We’ve been at the point as a fanbase over most the last decade where all we’ve had to be really excited about have been the debuts of highly touted prospects. (Read: this is what happens when you support a bad team).
We’ve gone through these motions before (for position players) with George Springer, Jon Singleton and most recently Preston Tucker. We get excited about each player’s first hit and a home run, try to draw conclusions from that player’s first (insert small sample size here) games, close our eyes and imagine the guy’s grandchildren helping the Houston Astros win a World Series championship in 100 years or so.
But I suggest to you that the emotions we went through surrounding Carlos Correa’s debut while similar to those we’ve gone through for those other guys are entirely different. This guy is just … different. At the risk of treading on this tired catchphrase, the future is now.
On Monday, Correa made his long-awaited debut at U.S. Cellular Field against the Chicago White Sox. Since I go to Northwestern University, which is in Evanston (about an hour-long “L” or car ride away from the Cell), there was little question as to whether I’d be in attendance. I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited to go to an Astros game as I was on that night, and I went to Game 3 of the 2005 NLCS.
As soon as he ran on the field, I was blown away. I’m sure this is visible on TV, but this guy, for lack of better terminology, is a straight up horse. Bear in mind, I was sitting in the upper deck, and I was still able to pass that judgment. He towers over everybody, and his arms are — well, I think @CollectinTex said it best on Twitter back in spring training:
I recorded his first hit and RBI on my phone, and while it wasn’t necessarily the prettiest base hit in the world (he was at first called out, but that ruling was soon overturned upon further review), I couldn’t help but feel like I had just captured something of great historical significance. I say that as somebody who absolutely hates when people wax hyperbolic about a rookie after a guy’s barely had a sip of coffee at the highest level.
And then there was his defense. My lord. I mean, the guy pulled off a Jeter-esque spin-and-throw play in his first game in the Majors.
And not only that, but he also unloaded an absolute laser strike out of that spin. You’re not supposed to be able to do that. I certainly can’t do that. There are several other Major League shortstops who cannot do that. And he unloads that cannon on every play, not just the dazzling ones. Again, this is probably visible on TV, but when you see his throws live in comparison to all the countless other throws in a Major League game, his arm really stands out.
On Tuesday, I had considerably better seats just to the right of home plate. I splurged a bit (and by a bit, I really mean “a bit.” White Sox tickets are crazy cheap on the secondhand market) to watch the Beard deal up close, and I got what I paid for. Dallas Keuchel, per usual, was not messing around on the hill, but took an unfortunate L thanks to an impressive golfed two-run shot by Jose Abreu on a pretty good low breaking pitch. Really, Chad Qualls deserves the L, but that’s not how baseball works.
Correa continued to impress, collecting his first stolen base after lining a solid base hit over shortstop in the top of the 6th. He’s not quite Billy Hamilton, but for a guy who’s 6’4″, he runs very, very well. He’s going to get his fair share of stolen bases in his career.
After Qualls’ sinker didn’t quite sink in the 8th and the Sox had the bases loaded with a 4-0 lead, I considered getting up and leaving. But then I remembered that Correa was due to bat in the 9th, so I reluctantly stayed. And boy, am I glad I did.
After taking a first-pitch fastball from reliever Zach Duke, Correa deposited a hanging changeup 398 feet deep into the warm Chicago night for his first career bomb. I’m somewhat embarrassed by a number of times I have watched this video that I captured on my phone.
The Astros lost on that night and then lost again on Wednesday, even though I wasn’t there. Their once cozy division lead grows more precarious with each loss, yet I feel a weird sense of comfort.
Even if this year isn’t “the year,” or if even 2017 isn’t “the year,” Carlos Correa is
going to be
a superstar. Correa has the potential to be one of the better players in his generation. He’s got a great eye at the plate, and there’s so little wrong with his approach and swing that even when he gets fooled, he looks good doing it. He’s got range and a machine gun for an arm. He’s got good speed. He’s truly got all the tools.
Oh, by the way, he’s just 20 years old. After watching him play in just two games, I can testify that the Astros organization has a gem here. This guy is the future of the franchise. Carlos Correa will be the cornerstone of the next great Houston Astros team.
But y’all already knew that, didn’t you?
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