New state. New league. New level. Same old Carlos Correa.
The top Astros prospect lit up the California League on his first night out West, collecting three hits and driving in four runs as Class A Advanced Lancaster raced past Lake Elsinore, 8-2, on Thursday night.
The No. 1 pick in the 2012 Draft wasted no time getting himself acquainted with his new surroundings. With leadoff hitter Anthony Kemp at second base and one out in the bottom of the first inning, Correa singled to center to give the JetHawks a 1-0 lead.
"The fans were going crazy," Correa said of his first trip to the plate. "You get that first AB out of the way with a hit and RBI, it kind of makes you feel more relaxed, ready to keep having fun and play the game. It was great. The fans got excited real quick. It was the first inning. I got more relaxed. I was like, 'OK, let's go play now.'"
With an offseason and Spring Training under his belt coming off his first full-season campaign a year ago, Correa still noticed some marked differences in quality of play in the Cal League.
"Today, I got 3-2 curveballs," he explained. "I got a 3-1 slider. I got all this stuff, so yeah, they pitch a little bit different. They're pitching backwards, so you've just got to adjust to it, look for your pitch and don't miss it."
After Lake Elsinore drew even in the top of the third, Correa once again singled and drove home Kemp to put Lancaster back in front 2-1.
Correa added his third RBI of the day on a fifth-inning groundout. In the sixth, MLB.com's No. 8 prospect helped the JetHawks blow the game open with a two-out, two-run single that extended Lancaster's advantage to 8-1.
"Tony Kemp, he got on base four times," Correa said. "It's great to have the leadoff guy on the bases all the time. We have a lot of guys here that can hit, a lot of talent on this team. It was great teamwork tonight."
Lancaster starter Vincent Velasquez allowed one run on two hits while striking out seven over four frames. Kyle Westwood earned the win with four innings of one-run relief.
Joe Ross, the Padres' 10th-ranked prospect, took the loss after allowing four runs on eight hits over five innings.
Correa and his teammates arrived in California fresh off a cross-country trip from Astros Spring Training in Florida. The journey did not seem to have fazed the Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico native.
"I like it out here. It's a great town. The fans support baseball a lot," Correa said. "It's pretty much the same team I had in Quad Cities. A lot of guys are here again with me, so it's been great so far."
The offense-friendly reputation of the Cal League certainly doesn't hurt.
"It makes it feel like you don't have to swing as hard to be able to drive the ball or drive it out of the ballpark," Correa said. "Just keep your good swing and get a good pitch to hit and drive it. That gives you a lot more confidence."