Astros Give Correa Place In History

HOUSTON—The Astros insist that this isn't the off-the-board pick that most outside the draft room make it out to be. And maybe that just speaks to how wide the board was that ended up producing 17-year-old Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft.

From what they referred to as a "universe" of seven picks emerged Correa, whom the Astros love for his power, his good instincts on defense and makeup that they observed first-hand and through talking as deep as teachers at the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy where he attended non-traditional high school.

The pick may also come with some signability attached to it. The Astros chose a potential tough sign at No. 41 overall in righthander Lance McCullers Jr. and may need to eat into some of the $7.2 million slot for Correa in order to sign both of them. Much of the last several days before the draft was spent in indecision and conversations with players and their advisors.

But in Correa, instead of a fast-tracked college pitcher, the Astros took a long-term project whom they expect can turn into a star. It was the first selection of general manager Jeff Luhnow's career with the Astros and continued a trend for assistant general manager of scouting Bobby Heck, whose five drafts in Houston have all started with an up-the-middle position player.

"When you get offense in the middle of the field, most of your championship clubs over time have been built that way," Heck said. "When you have an athlete of this caliber and this type of impact power, you just can't pass on that. You don't have a chance to get it with your next pick."

Correa is listed at 6-foot-4, 190 pounds and his size and potential to grow given his youth have the Astros wondering whether he is a shortstop to stay or will eventually have to move to third base.

"That's any risk when you take a younger player, especially now he's 17 years old and has a big frame," Heck said. "But he has advanced feet, advanced hands, he can really throw. Right now he stays at shortstop and if he does happen to grow out of it, it's the power that's the attraction here."

Correa expects to remain a shortstop as a professional.

"I can play either but I want to play shortstop," Correa said. "I want to reach the big leagues as a shortstop. So I have to work hard to keep my agility and my feet quick and keep my body in shape to be a shortstop."

The Astros had been following Correa on the showcase circuit, where he was a fixture, and they worked him out with their extended spring training players in late May.

"He was 3-4 years younger than most of the players on the field, and he was the only amateur and he absolutely stood out among the professionals that were down there," said Luhnow, who attended the session.

Comfortable with his tool set and comfortable with how he interacted with the pros on the field, the Astros were comfortable making him their third ever No. 1 overall pick and the first No. 1 ever to come from Puerto Rico.

Space Shots

• Luhnow said the Astros were thrilled to find McCullers still on the board at No. 41 and called the pick a no-brainer. "We feel like this spring he really took a step forward and became a pitcher," Luhnow said. "He used to be a thrower."

• Outfield prospect Domingo Santana, acquired in the Hunter Pence trade, went on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Santana was hitting .272 with a .532 slugging percentage for high Class A Lancaster.