Carlos Correa entered the year as one of baseball's most hyped prospects. As the season winds down, he's justified that hype while establishing himself as one of the best hitters in Class A.
The Astros' top prospect went 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles, a walk, an RBI, a stolen base and a run scored on Saturday night as Quad Cities dropped a 6-4 decision to visiting Burlington.
"[Correa] watches, he observes, he sits next to me after every at-bat and says, 'What you got for me? What do you see?'" River Bandits hitting coach Joel Chimelis said. "I have to tell him, 'Relax, you're doing well.' There are certain kids you have to pick and choose your battles with but not with Carlos. The more you give him, the more he gets."
The 18-year-old shortstop batted .221 in April but hit .349 in May and hasn't looked back. Lowering his hands and softening his stride so he could better stay back on the ball have turned MLB.com's No. 8 overall prospect into an offensive force and prompted manager Omar Lopez to drop him from the second spot in the lineup to the three-hole to see more breaking balls.
"He's a guy that if he looks bad on a breaking ball, he'll look for it," Chimelis said. "If they make a mistake, he's going to make them pay for it. The most amazing part about that is he makes adjustments pitch to pitch. To me, it's just a matter of maintaining the little things he does in his swing."
Correa has been on fire in August, batting .419 (26-for-62) to bring his season average to .332. That places him second in the Midwest League behind Devon Travis, who hit .352 for West Michigan before a promotion to the Florida State League.
"[Correa] has been able to make adjustments pitch to pitch, really watches the game and is able to make the adjustment to hit the ball to all fields," Chimelis said. "It's impressive to watch from such a young hitter. He takes the information and puts it into play, which is even more incredible."
Correa has hit eight home runs this season and 11 since being drafted first overall last year. But Chimelis believes the power will come as the teenager from Puerto Rico develops further.
"Being more selectively aggressive to a specific zone is what we're trying to do, so when he gets his pitch he's going to cause the most damage. He's got  doubles and it's just a matter of time until those doubles turn into homers," Chimelis said. "He's surprising. I think some of those ballparks that the big leagues play in, I think he'll hit 20 home runs easy, 20 to 25 some day. He's kind of like [Manny] Machado in Baltimore, he reminds you of his swing."
Correa's first-inning stolen base was his 10th in 19 tries this season.
"I don't think he's a very fast guy, he's pretty much average, but you can pick and choose at times to steal bases on certain counts after a certain pitch on a hitter," Chimelis said. "He definitely can steal more bases. I'd think he'd have to pick and choose the correct times, and that just comes with more experience."
Another area on which Correa has been working is his defense.
"He takes pride in his defense and he says, 'I want to stay in shape, I want to be a shortstop, I want to be a shortstop,'" Chimelis said. "He's so tall, he probably hears rumors about later on going to third base, but he says, 'No, I'm going to be a shortstop, I'm going to be a shortstop.' He's overall a very good baseball player with a very good head on his shoulders, support from mom and dad at home, and it's a pleasure working with him."
Chimelis also thinks Correa could advance quickly to higher levels.
"I don't know the plans for Carlos, but I can see him moving on up pretty quickly just because I was in Corpus Christi last year and had Jonathan Singleton and we worked on mechanics and just cleaning him up and, obviously, it went well. He was in Double-A," he said. "Carlos is there pretty much already mechanically, we just need to make sure he doesn't get away from certain things I look out for.
"He puts himself in real good position, he's a student of the game and he sees patterns. I get excited talking about him because I see him and work with him every day. And as a former hitter, I'm like, 'Wow, he's ahead of his time right now.'"
Astros No. 16 prospect Rio Ruiz and Roberto Pena also doubled for the River Bandits, while Bees leadoff man Sherman Johnson fell a homer shy of the cycle and scored twice.