The Houston Astros shocked baseball when they took 17-year-old Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa with the No. 1 pick in the draft, but in his first appearance as a newly-signed member of the organization, Correa made it clear he fully expects to be the best player of the 2012 draft.
"It's every young player's goal to get drafted," Correa said Thursday afternoon, his sparkling new No, 12 Astros jersey already on. "But my goal has always been to get to the Hall of Fame.
"To go into the Hall of Fame . . . that's all I want. That's my goal."
Say this for the new face of the Astros: He's not timid. Correa showed up at Minute Maid Park for introduction day shooting for the superstars. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow believes that Correa can grow into a middle of the lineup hitter, "an offensive powerhouse" as he put it on draft night in a memorable MLB Network interview. If anything, Correa is even more confident.
Let everyone else wonder if the Astros chose him in part because he'd be easier to sign than Stanford ace Mark Appel or Georgia high school phenom Byron Buxton. Correa himself has no doubt that the right player went No. 1.
"I want to be a leader," Correa said. "I want to be the face of the franchise. That's what I want. That's all I want to be."
Correa signed quick as can be with the Astros, taking $4.8 million, much less than the $7.2 million the Astros could have paid him under Major League Baseball's new draft sloting contract system. He dismissed a question about money, saying that "the real money" is made on the big league level and that's where he is trying to get. As quick as he can.
When a reporter asked Correa if he wanted to be in the Majors by age 20 — which would be a huge accomplishment — the shortstop himself didn't jump at it. In fact, Correa appeared to not want to be limited by that number.
"The quickest I can get there," Correa said of his own timeline.
The 6-foot-4, 190-pounder will wear No. 12 because he was drafted No. 1 in 2012 and because Puerto Rican icon Roberto Alomar wore No. 12 during his playing career. Correa cannot wait to get his career started. Little more than 10 minutes after he showed up in the press conference room, he was being whisked away to take batting practice and field some grounders as a little big league taste before the Astros game against St. Louis Thursday night.
Stay tuned to CultureMap for a full column on Correa's first day and what it means to the Astros franchise and owner Jim Crane.