Secaucus, NJ – The Houston Astros didn't show their hand leading up to Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft and on Monday started the festivities off with a surprise, selecting infielder Carlos Correa from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy with the No. 1 pick.
Correa, the highest player ever taken from Puerto Rico, becomes the third player chosen No. 1 overall by the Astros, joining third baseman Phil Nevin (1992) and left-hander Floyd Bannister (1976).
While both Nevin and Bannister enjoyed solid major league careers, neither did so in an Astros uniform. Nevin appeared in just 18 contests for the Astros, while Bannister won 11 games for them before winning 123 elsewhere.
In the days leading up to the draft it was believed that the Astros had been leaning towards Stanford righty Mark Appel or Georgia prep outfielder Byron Buxton.
Correa, though, became the choice, as perhaps signability may have become an issue with Appel, who is represented by superagent Scott Boras.
"I feel so excited to be the No. 1 pick. I just worked hard to be here," said Correa. "I feel proud to be here and I'm excited."
Often compared to Alex Rodriguez, Correa is very light on his feet at shortstop, where he is above average across the board -- range, arm and actions. Given how strong his arm is, he may eventually move to third base.
At the plate he has excellent balance and patience along with tremendous bat speed and a natural loft. He should hit for both average and power at the next level.
Buxton went No. 2 to the Minnesota Twins, the Seattle Mariners took Florida catcher Mike Zunino at No. 3 and a pair of right-handed pitchers rounded out the top five, with the Baltimore Orioles picking LSU's Kevin Gausman and the Kansas City Royals taking San Francisco's Kyle Zimmer.
Outfielder Albert Almora of Mater Academy in Florida became the first pick by the Chicago Cubs in the Theo Epstein regime, going No. 6, and the San Diego Padres followed by choosing left-handed pitcher Max Fried of Harvard-Westlake High School in California.
Appel, who slipped to the Pittsburgh Pirates at No. 8, released a statement through the team saying he was concentrating on his academics and trying to win a national championship at Stanford and would "address the possibility of a professional career in due time."
Stanford made the super regionals of the NCAA championship on Sunday.
The Miami Marlins took lefty Andrew Heaney of Oklahoma State at No. 9 and the Colorado Rockies rounded out the top 10 by selecting outfielder David Dahl of Oak Mountain High School in Alabama.
Shortstops went in the next two picks, with Oakland taking Addison Russell of Pace High School in Florida and the Mets selecting Gavin Cecchini of Barbe High in Louisiana.
The White Sox took outfielder Courtney Hawkins of Carroll High in Texas, the Reds picked righty Nick Travieso of Archbishop McCarthy in Florida and the Indians got Texas A&M outfielder Tyler Naquin to round out the top 15.
Righty Lucas Giolito of Harvard-Westlake High in California was taken by the Nationals with the 16th pick, outfielder D.J. Davis of Stone County High in Mississippi went 17th to the Blue Jays, the 18th pick was shortstop Corey Seager of Northwest Cabarrus High in North Carolina, Texas A&M righty Michael Wacha went 19th to the Cardinals as a compensation pick for losing Albert Pujols and the Giants took right-hander Chris Stratton of Mississippi State 20th.
The Braves went in-state to take righty Lucas Sims of Brookwood High with the 21st pick, the Blue Jays got righty Marcus Stroman of Duke 22nd, the Cards picked Florida State outfielder James Ramsey 23rd, shortstop Deven Marrero of Arizona State went to the Red Sox at 24 and the Rays selected infielder Richie Shaffer from Clemson to round out the top 25.
The Diamondbacks took catcher Stryker Trahan of Acadiana High in Louisiana at 26 and the Brewers picked catcher Clint Coulter of Union High in Washington as a compensation pick for Prince Fielder, then got Georgia Southern outfielder Victor Roache with the 27th and 28th selections.
Outfielder Lewis Brinson of Coral Springs High in Florida went 29th to the Rangers, the Yankees took righty Ty Hensley of Santa Fe High in Oklahoma 30th and the Red Sox picked lefty Brian Johnson of Florida 31st as a compensation selection for Jonathan Papelbon.