Carlos Correa was drafted as the number one pick overall in the 2012 draft out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and High School. He will not turn 18 until September 22nd. He has responded well to his recent promotion from the GCL Astros to the Greeneville Astros and is hitting .407/.484/.667 in 8 games.
It didn't take Carlos Correa more than five seconds to leave me with a very favorable first impression. I had just met him and we were relocating to a different area to conduct the interview. I leaned over to pick up my camera case, but my hand never touched it. Carlos had already picked it up and insisted on carrying it for me.
Carlos' answers, conveyed in impeccable English, may sound like tired sports cliches to some of the more jaded among us, but nothing could be further from the truth. He is a very earnest young man and he meant every word as three themes emerged -- working hard, giving 100% and focusing on the goal, the goal being nothing short of a major league career.
And give 100%, he does. Tim over at Crawfishboxes was sitting nearby during Saturday's game and caught this terrific diving catch by Correa on video (about 1:50 in). He will leap and he will dive for anything hit anywhere near him. He is focused at the plate and I don't think you'll ever see this Carlos dogging it down the first base line.
Here is some of what he had to say (edited for brevity and clarity) ~
Biggest surprise/toughest part about playing pro ball: "Playing professional ball is really fun. The guys that come from high school [have] to get used to playing every day because in high school we don't do that. For me that's the tough part, playing every day. You've got to deal with that ... get focused, play hard and give your 100% every day."
On living away from his home in Puerto Rico: "I've done that before so I'm used to it. They [his family] know that I'm here to work hard, to reach my goals [and get] to the big leagues. It has not been a big deal for us."
What has he accomplished and what is he still working on?: "I have been working a lot in every aspect of the game, but we focus more on hitting because it's the most important part of the game. Right now I'm getting used to hitting every day and I feel really comfortable with all this work. We're just playing good, playing to win and trying to make the playoffs here in Greeneville."
Who are his friends on the team?: "My close friends right now are Lance McCullers and Rio Ruiz. We have been together in the GCL and now here so those are my closest friends right now here in Greeneville."
What would he do if he couldn't play baseball?: "I would study. If baseball doesn't work, I will go study and [get] a four-year degree and keep it going, do my job, work hard to do whatever I want to do. But right now, my goal is if God keeps me [in] good health, just play baseball and reach the big leagues." [What would he study?] "I like numbers. I would try to be an accountant."
Who on the team makes him laugh?: "These Dominican kids make me laugh every time. They're really funny and I like them a lot. I talk with [Ovando] a lot and I really enjoy talking with him. He's really funny. You never take him serious."
Any pressure as the first #1 pick from Puerto Rico?: "Right now, I don't feel any pressure. At the beginning like maybe starting professional ball, but right now I'm playing relaxed. I feel comfortable playing. I just focus on doing my work, try to do my best every time and give my 100% every time I touch the field."
Any words to Astros fans about the future?: "I would say that we've got a really good farm [system] down here. We've got a lot of good players so I think the future of the Astros will be good. The players that are coming, we are working really hard. We want to make the big team. We're focused on trying to be a winning team in the big leagues. Everyone in the organization wants to be in the big leagues with the Houston Astros. Right now the players that I know, like me and Lance and Rio are working really hard. We know what we want for our future. We want to make it and we're going to make the organization get better."
On the team chemistry in Greeneville: "To win is about a team, it's not about players and we as a team are playing really good. We're good friends. Everyone here gets along with the other and I think that's the key, being a good teammate and respect[ing] the game. That's important."
How has he liked the Astros organization so far?: "For me, the Astros organization is really good. They have a really good program, really good coaches that are here to help you out and make you better, and I think that's really good. I really like the organization and I like everything they do here to help us out."
Any final words?: "Thank God He gave me the ability and He gave me such great parents that [taught] me the correct way so I thank God for everything. I give Him the glory for everything. That's the most important part, having Him as first."
When I asked Carlos my standard question, "Can you tell me something about yourself that most people don't know and might be surprised to hear?," he couldn't think of a thing. He finally shrugged and said, "Baseball 24/7." Baseball is his life right now. Carlos' focus is baseball, pure and simple. And everyone already knows that.
When we finished the interview, Carlos gave me a hug. Impression complete. Impression very favorable.