Dear Mr. Jeff Luhnow – Promote Carlos Correa


Before the game Tuesday night in San Diego, Jed Lowrie was placed on the 15-day Disabled List. His ligament tear in his thumb requires surgery, and he is tentatively scheduled to return after the All-Star Break in July. For the time being Jonathan Villar and Marwin Gonzalez will take over duties at shortstop. The entire baseball world needs to demand the promotion of top prospect Carlos Correa.

There are some risks with promoting a player with fewer than 20 games at the Class AA level. But then again, risks are a part of baseball. Even further, risks are simply just a part of life. Correa could start similar to Addison Russell, who at the writing of this article, is 4 for 25 for a .160 batting average thus far for the Cubs. He was drafted in 2012 with the 11th overall pick. Eleventh.

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Mike Trout had significantly more playing time at Class AA prior to his call to the show. In 2011 as a 19-year old, Trout hit 18 doubles, 11 triples, and 13 home runs. That led to a .326/.414/.544 slash line in just 91 games.  Trout was subsequently promoted to the Los Angeles Angels. While he struggled to the tune of a .220 batting average, it was just a 40-game sample. From then on he went to play in the Arizona Fall League where his batting average was just .245.

The following year he applied what he learned and responded with a monster 20 game start in AAA with a .403/.467/.623 performance. The rest is history. He’s a three-time AL All-Star, a rookie of the year winner, and the reigning American League MVP. Trout was drafted in the first round of the 2009 with the 25th overall selection.

The same year that Trout made his debut, a little Venezuelan was tearing up the California League and then the Texas League. Again, his sample size is a little more than Correa’s, but Jose Altuve hit over .400 throughout 52 games to begin his 2011 campaign. A 35 game stint in the Texas League with a .361 batting average prompted the call up to an Astros team that would lose over 100 games. Despite that there was nobody in the lineup to protect him, Altuve performed with a .276 batting average in his debut to the major leagues.

There’s one more player that I would like to discuss briefly. If you’ve heard of him, pat yourself on the back. Devon Travis, who is currently playing with the Blue Jays, was slated to start in AAA this season. After a scorching performance in Spring Training in which he batted .359/.400/.453 in 64 at-bats, Travis found himself on the Opening Day Roster. And the second baseman, who was drafted in the 13th round of the 2012 draft, finds himself with a .368 batting average and an OPS well over 1.000 (1.140). Part of that success is due to 6 home runs through just 68 at-bats.

So we have a few players with varying degrees of minor league experience at or above Class AA. Russell and Travis are off to opposite starts, both of whom drafted after Correa in 2012. Trout initially struggled but has shown that he learned a lot and kept on improving. The verdict is still out on the little guy in Jose Altuve, but I think he’s achieved some of his big dreams.

We also have, for the most part, a lot of evidence that says Carlos Correa is ready to make the jump to the major leagues. The Astros despite a 13-7 record, are still struggling to hit for a decent batting average. They also have a game plan that is dependent on solid defense. Deploying Jonathan Villar at shortstop is a defensive liability, who has committed two errors in limited time this season, and currently has 25% of the team’s errors.

It is true that Correa only has a few at-bats at Class AA. Despite facing some of the best teams in the minor league system, Correa has flat out dominated. He’s currently .400/.468/.800 with five home runs, 11 doubles, one triple, and 22 RBI in 17 games. The games played is a small sample size compared to the assumption of approximately 550-600 at-bats this season for Carlos.

But his performance at Double-A comes directly after a Spring Training in which he kept up with Jed Lowrie hit for hit, strikeout-for-strikeout, and walk-for-walk. Here are their respective lines, try to identify which is which:

Player A: 20 games, 63 AB, 7 R, 14 H, 2B, 2 HR, .326/.370/.488

Player B: 16 games, 40 AB, 5 R, 13 H, 4 2B, HR, .325/.372/.550

Player B has begun the season a member of the Houston Astros. He had been, arguably, the best guy on the team slashing .300/.432/567 with four home runs and 10 RBI. Lowrie had been the most dependable guy on the team and the only man worthy of batting cleanup. Jed’s veteran experience is undoubtedly a factor in his early success, but the similarities between Lowrie and Correa in Spring Training are hard to ignore, especially after both faring extremely well in the early going.

Carlos Correa is likely to stay in Double-A for a bit longer. But with Lowrie out until the All-Star break, it’s time to give Nolan Fontana, Jiovanni Mier, or Carlos Correa the call to the major leagues. Jed would need to be moved to the 60-day DL in order to facilitate someone being added to the 40-man roster. The precedence of fewer upside guys enjoying major league success combined with less than full seasons of experience in the upper levels of the minor leagues is encouraging. Along with all of the praise that Correa has received strongly suggests that Carlos is ready. Jeff Luhnow, if you think the 12-7 start is no fluke, you’ll make the call.

Next: CC Hooks Update

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