Carlos Correa's first full season in professional baseball will begin as a member of the Quad Cities River Bandits.|
Less than a year after being selected as the top pick in the Major League Baseball Draft by the Houston Astros, the 18-year-old Correa was put on the Bandits' opening-day roster on Monday. Published reports announced the possible transaction two weeks ago, but the Midwest League assignment became official as the team arrived in the Quad-Cities.
Correa, who will be the Bandits' everyday shortstop in their first season as a Houston affiliate, is the first No. 1 overall pick to play for the club since Joe Mauer in 2002. Mauer, the top pick in 2001, played for the Bandits when they were the Minnesota Twins' full-season low-A affiliate.
"He's mature, very mature for his age," Bandits manager Omar Lopez said of Correa. "Tools-wise, he's able to compete. What's going to be a challenge for him is he's never been in a full season. He needs to prepare himself physically and continue what he did in the offseason and spring training to handle more than 90 percent of 140 games, which is tough. That's going to be a challenge."
Rated by Baseball America as the organization's top prospect, Correa is joined on the roster by highly touted right-hander Lance McCullers and infielder Rio Ruiz. Those two are ranked fourth and ninth, respectively, in the Astros' minor-league rankings.
All three still are in their teens.
"Ninety-five percent of our team is young kids," Lopez said. "They have never been in a full season. We're excited to have those guys and work with those guys. We'll do the best we can to take them to the next level."
The pitching staff includes right-handers Mike Hauschild, Jordan Jankowski, Cameron Lamb, Daniel Minor, John Neely, Gerardo Sanchez and Vincent Velasquez. Lefties are Joe Bircher, Colton Cain, Kyle Hallock, Brian Holmes and Mitchell Lambson.
Houston announced last week its pitchers will use a "piggyback system," meaning starters are teamed together and pitch a certain number of innings each every fifth day. Relievers will be used in certain situations or to finish games.
"(The 'piggyback system') will be strange at the beginning for them, but I don't think it's going to be an issue," Lopez said. "I spent a whole month with this pitching staff. They're very mature and willing to do what we say."
Joining Correa and Ruiz on the infield are Chase Davidson, Ryan Dineen, Carlos Perdomo, Joe Sclafini and Jesse Weirzbicki. Teoscar Hernandez, Terrell Joyce, Ariel Ovando and Jordan Scott are the outfielders. Catchers Roberto Pena and Jobduan Morales round out the roster.
Bircher, Davidson, Dineen, Holmes, Neely, Sclafini, Velasquez and Weirzbicki each helped the Tri-City ValleyCats to the short-season low-A New York-Penn League championship series last fall.
"We're going to prepare those guys to go out there and compete," Lopez said. " ... Those guys need to go out there, play hard, follow the rules, play for the team and respect the game. I can promise we'll compete."
Twenty-six players are listed on the roster, meaning one transaction will be needed before Thursday's season opener at Kane County. The maximum a club can have on its active roster is 25.
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