Wednesday, June 3, 2015

2012 Draft Reflection: Correa, Buxton Leaving Mark

As the 2012 MLB Draft approached, there were plenty of rumors swirling about who the Astros would take with the first overall pick. Byron Buxton was considered by many talent evaluators to be the best available player but the Astros had surprised people before and other names had popped into the discussion.

On draft night, the Astros steered in a different direction than Buxton by selecting Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa, who shot up draft boards in the week prior to the draft. Houston was able to sign him for a below slot value and this allowed them to go over slot later in the draft for a pitcher like Lance McCullers.

Minnesota was happy to have Buxton still on the board at number two as he had been the player they were targeting since their dreadful finish in 2011. Minnesota had to pay full slot value for their prized possession but they were more than willing to cover this costs. Buxton was quickly rated as one of the best prospects in the game and he has continued to rank highly over the last three seasons.

Buxton and Correa have each dealt with some ups and downs during their professional careers. However, each player seem destined for success at baseball's highest level.

Correa got off to a slow start while playing in both rookie leagues during his professional debut. In 50 games, he hit .258/.305/.400 with 19 extra-base hits in 190 at-bats. He did show offensive improvements after making the jump from the GCL to the Appalachian League.

Buxton followed a similar path to Correa in his professional debut. Like Correa, he struggled in the GCL before making some strong strides in the Appalachian League as the Elizabethton Twins headed towards an Appy League Championship. Buxton hit .248/.344/.448 with 19 extra-base hits in 189 plate appearances.
Correa and Buxton continue to follow each other in 2013 as each debuted in the Midwest League. Correa played the entire season at Low-A but he improved all of his offensive numbers. He finished the season hitting .320/.405/.467 with 45 extra-base hits over 450 at-bats. His defense also improved as he posted a .973 fielding percentage at shortstop.

Buxton started the season in the Midwest League but unlike Correa, he would only play half the season at Low-A before being moved to High-A. Overall, Buxton emerged as the best prospect in the game by hitting .334/.424/.520 with 49 extra-base hit and 55 stolen bases in 488 at-bats. Buxton also played tremendous defense in center field.
The 2014 season would be marred by injures for both players. Correa was limited to 62 games after he fractured his fibula. Buxton suffered multiple wrist injuries and his season eventual ended after a brutal concussion in the outfield during his Double-A debut. He was limited to 31 games and another 13 games in the Arizona Fall League.

After shortened 2014 seasons, Correa and Buxton are healthy and back on the field and showing why they are considered two of the best prospects in the minor leagues. Correa played so well at Double-A (.327/.398/.607) that he's already made his Triple-A debut and some Astros fans are clamoring for him to make his big league debut as soon as possible. Buxton has played the entire season at Double-A while hitting .262/.329/.497 in 191 at-bats.
Even with some injury concerns taking away playing time, it looks like Correa and Buxton are both have the potential to be budding superstars. Correa's value continues to rise and his current path could have him making his MLB debut before Buxton. After a slow start, Buxton has seen his offensive numbers improve over the last month and one has to wonder how long the Twins will wait to move him up to Triple-A.

Correa and Buxton's careers have just barely begun and it will be fun to look back over the next decade as each player progresses. The Astros had a tough decision back on draft night in 2012 but it looks like both teams might come out as winners with Buxton and Correa.

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