Quad Cities manager Omar Lopez slotted shortstop Carlos Correa in the two-hole to begin the season. He dropped him to the third spot earlier this week in a move that's already paying dividends.
MLB.com's No. 28 overall prospect went 3-for-4 with a homer, double and two RBIs in his third game since the move, helping the River Bandits defeat Clinton, 6-1, on Saturday night at Modern Woodmen Park.
"We were just trying to get him to see a lot of fastballs. I wasn't expecting that Carlos would be hitting like this at this point, so just to protect him and let him see more pitches, more fastballs early in the count, we had him [in the two-hole]," Lopez said. "Now he'll see more breaking stuff [hitting third]."
After batting .221 in April, Correa is wrapping up a month in which he's hitting .375 with 15 RBIs and 18 runs scored in 24 games. The No. 1 overall pick in last year's Draft has been even hotter over his last 10 games with a .462 average that's left him third in the Midwest League with a .324 mark.
"[Correa's] showing us that he's more mature at the plate and has the ability to recognize pitches, be more selective and not swing at so many pitches," Lopez said.
The first Puerto Rican drafted No. 1 overall hadn't displayed much power of late. Prior to hitting his fifth homer of the season to the opposite field in the sixth inning, Correa had not gone deep since June 6 and had one extra-base hit -- a triple -- in his previous 10 games.
"I think the power will come. He's got power and I think the balls will end in the bleachers at some point in his career," Lopez said. "We teach to hit the ball gap to gap, drive it -- that's our approach for him and everyone. At some point next month, he's going to end up hitting some balls out of the park, but we don't want to put pressure on him to put the ball out of the park."
Lopez believes that while Correa will be ready for a promotion before the end of the season, there's no reason to rush the 18-year-old.
"He'll be ready, but I think with his age right now I don't see a reason to put him on the fast track," Lopez said. "Another level at the end of the year would be great, he won't have any problem making adjustments and succeeding."
For now, Lopez will work with the Astros' No. 2 prospect on developing all facets of his game.
"We want him to be consistent, stay gap to gap at the plate, make sure we work on his footwork and double plays, as well as his backhand," the manager said. "It's starting to be one of his weaknesses -- it's not bad -- and his fielding positioning."
Third baseman Rio Ruiz, Houston's eighth-ranked prospect, hit a solo shot and scored twice for Quad Cities.
Juan Minaya (1-1) earned the win with five shutout innings, allowing four hits and striking out four. Vincent Velasquez fanned eight in a four-inning save, giving up a run on four hits.