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The future is now for surprising Astros

Former No. 1 overall pick Correa homers twice in first week with Houston

While the Astros have been an early season surprise with their emergence as the American League West leader, the organization has not lost sight of its long-range plan. In need of a boost for the big league team, the Astros have begun to add key players from the initial Drafts of the current front office to the Major League mix.

Carlos Correa was called up this week -- he's the youngest player to appear in the big leagues this season (20 years, 2659 days old on his Monday debut) -- and stepped into the shortstop role. He hit safely in each of his first four games with a double and two home runs.

Both homers have come off left-handed relievers. He hit his first big league shot off White Sox reliever Zach Duke in Chicago on Tuesday, and his second came against Mariners reliever Joe Beimel in Houston on Friday night.

Correa was the first player selected in the 2012 Draft.

This season, in addition to Correa, right-hander Lance McCullers (a supplemental first-round pick in 2012) and left fielder Preston Tucker (7th round, '12) have been added to the big league roster.

McCullers will go into Sunday's start against the Mariners with a 2-1 record and 2.32 ERA in five starts since his May 18 debut. On Friday, Tucker made his 25th start in the 34 games since his May 7 callup.

Correa is the only 20-year-old position player among the 855 players who had appeared in the big leagues coming into the weekend. There have been five players 40 or older -- right-handers R.A. Dickey of the Blue Jays and Rafael Betancourt of the Rockies are 40; Ichiro Suzuki of the Marlins is 41, and right-handers Bartolo Colon of the Mets and LaTroy Hawkins of the Rockies are 42.

The prime age range for big league players is usually between 25-31, which has accounted for 599 players who had appeared this season going into the weekend -- 70 percent.

Eight was enough
Correa's home run Friday came in a game in which Felix Hernandez had what he admitted was "the worst" start of his 316 big league appearances. Hernandez retired only one batter -- Correa, who batted sixth and struck out looking.

Video: Astros erupt with eight runs in the 1st against Felix

King Felix did give up 10 earned runs in a May 16, 2006, start against Oakland, but he worked four innings in that game. He worked three innings in an Aug. 28, 2013, start against the Rangers, when he allowed nine runs (eight earned).

This was only the second time Hernandez had failed to pitch at least three innings -- he retired one batter and gave up three runs against Minnesota on April 18, 2007. It was the fourth time he allowed eight runs in a start. He worked 3 1/3 innings on May 7, 2010, against the Angels, 3 2/3 innings on May 16, 2012, against the Indians, and 4 2/3 innings against the Blue Jays on Sept. 23, 2014.

Hernandez does have 216 quality starts in his career tied, for seventh among current pitchers with John Lackey of the Cardinals and Jake Peavy, who is on the disabled list with the Giants. Tim Hudson is the active leader with 299, followed by Mark Buehrle (292), CC Sabathia (268), Colon (260), A.J. Burnett (235) and Dan Haren (226), according to Stats Inc.

The all-time leader in quality starts is Don Sutton (483), followed by Nolan Ryan (481) and Greg Maddux (479).

By comparisons, Hernandez has had a quality start in 68.4 percent of his big league starts. Sutton was at 63.9 percent, Ryan at 62.2 percent and Maddux at 64.7 percent. Hernandez is in his 11th big league season. The only pitcher with more quality starts in fewer than 13 seasons was Mel Stottlemyre, who had 247 in 11 big league seasons.

Happy Anniversary
Sunday is the 25th anniversary of the National League owners' approval a two-team expansion for the 1993 season. The NL eventually selected Miami and Denver for the new franchises.

 Video: Relive Vander Meer's consecutive no-hitters

Monday is the 77th anniversary of John Vander Meer pitching his second consecutive no-hitter -- a 6-0 Reds victory against the Dodgers in the first night game played at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field. He struck out seven and walked eight -- the third-highest total in history during a no-hitter. Jim Maloney of the Reds walked 10 Cubs in a 1-0, 10-inning no-hitter on Aug. 19, 1965, and A.J. Burnett of the Marlins walked nine Padres on May 12, 2001.

• The Rockies lead the Majors with 11 weather delays this season (four of which led to postponements), totaling 18 hours and 12 minutes. Cincinnati is second at 11 hours and 49 minutes, according to notes guru Bill Arnold. The A's and Rays have not had any delays. The Cubs led the Majors in delays a year ago with 25 hours and 56 minutes.

Chris Heston on Tuesday became the first pitcher to not issue a walk but hit three batters during a no-hitter. There were five no-hitters in which the pitcher did not walk a batter but did hit one: Kevin Brown of the Marlins against the Giants June 10, 1997, Bob Forsch of the Cardinals against the Expos on Sept. 26, 1983, Bill Singer of the Dodgers against the Phillies on July 20, 1970, Joe Horlen of the White Sox against the Tigers on Sept. 10, 1967, and Lew Burdette of the Braves against the Phillies on Aug. 18, 1960.

Buster Posey has joined Bill Carrigan and Yogi Berra as the only catchers to be behind the plate for three no-hitters and also for three World Series championship teams.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for
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