By his own admission, Carlos Correa has never been much of a hot starter. The numbers from his Minor League debut a year ago back that up.
The top overall pick in the 2012 Draft collected three hits in his first 27 at-bats in the Gulf Coast League after signing with the Astros last June. Before that, it took him a while to get his bat going at the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and High School.
In his first three games in the Midwest League, however, it's apparent that a new year and new level have brought on a new trend.
Correa went 4-for-7 with a career-high five RBIs and missed the cycle by a triple Saturday afternoon to lead the Class A Quad Cities River Bandits to a 13-10, 11-inning win at Kane County.
Through three games with the River Bandits, he's 6-for-15 with a homer, two doubles and eight RBIs.
"My first season, I definitely started a little slow," said the Astros' No. 2 prospect. "I think this might be the first time I've ever really started fast. But it's definitely a good thing. It means my plan is good and that I should keep it. Just keep my rhythm and keep working on pitch selection and this will happen."
Believe it or not, the day didn't begin well for the 18-year-old shortstop. After leadoff hitter Teoscar Hernandez singled and stole second base, Correa bounced back to Cougars starter Jose Arias.
When he stepped to the plate in the second inning, he applied the knowledge gleaned from his first plate appearance.
"My first at-bat, he got me with a fastball inside," Correa said. "So I knew that's what I should look for when I came up again. He gave it to me and I hit it solid."
The result was his first Class A home run, a two-run blast to left off Arias that capped a six-run frame for the River Bandits.
MLB.com's No. 30 overall prospect added an RBI single in the third, a run-scoring double in the seventh and completed his afternoon with another RBI base hit in the 11th. Needing a triple in his last two at-bats to complete the cycle, the Puerto Rico native said he was unaware of the feat.
"I wasn't thinking about it at all because I just figured out now that I needed the triple," said Correa, adding that he hit for the cycle once in high school.
It was the first four-hit game of his brief but promising career. He totaled three hits on two occasions with the GCL Astros, both in his final eight games before a promotion to the Appalachian League.
Correa's hot start should provide cause for optimism for an Astros fan base hungry for any morsel. After finishing with more than 100 losses each of the last two seasons, Houston has built one of the deeper farm systems in the game -- four prospects rank in the MLB.com's top 100 overall, including Correa -- with a keen eye on the future. And their potential star shortstop likes what he's experienced so far.
"It's really important to us the way they handle everything," he said. "The Astros are a team that is definitely focused on the future and I'm happy to be a part of that. What I need to do now is show them I can play and keep their confidence in me."
Catcher Roberto Pena went 3-for-4 with a solo homer, two walks and three runs scored for Quad Cities. Hernandez and Ryan Dineen each added three hits and two RBIs.
Kane County's Oliver Zapata matched Correa with five RBIs and finished 3-for-6 with a homer and triple.
"It's really fun to play in a game like that," Correa said. "It seems like everyone's driving in runs, and that means you're always in the game, no matter what. It's fun for me, too, because I know I have to be ready defensively at shortstop for anything that comes my way. Plus, anytime you get seven at-bats is fun."