A Celebration of Astros 2012 #1 Pick: Carlos Correa

USA TODAY Sports

Surprisingly quietly, Astros 2012 first overall draft pick Carlos Correa has put up a season for the ages.

This past month, a lot of hoopla has been made of Astros CF prospect George Springer's record breaking season, and justifiably so. Springer is an exciting player - he hit 40 home runs, counting the All Star game and the playoffs, and he stole more than 40 bases. He's close to the majors. He represents what Astros fans have been waiting for since, oh, about 2006.

Likewise, prospectphiles nation-wide are paying mucho atención to Miguel Sano (.280/.382/.610 as a 20-year-old in A+ and AA), Xander Bogaerts (USA Today player of the year), and 2012 No. 2 overall pick Byron Buxton (Baseball America player of the year). Also, justifiably.

Monday I had the good fortune to have a lengthy conversation with Dena Propis, Media Relations Manager for the Houston Astros. During that chat, Astros shortstop prospect and 2012 No. 1 overall pick Carlos Correa's name came up -- I don't even remember in what context, other than Dena said that he's a huge guy who towers over people. I realized something in that moment that prompted me to shout this question internally:

WHY IS NOBODY TALKING ABOUT CARLOS CORREA?????

Let's talk about Carlos Correa, or he-who-will-forever-be-compared-with-Byron-Buxton. Across two levels during the 2012 season, he played a decent shortstop while hitting an uninteresting, but still good for a 17-year-old, .258/.305/.400 (Average/On-Base %/Slugging %). Because he did not rocket to instantaneous stardom, Joe Average Fan began questioning the Astros' pick. This season, Correa has been overshadowed in the national and Astros media and blogosphere by Springer and Buxton, but in the meantime, he quietly hit .320/.405/.467 at A-Level Quad Cities.

As an 18-year-old short stop.

Here's the counting line: 73 Runs, 9 Home Runs, 86 RBI, 10 Stolen Bases. He walked in over 11% of his plate appearances and struck out in just 16%. He posted a wRC+ of 148.

As an 18-year-old short stop.

Not able to leave amazing information alone, and this ostensibly being a sabermetric piece, I set out to find other players who have managed what he has during 2013. Below is what I found (from 2006 to 2013):

  • Only 30 players since 2006 have recorded 400+ plate appearances during their Age-18 or younger seasons at A-level ball (not A- or A+, but just A). Correa had 519.
  • That's 30 players out of 1,200 guys who have recorded at least 400 plate appearances. So even in the company of those 30 players, Correa was in the 2.5th percentile in player age for that level of the minors. If you don't like subtraction, that means 97.5% of the players in his league level over the past 8 seasons were older than him.
  • Out of those 30 players, Correa's walk rate was 3rd-best, just after Jonathan Singleton and Jurickson Profar.
  • Out of those 30 players, Corera's strikeout rate was 11th-best. Not shabby.
  • An aside...of the 30 players, the names include Domingo Santana (2011), Correa, Jay Austin (2009), Delino Deshields Jr. (2011), Singleton (2010), and Anthony Gose (2009). That's encouraging for the Astros' talent evaluators.
  • Correa ranked 5th in BB/K, behind Profar, Orlando Arcia, Singleton, and Francisco Lindor.
  • He ranked 3rd in Batting Average, behind Jesus Montero and Jason Heyward.
  • He ranked 1st in OBP, and it wasn't close. Singleton was 2nd at .392.
  • Correa ranked 9th in Slugging %.
  • He ranked fifth in OPS (behind Giancarlo Stanton, Joey Gallo, Freddie Freeman, and Profar).
  • In wRC+, the most complete evaluater of plate performance, he ranked fourth, behind Stanton, Gallo, and Freeman.
  • Out of 174 qualifying players at A-ball in 2013, Correa had the 4th-highest OBP. Nobody ahead of him was younger than 20 years old.
  • Likewise with Batting Average. He was 4th of 174, and nobody above was younger than 20. Sensing a theme yet?
  • ln that group, Carlos Correa had the 6th-highest wRC+. Of those ahead of him, only Gallo was younger than 20 years old. Gallo had a 38% strikeout rate. Just sayin'.
Don't look now, but Carlos Correa had a pretty special season in 2013. His age at his level already put him in rarefied company, but his performance separated him from the pack. It's time to start talking about Correa again, ladies and gents. This season has more than justified the Astros' choice of him on day 1 of the 2012 draft, and anybody suggesting that he was picked solely so the Astros could save money for later picks should be soundly ridiculed. Numbers aren't everything, but they also don't lie. Carlos Correa posted one of the greatest 18-year-old seasons in the past decade of A-ball.

Time to start paying attention.

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