HOUSTON — The Houston Astros were looking for a player who could become the face of this struggling franchise with the No. 1 pick in this year's draft.
The more they learned about Carlos Correa, the surer they were that he could become just that.
Houston loved the talent and skills of the 17-year-old shortstop. But they were just as impressed with him as a person.
Correa, who starred at the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, is bilingual has a 4.0 G.P.A.
"There were some really good choices in this draft so it was not a clear cut decision, but the more we probed, the more we thought about where we are as an organization and the types of skills and people that we need, this player just continued to scream out at us that this was the one we needed to take," Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow said.
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound player is the first shortstop taken first overall since Tampa Bay chose Tim Beckham in 2008, and the fourth shortstop taken with the top pick since 1994. He's also the highest drafted player from Puerto Rico.
Houston scouting director and assistant general manager Bobby Heck and his scouts spoke to many people at the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy when they were preparing for the draft and received only good reviews.
"We talked to the coaches and the staff there and we also talked to the teachers and the more we dug up, the more positives there were," Heck said. "His talent speaks for itself, but when you find out about the other side of the player it made it easy to select him."
The Astros have had a tough few years, but fell to a franchise-worst 56-106 last season. The current team is one of the youngest in baseball and has few recognizable names after former general manager Ed Wade traded away stars such as Lance Berkman, Michael Bourn, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence for mostly young prospects in the last two years.
They believe that Correa can be a great shortstop for the team, but are most excited about his skills on offense, where they feel like he could develop into a player who could hit 20-30 home runs.
"He's an overachiever," said Luhnow, who is in his first season with the Astros after working for the Cardinals for several years. "This is a guy that's driven to be successful and is exactly the type of player that we need ... he's the talent we see as the guy that has the best chance to be an impact player for the Astros for a long time to come."
Correa doesn't have a specific timetable in mind for when he'd like to reach the majors.
"Just the quickest that I can," he said on a conference call Monday night. "I don't know a number of years right now, but I just want to do it as quick as I can."
Correa, who said his favorite player is Derek Jeter, is committed to the University of Miami, but Luhnow is confident he'll end up an Astro instead, saying: "I suspect Miami will not see him unless he's visiting some friends."
Heck and Luhnow knew that they'd need a player like Correa to deal with everything that comes along being a high draft selection. They believe he will have no problem adjusting to life as a professional baseball player.
"He's also going to be a millionaire real soon," Heck said. "He's got changes coming in his life, but how he's built and how he's made we feel very comfortable that the draft is not his finish line, being a major league All-Star is his finish line."