Healthy Correa eager to resume big league quest

Healthy Correa eager to resume big league quest

KINGWOOD, Texas -- Had Astros top prospect Carlos Correa not broken his right ankle sliding into third base last summer while playing at Class A Advanced Lancaster, he likely would have finished the year at Double-A Corpus Christi and put himself in position to reach the Majors early this season.

The 20-year-old shortstop refuses to call the injury, which required season-ending surgery, a setback, even though he's likely headed to Corpus Christi to begin this season. Now that he's 100 percent recovered, Houston is still very much on Correa's radar. So much so that he's thought about what it will be like to get that call.

"I can't wait for the moment to be up there," Correa said Friday morning during an Astros Caravan stop at Kingwood Middle School. "When you think about it too much, you get antsy and it can be kind of stressful during the season, because sometimes you're playing good and you're not getting called up. It's kind of frustrating, so when you do think about it, you go out and play and do your best every single day."

Injury might be the only thing holding back Correa, who has shone brightly since being taken by the Astros with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. Prior to getting hurt last year, he was hitting .325 with six homers and 57 RBIs in 62 games at Lancaster, with an on-base percentage of .416 and an OPS of .926.

Correa played the entire 2013 season at Class A Quad Cities at 18 years old and was impressive. He hit .320 with 33 doubles, nine homers, 86 RBIs and a .405 on-base percentage. Despite being the second-youngest player in the Midwest League, he led the league in OPS (.872), while ranking second in on-base percentage and third in batting average.

The ankle is now fully healed, and Correa will come to spring camp next month with no restrictions.

"I feel great," he said. "I spent a couple of months in Kissimmee [Fla.] doing the rehab, and I went back home and I was ready to go. I've been doing everything, working out and going to the ballpark and hitting the track. I'll be at 100 percent."

Correa could still make his big league debut at some point this year, but he would likely have to spend some time at the Triple-A level first. The Astros signed Jed Lowrie to a three-year contract to play shortstop, but he could be moved to third in the future to accommodate Correa.

The focus for Correa this spring will be making a good impression on new manager A.J. Hinch, whom he was looking forward to meeting this week.

"I'm really anxious, because I want to show them I'm ready and I'm back and my ankle is feeling great," he said. "In the offseason, I kept working on it and trying to get healthy and trying to get strong and fast and explosive, and I've accomplished it with hard work. I'm kind of excited to show them I'm ready to play and be the guy I used to be, and even better."

Correa spent his first day on the Astros Caravan on Friday with Chris Carter and Max Stassi, talking to a group of eighth-grade students during career day. He was as comfortable and impressive talking to the kids as he is on the field.

"I love to do this for the club, for the organization and I like it myself," Correa said. "It's fun to get to talk to other people, to meet other people and share special moments like this."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.