•Shortstop Carlos Correa was overall No. 1 pick in 2012
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• Joins Grizzlies after leading Texas League in every major stat category
• Will join team on road Tuesday, but a major league call-up could come soon
Carlos Correa, the top prospect in the Houston Astros farm system, is joining the Fresno Grizzlies.
Considered by some scouts as the next Derek Jeter and by others as a new-age Alex Rodriguez, the 20-year-old will start at shortstop for the Grizzlies tonight when they begin an eight-game road trip with a series against the Albuquerque Isotopes.
“This is our top prospect — probably the top prospect in all of baseball,” Grizzlies manager Tony DeFrancesco said Monday. “We’re excited to have him. For him, this is just another step toward trying to get to the big leagues. For a lot of us, he’s going to be fun to watch.”
Correa, the No. 1 overall pick in 2012 and considered a top-five prospect throughout baseball by MLB.com, quickly showed Double-A pitching was no match for him to start this season.
In 29 games for Double-A Corpus Christi, Correa led the Texas League in every major offensive category. He hit .385 with seven home runs, 25 runs and 32 RBIs. He cranked 15 doubles, generated a .726 slugging percentage and a 1.185 on-base plus slugging percentage.
Correa even notched 15 steals without ever getting caught. And defensively, Correa made just one error to 89 assists and 41 putouts for a .992 fielding percentage over 241 2/3 innings.
“Coming into the year we thought he needed to go to Double A,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow told The Houston Chronicle. “We weren’t sure for how long. I was thinking perhaps a couple of months, perhaps half a year depending on how he did.
“And quite frankly he performed better than I expected. It’s clear with what he’s done in the Texas League that he was ready for another challenge.”
Correa is arguably the highest-profile prospect to play for the Grizzlies in the franchise’s 18-year history, rivaled only by San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum.
And yet, there’s a chance Grizzlies fans might never see Correa in Fresno.
The Grizzlies hit the road to play in Albuquerque, N.M., then in El Paso, Texas, before returning to Chukchansi Park on May 21.
The Astros had been the hottest team in the American League through April. But they’ve lost five of their past seven.
Plus, the Astros have been missing starting shortstop Jed Lowrie, who underwent thumb surgery and isn’t expected to return until after the All-Star break.
A hot start by Correa in Triple-A might tempt the Astros to promote the native of Puerto Rico before the Grizzlies return home.
DeFrancesco said he wasn’t aware of Correa’s timetable in Triple-A. But he has been following the prospect’s progress at the lower levels.
“He’s killing the (Texas) league,” DeFrancesco. “He’ll start for us every day, get a breather when he needs it.
“He’s going to go out there and get better and learn Triple-A pitching.”
Correa even has been praised as being a good teammate and having an infectious, positive personality.
“He’s a good guy, incredibly talented,” said Grizzlies infielder Joe Scalifini, who played with Correa for a month in lower Class-A Quad City in 2013. “You could just tell that he had so many tools, was so talented. It didn’t matter that he was 18 (at the time) and everybody else was older.
“He’s not afraid. He’s going to be a treat to watch. He’ll help us win.”
But will Grizzlies fans ever see it?