Correa was well known in Puerto Rico by his sophomore year in high school when he transferred to the Puerto Rican Baseball Academy. It was an hour from his home, which meant he had to wake up at 5 a.m. each weekday. He wouldn't get home until supper time and would then go out to work on his baseball skills until 10 p.m. or so.
"The work ethic was always there," he said. "I learned that from my dad. I started working with them at the academy. I would go back home and work with my dad. It was a routine I did for three years, and I think it paid off. I was able to get drafted first overall by the Astros and, like I said, I'm here now playing for the Houston Astros, which is a dream come true."