Correa Shines In Loaded Year For Puerto Rico

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See Also: Video of Correa taking BP at the Excellence Tournament

CAGUAS, P.R. —  When shortstop Carlos Correa first transferred to the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy three years ago, there wasn't any fanfare or hype involved. Coming from Raham Baptist Academy, there was little reason to believe Correa may soon become his country's most prized draft pick.

"When he came to us, he was a lanky kid, a little bit raw," said Puerto Rico Baseball Academy coach Carlos Berroa, who also serves as a Marlins scout. "He had some tools with him, but needed to refine them and obviously he's done that really well."

Now, Correa looks like a surefire top 10 pick and will likely become the highest-drafted player ever out of Puerto Rico. That label is currently held by catcher Ramon Castro, who was picked 17th overall by the Astros in 1994, three months before Correa was born.

A graceful athlete standing 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, Correa can do it all on the field.

"He's got a whole package of tools," Berroa said. "He's a guy who's going to hit, he's got power, he has a gun for an arm, he's got excellent actions and hands. Perhaps his lowest tool is his speed because you're going to project that he's going to get a lot bigger than he is, but the tool package is very good."

Because of his tools, Correa has drawn comparisons to some franchise players in the big leagues.

"Guys that come to my mind are Troy Tulowitzki and Ryan Zimmerman," Berroa said. "Those guys come to mind right off the bat because of their defensive skills and obviously their offensive potential."

Opinions differ among scouts as to wheter Correa will stick at shortstop like Tulowitzki or move to third base like Zimmerman. Correa has played shortstop since he was 5 years old and he doesn't plan on giving up the position any time soon, no matter what scouts say.

"Every scout that tells me that, I absolutely tell them that I want to stay at short," Correa said. "I'm going to work for it. I'm going to work hard to stay at short because that's my position. I love to play there."

Berroa knows first-hand that when Correa puts his mind to something, he can make it happen.

"This past October, when we were in Jupiter (Fla.), I was telling the kids in a meeting the night before the first game (of the World Wood Bat Association World Championship) that I had been coming to this event for eight years and I'd only seen two homers," Berroa said. "One of them was by Matt Sweeney and one was by Rey Navarro, who was a student of our's at the Academy, as well. And Correa looked at me and winked and said, 'Before it's all over, you're going to see a third one.' And, funny enough, the last game we were playing in Jupiter, he hit a line drive over the right-field wall and when he ran the bases, he kind of winked at me again and said, 'Three!' "

"That's the kind of kid he is. He takes pride and he loves challenges and he doesn't hide from the challenges."

Sky's The Limit

In addition to his tools, Correa stands out just as much for everything else he does. He's bilingual and maintains a 4.0 grade-point average. He has a full scholarship to Miami and said he would like to be an accountant if it weren't for baseball. He's a natural leader on the field and he's still just 17 years old, making him one of the youngest players in this year's draft class.

Correa also has the confidence needed to survive in a game where failure happens more than success, along with the humble humility to see the bigger picture.
"My ultimate goal in baseball is to reach the Hall of Fame," Correa said. "But my goal in life is to be a good person and help a lot of kids if they need my help. My goal is to make a lot things so people can remember me and they can say, 'Carlos Correa was a great guy that helped other people and was a good player, too.' "

"He's got a good heart and a very strong family background," Berroa said. "He is a better person than he is a player, and it shows. He's a special kid."

And then, there's his work ethic, passion and dedication.

Correa lives about an hour and a half from his school, so he has to wake up at 4:30 every morning to get ready. He rides to the school with one of the baseball coaches, former major leaguer Francisco Melendez.

"I'm sleeping every day, so he calls me his roommate," Correa said.

Once at school, Correa has classes from 8 a.m. to noon and then baseball practice from 1 p.m. to 4:30. When he gets home around 7, he works out with his father or a personal trainer before going to bed and doing it all again the next day.

"It's a tough thing to do, but he does it with a smile every day, does great work and never uses that as an excuse," Berroa said. "He always had a good attitude and excellent work ethic. He wants to be the best.

"He's hungry to learn everyday and he studies the game. It's very unlikely that he'll make the same mistake twice. He's the kind of guy who makes adjustments right away. Hard work with tools? The sky's the limit."