Fresno Grizzlies shortstop Carlos Correa delivered the game-winner Sunday.
And then he said goodbye.
To his Grizzlies teammates. To Fresno. And perhaps to minor league baseball forever.
In what might’ve been his final at-bat in the minors, Correa drove in the winning run with a walk-off sacrifice fly that propelled the Grizzlies to a 15-14 win against the Reno Aces.
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Moments later, the Houston Astros called up their prized prospect — a much anticipated move that comes after Correa, 20, played 24 games in Triple-A with the Grizzlies.
“It’s great,” Correa said. “It’s just a great feeling to be able to go to ‘The Show’ right now. I’m just really blessed right now that the Astros have given me the opportunity, at 20 years old, to go up there and try to help them win games.
“It’s just a great moment for me and my family. Now I want to go out and perform at the big-league level and try to stay consistent and play up there for a long time.”
Correa is scheduled to join the Astros on the road Monday against the Chicago White Sox and Cy Young candidate Chris Sale. He’s expected to start at shortstop and hit sixth.
17-8 Grizzlies record while Correa was with team
Correa finished his Grizzlies career hitting .276 (27 for 98) with three homers, 10 extra-base hits, 19 runs and 12 RBIs. He had an on-base percentage of .345, stole four bases in five attempts and committed five errors. The Grizzlies went 17-8 with Correa (he sat out one game).
Prior to joining the Grizzlies, Correa crushed Double-A for 29 games en route to leading the Texas League in every major offensive category before his promotion to Fresno.
During his visit to Chukchansi Park late last month, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow called Correa a once-in-a-generation type of player and said the club wanted to wait to promote him until the Astros’ management felt Correa would never have to return to the minors again.
The delayed promotion also allows the Astros to keep Correa under contract for a bit longer stretch before having to potentially give him a significantly larger contract.
Correa, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft, expressed confidence to succeed in the majors.
“I’ve been feeling ready since Double-A; I thought I was ready then,” Correa said. “But I was not getting desperate. I was just waiting for my time and when the Astros thought that my time was right. So if they think my time is right, it’s because I’m ready.
“You’ve got to learn how to be patient in this game. I’m just going to go out there and perform and help the Astros win games.”
Correa’s promotion comes with the Astros on a four-game losing streak, and four hours after Houston lost 7-6 to the Toronto Blue Jays in part because shortstop Jonathan Villar fumbled a routine popup in the ninth inning.
“We really feel like he can help our club right now win ballgames,” Luhnow said. “We’ve scuffled a little bit in these last few days, and we feel like Carlos gives us the best chance to win.
“We want to keep our division lead and we want to win this division. We think he’s a big part of what we can do.”
Following the Grizzlies’ win Sunday, Fresno manager Tony DeFrancesco took a call from Luhnow then huddled the team in the clubhouse.
From the start, he made it sound as if he was calling a team meeting to talk about playing in hot weather. (Sunday’s afternoon game was played in a broiling 90-plus degrees.)
“Get used to the heat in Fresno,” DeFrancesco said. But then he changed topics.
“Guys, there comes a time when a kid gets a chance to go to the big leagues.”
Then DeFrancesco turned to Correa: “Carlos, this is your day.”
Correa promoted with the Astros on a four-game losing streak
Grizzlies players immediately swarmed Correa again, just has they had on the field after his winning RBI.
“The guy is a quality guy,” DeFrancesco said. “Carlos, for a 20-year-old kid, his maturity, his field awareness is off the charts.
“He’s going to do great. He’s going to help the Astros get to the playoffs this year and be part of a winning organization for years to come.”