There always seems to be a guy that is recognized as a good talent but really isn't considered as true top five draft prospect until the few months before the draft. This year it's Carlos Correa. This young right-handed short-stop has shot up draft boards the past few months and is now firmly a top five prospect. It's not really that hard to see why. He's a phenomenal athlete and he's just 17! The downside is that he's played in Puerto Rico and hasn't faced a lot of competition outside of the Area Code Games.
Let's talk about his bat. Currently, he's really raw but has progressed a lot this spring which is the main reason for his helium. You don't typically see huge jumps between current scouting grades and projected scouting grades, but ESPN has him currently at a 35 and projected at a 60. A 25 grade jump is quite big, but his hand-eye coordination is elite. Power wise, ESPN has him currently at a 40 with a 60 projected power rating. That's a 20 jump. I normally wouldn't buy that kind of jump, but I can see it with him. The power right now is evident in BP, but he's really more of warning track guy right now. As his body fills out into the 210 pound area, he'll really tap into that power. The power projection is good enough to allow him to still be a prospect at 3B.
At 6-4, 190 pounds, he is long and lean with the ability to produce leverage. Leverage isn't the most important thing for power, but it's a factor. What he's really able to create power with is that he produces plenty of torque with his hips and arm extension. His contact ability is from his hand-eye coordination which I've already described as elite and a line drive approach. He has also has quick wrists which don't hurt either. There may be one negative aspect about his hitting, he extends his arms early in his swing which hurts his ability to hit inside fastballs.
In the field, he's quick to react and has great instincts on how to field the ball. He's not overly fast, but those instincts allow for him to still have above-average range. He's athletic and can get into a good position to field the ball no matter where he has to range and the hands are soft enough to real anything in. His arm is probably the best tool he has in the field and the release is quick.
The bad news is that many scouts think he'll fill out to the point where he grows out of the SS position into a 3B. Remember I said he wasn't that fast and still has range because of instincts? Well, if he's that much slower, he may not have range for SS. Although, some scouts think he'll stick.
Could he be our next Jimmy Paredes? A very toolsy IF who once played SS and then played 2B because of footwork and then 3B because he has the arm for it and we needed one. He's not a switch-hitter like Paredes, but he could have that versatility and tools while struggling to hit.
Correa is getting a lot of comparisons to uber-prospect Manny Machado for his frame, hitting ability, and power potential. Machado is currently ranked #14 by Baseball America, so I'd like to add that to the system. Ultimately, his ceiling depends on sticking at SS while his power developing into a .280 hitter with 20 HR's. But, even if his growth pushes him to 3B, and his bat develops, he's still a great player because he'll be a plus-plus defender there.
Projected Draft Round
Definitely in the top 10 picks, and as high as 1-1. John Sickels even ranked him the top draft prospect in the draft yesterday. This is where the debate starts. Do you take him at 1-1 or pass on him for someone else you feel is better. Is there someone better?
College Commitment: Miami (FL)
Will he sign?
I think he signs! If the Astros take him at 1-1, there would be absolutely no reason not to sign. Top five picks just sign.
Bibliography after the jump
Correa is one of the youngest top prospects in this year's draft as a true 17-year-old, and while he's likely to outgrow shortstop he could be a monster at third base as his body, already well developed for his age, fills out.
He has absurd hand-eye coordination as a hitter with pull power now that is going to be at least plus in the future; he gets tremendous torque from his hip rotation and stays extremely balanced through contact, even as he whips the bat through the zone. Correa has the athleticism and arm to stay at short now, but it's hard to foresee his body playing there when he's 23 or 24; he should be comfortably above-average at third if not better, as his feet move well and he has plenty of arm strength.
He could easily end up the best player out of this draft, given his youth and upside at the plate.
Summation: Physically impressive with remaining physical projection. Still extremely young and very raw offensive player. Has strength and bat speed for power projection. Actualization of that power hinges on the development of his hitting ability which remains extremely unrefined and is the biggest question mark in his game. Believers in the bat project him as a potential .280 hitter with 15-plus home runs a year, from a premium defensive position. Some scouts are more pessimistic, wondering if he will ever hit enough to be a regular. Has defensive fundamentals to stick at shortstop, but his body may say otherwise. Very hard worker with a desire to improve and advance. High character kid that may will himself to success. Potential everyday guy that contributes across the board offensively and sticks on the left side of the infield.
Correa is the highest ranked shortstop in the draft, although like most prep shortstops, he’s no guarantee to stick at the position. He’s got above average tools defensively, with an above average arm and above average range. However, he may fill out his body, eventually forcing a move to third base. Correa is an above-average hitter, with the potential to hit for power. That power potential will really come when he fills out his body, meaning it will be part of what could move him to third base.
Correa’s stock has really gone up this year. He entered the season as a mid-first round prospect, but is considered a top five pick right now. He would be a great pick for the Pirates if he fell to number eight, but the chances of that happening are slim.
High school middle infielders who have the tools to stay at shortstop long term aren't always easy to find. That's a big reason why Correa is so high on Draft lists at this point.
Defensively, Correa is above average across the board -- range, arm and actions -- leaving no question about his ability to stay at short. He can swing the bat, too, with the potential to be an above-average hitter with outstanding power. He's a solid baserunner who is better underway and has off-the-charts work ethic and baseball instincts.
Correa's swing can get a little long at times and he will occasionally get out of his game plan at the plate. But that's just nitpicking and the only thing that could keep Correa from being the highest draftee from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy is his commitment to Miami.
What to Love: When Jeff and I visited the practice field preceding the Perfect Game All-American Game last summer, there was one player that we agreed was the most impressive prospect of the bunch. His name: Carlos Correa. It’s not often you see a shortstop with a refined line drive approach, strong defensive skills and enough power potential to raise an eyebrow, yet that’s exactly what Correa represents. This native of Puerto Rico may be the most impressive high school position prospect this side of Byron Buxton. Though just about every tool in his game is impressive, it’s Correa’s bat that makes him special. Correa takes a very direct route to the ball, using his quick hands to stroke liners all over the field. He’s not an uber power prospect by any means, but Correa’s power with wood is already materializing and there’s plenty more to dream on for the future. Correa’s actions in the infield are excellent and are only outdone by his arm-strength, allowing him to have tremendous defensive upside no matter what position he ends up at.
Correa is making a strong case to be selected early in 2012, as he is a high schooler with a chance to stick at shortstop, a rarity among prep products. He is above-average across the board defensively with a strong arm, range and actions that all point to a future at short. Even if he outgrows the position, he would certainly project to be a plus third baseman in the future. He runs a 6.79 60 and has good instincts on the bases. Even with his very good defensive tools, he is not a glove only guy, as he has potential to be a solid hitter as well, even though he is very raw at the plate at this point.
The second-youngest player in Baseball America's High School Top 100, Correa won't turn 18 until September after the signing deadline. That makes his physical build and present tools even more impressive. Correa has a pro body at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds with a high waist and room to fill out. Despite his large frame, he's light on his feet and shows fluid actions at shortstop with soft hands and above-average arm strength. Correa is a little raw at the plate and is currently a free swinger, but has some strength and hits the ball hard when he makes contact. He's an above-average runner now but may slow down as he fills out. Being a first-round pick this June could keep him away from his Miami commitment.