Monday, June 8, 2015

A Brief Interview with Astros SS Carlos Correa

[I had saved my brief late May interview with Correa to post in conjunction with the first day of the MLB draft. With yesterday's announcement that Correa is being called up to the Bigs today, even more reason to get to know Carlos just a wee little bit better.]

In honor of today's draft, let's check in with former 2012 number one overall draft pick, SS Carlos Correa. I had the chance to watch Correa in action at the beginning of May in Corpus Christi and again toward the end of May in Fresno after his promotion to the AAA club and it was an eye-opening experience. Just seeing how much he is enjoying himself, how loose and relaxed he is, is a wonderful thing to see.

Carlos Correa - May 2015
Photo by Jayne Hansen

With Correa, the talent has always been undeniable, as has his work ethic, his determination and his maturity. During my recent visit to Fresno, Manager Tony DeFrancesco said of Correa, "Carlos is definitely a professional. It's good to see a young player like that with that kind of tools and ambition and excited to play the game of baseball."

When I spoke with Correa, I decided to take a little different tack in my first question. I went back to three years ago when his friendship with 2012 draft members RHP Lance McCullers, OF Brett Phillips and 3B Rio Ruiz (since traded to the Braves) was first formed and asked him if that friendship foursome was still intact. According to Correa, "Yeah, yeah, of course. We still talk a lot, especially with Lance. I've been playing with him my entire professional career. I talk to him the most, but, yeah, I stay in touch with Rio and Brett. I called Brett the other day to see how he was doing. He's doing pretty well in the Cal League and Rio is working hard and doing his thing out there with the Braves. We stay in touch. We're really good friends so our relationship is going to be there forever."

McCullers was promoted to AAA for about a nanosecond before being called up to the big club and was with the Fresno team when he got that call. Of that moment, Correa told me, "I literally cried with him when he got called up. We were all sitting in the clubhouse in Albuquerque and all of a sudden, he's saying that he's only 21 years old and all this stuff, and all of a sudden he says he's going to pitch on Monday against the A's. I was like 'what?' And he goes, yeah, I'm going to The Show. Wow! I gave him a hug and congratulated him because it was a great accomplishment for him and he totally deserved it. He was doing a great job in the minor leagues and I think he deserved that call up."

I also asked Correa about my perception that he seemed much looser and more relaxed after the injury that derailed his season in 2014 than he had before. After assuring me that he always has fun playing baseball, he did admit that, "Just after the injury, everything was different. I enjoyed playing baseball even more than I used to. You appreciate it more when you're not able to play and you want to be out there."

Correa continued, "In Corpus, Rodney was a great manager. We had a great atmosphere there, great ballplayers. We were winning games. I was doing really good. You have to smile when everything is going right for you and your team. You've got to go out there and have fun every single day. I have fun all the time. Sometimes you've just got to be more serious. I always try to have fun with the guys, especially in Corpus. I've known those guys a long time. They're like family already."

The last thing that Correa told me was that he was just trying to reach his goals, "just trying to make it to the big leagues at some point this year." When I told him that I thought Astros fans would see him in June, Correa smiled broadly and said, "Hopefully!" Indeed.

Thank you for your time, Carlos. It was a pleasure getting to know you just a little bit better. Best of luck in your big league debut!


Other recent interviews:
1B Jon Singleton
LHP Bryan Radziewski
1B A.J. Reed
RHP Joe Musgrove
3B J.D. Davis
LHP Albert Minnis

You can find more on virtually every player in the Astros minor league system in the 2015 Houston Farm System Handbook available on Amazon for download to your kindle, iPad, laptop, desktop or smart phone.

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