Correa bids Houston farewell with big night

Club's top prospect homers, doubles in Corpus Christi's exhibition loss

Carlos Correa headed back to Minors camp after batting .341 in 18 big league spring games. (Mark LoMoglio/MiLB.com)

By MiLB.com Staff | April 2, 2015 11:42 PM

Judging by the way he introduced himself to a sellout crowd at Whataburger Field on Thursday, Carlos Correa seems right at home in Double-A Corpus Christi. The Astros' top prospect homered and doubled in the Hooks' 7-4 exhibition loss.

Reassigned to Minor League camp this week, Correa left the Astros with an impressive Spring Training slash line of .341/.372/.512 in 18 Major League games. Thursday night, MLB.com's No. 3 prospect made his mark one more time before getting down to the business of the Minor League season.

Batting third in his Corpus Christi debut, Correa connected on a solo homer leading off the bottom of the eighth inning against Houston reliever Darin Downs.

Upon his cut from Major League camp, Correa told MLB.com, "I was playing here in big league camp and I faced pitchers like [Jordan] Zimmermann, [Mat] Latos and all those guys, and I did pretty well. It's baseball, man. You get better every single level you go up. I'll probably be facing the same guys I faced last year in [Class A Advanced] Lancaster and just have to go out there and play baseball."

Corpus Christi will begin the year with six of MLB.com's top-10 Astros prospects including Correa and right-hander Mark Appel (No. 2). The Hooks outhit their big league counterparts, 12-9, but registered just three hits in nine chances with runners in scoring position. Third baseman Colin Moran (No. 6) singled twice, scored a run and added an RBI while center fielder Teoscar Hernandez (No. 8) added a single and a run.

The golden rule: Organizations using their Rule 5 Draft picks hope they can grab a player who has the abilities to stick on a Major League roster for the entire season. Players who are picked hope they're taken by a club that has the right roster opening for them.

In that sense, Odubel Herrera and the Phillies may be perfect for each other. 

Soon after being named Philadelphia's starting Opening Day center fielder, Herrera went 3-for-4 with a solo home run in the Phillies' 10-1 loss to the Rays. 

The showing was the club's No. 16 prospect's second three-game hit of the spring and pushed his Grapefruit League average up to .355.

The homer to right-center field, his second of the spring, came in the third off Rays right-hander Nathan Karns.

The Phillies, who are in a rebuilding phase at the Major League level, took the 23-year-old Venezuela native from the Rangers in the Rule 5 Draft this offseason with the hope that he'd play in the outfield, despite the fact that played only 13 games in the outfield during the 2014 season. Only three of those starts came in center. At the plate, he owned a .315/.383/.388 line with two homers, five triples, 19 doubles and 21 steals between Double-A Frisco and Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach. He was named MVP and Rookie of the Year in the Venezuelan Winter League, where he batted .372 with six homers and a .988 OPS in 58 games. 

"He kind of fits the bill of what we were trying to do," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told MLB.com earlier this week. "We were trying to get younger, a little more athletic. He's got good energy; he's got a decent package. Is he going to be a .300 hitter toward the top of our lineup or wherever [Ryne Sandberg] puts him? I don't know. We're going to give him a shot. That's what this season is about."

Herrera hit second in the Phillies lineup Thursday, and that's where he's expected to feature come Opening Day. 

Apart from serving up Herrera's homer, Karns pitched well after coming on in the third inning for the Rays. Tampa Bay's No. 11 prospect fanned eight Phillies and allowed one run on five hits and two walks in six innings.

Refsnyder's last impression: The Yankees announced earlier in the day that No. 5 prospect Robert Refnsyder would start the season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and the second baseman went 2-for-3 with an RBI in the Yankees' 6-2 win over the Pirates. The 24-year-old right-handed hitter, who batted .318 with an .884 OPS between two levels in 2014, improved his spring average to .357. He was in contention for the Yankees second-base job, but concerns over his defense pushed him back to the RailRiders. 

No. 2 Yankees prospect Aaron Judge and Greg Bird (No. 4) singled in their only at-bats of the afternoon with Judge's base hit plating two runs in the seventh. Newly acquired Gregorio Petit went 0-for-2 in his debut. 

Benson states his case: Joe Benson's unlikely push for a big league roster spot continued with a major statement in the Grapefruit League. Benson, a 2006 second-round pick of the Twins, went 4-for-5 with a home run and ripped a walk-off single in the ninth as Atlanta downed Baltimore, 6-5.

Signed to a Minor League deal this offseason, Benson has made a big impression in limited action for the Braves with Thursday's game -- shortly after he had been granted non-roster invitee status -- his biggest. In 10 games, the 27-year-old has batted .412 (7-for-17) with a .476 on-base percentage.

Atlanta's No. 3 prospect Christian Bethancourt singled and scored a run, and Todd Cunningham (No. 27) went 1-for-1 with an RBI.

Tuffy enough: On a day where hits came in bunches for Arizona, Tuffy Gosewisch tallied four singles, scoring a run and driving in another as the D-backs racked up 16 hits in a 10-2 win over the White Sox.

The catcher's big day was his first multi-hit performance of the spring. Gosewisch entered the day a .289 hitter and left with a .357 average. No. 14 D-backs prospect Nick Ahmed added a pair of singles and two RBIs for Arizona, and right-hander Enrique Burgos (No. 24) spun a hitless scoreless inning of relief with two strikeouts and a walk.

On the White Sox side, second baseman Micah Johnson (No. 5 prospect) singled and scored a run to boost his impressive spring average to .339 through 22 games.

Walker circles the bases: Adam Brett Walker II didn't get a lot of action, but made his limited time worth it. Walker belted a solo home run in one of his two trips to the plate as the Twins fell to the Red Sox, 8-5.

The Twins' No. 14 prospect hammered his blast in the eighth of his third Major League Spring Training game of the year. First baseman Kennys Vargas went 2-for-3 with a double for Minnesota. Right-hander J.R. Graham (No. 17) was roughed up in one-third of an inning, charged with six runs -- all earned -- on six hits.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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