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MWL notes: Correa not under pressure

River Bandits taking great care with last year's top Draft pick
May 9, 2013

Carlos Correa sat on the wooden bench in the visitors' dugout at South Bend, right hand heavily wrapped, and watched his teammates take infield practice.

A difficult start in frigid weather and a badly bruised hand that was hit by a pitch still couldn't weigh down the pride and optimism swelling within Correa, the No. 1 overall pick by the Houston Astros in last season's First-Year Player Draft.

A 6-foot-4, 190-pound right-handed-hitting shortstop, Correa became the first Puerto Rican play selected first overall.

"Getting drafted No. 1 was a special moment for me and a special moment for all Puerto Rico," Correa said. "It caused a lot of excitement in Puerto Rico, and it means a lot to people. I don't want to let anybody down."

Assigned to Class A Quad Cities to start the 2013 season, it's been a rough road for Correa. Through 18 games, he is hitting .221 (15-of-68) with three homers and 14 RBIs. He has 23 strikeouts along with 15 hits and 15 walks, and he hasn't played since getting hit by a pitch on April 30.

"I've never experienced the cold," Correa said of his early struggles. "I'm trying to work as hard as I can and do the best I can for my team. It's been very challenging, but I know I have to fight through adversity."

Quad Cities manager Omar Lopez said the Astros organization won't be putting any pressure on Correa to produce staggering numbers in his first full season as a pro.

"It's not that he's chasing the ball or he's got a bad approach or that he's overmatched," Lopez said of Correa's numbers. "Sometimes he's too anxious. He's 18 and anxious. He needs to be more under control. I understand. He probably has high expectations and high goals for this season -- we don't.

"We told him, 'You hit this, you hit this, you're fine.' We looked at shortstops in the big leagues, and how was their first season in pro ball, and they were hitting .240, 36 errors, but now they're superstars. It's a process."

According to Lopez, the Astros' No. 2 prospect has a brilliant future.

"Carlos is a really special player," Lopez said. "He works hard and he's very mature for his age. He's very disciplined. He has great passion for the game. Everybody knows about his tools. He's going to be a really good player. Carlos needs to grow up physically more, but the talent is there. I love having him here."

In brief

Family reunion: When Fort Wayne took on Great Lakes on Wednesday, it was a father-son reunion. Jose Valentin manages Fort Wayne and son Jesmuel is a shortstop for Great Lakes. The 5-foot-10, 174-pound shortstop is hitting .282 for the Loons. The younger Valentin was drafted in the first round (51st overall) by the Dodgers last season and is rated the No. 16 prospect in the organization by Jose Valentin played for the White Sox, Brewers, Dodgers and Mets from 1992-2007.

Career night: Bowling Green starting pitcher Blake Snell racked up a career-high 10 strikeouts and retired the final 16 West Michigan batters he faced Wednesday night, but Snell wasn't able to nail down a victory. Snell surrendered a two-run homer in the first inning by Jeff Holm, and that was the difference in a 2-0 West Michigan victory. Snell gave up three hits in the first, then handcuffed West Michigan the rest of the way.

Reds rehab: Dayton will host Cincinnati Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto on Thursday. Cueto, who was injured April 13, will pitch against Lansing. Cueto suffered an injured oblique in his third start of the season. The Reds right-hander is 1-0 with a 2.60 ERA. When he played at Dayton in 2006, Cueto dominated with an 8-1 record and a 2.59 ERA.

Curt Rallo is a contributor to