The Houston Astros selected 17-year-old shortstop Carlos Correa with the No. 1 pick in the baseball draft Monday night, making him the highest selection ever to come from Puerto Rico.
Correa has an incredibly strong arm and terrific instincts defensively, and the Astros might have found their shortstop of the future. He bested catcher Ramon Castro, who went No. 17 to Houston in 1994, as the highest-drafted Puerto Rican player.
"This means a lot," said Correa, in attendance at the draft site at MLB Network studios. "We've got a lot of good players there."
It was the first time Houston had the top pick in the draft since 1992, when the Astros selected Phil Nevin — passing on a young shortstop named Derek Jeter, who went five spots later to the Yankees.
While recent previous drafts lacked intrigue with the first pick, it was unclear even an hour before their selection who the Astros would take. Many mock draft lists predicted the Astros would select Stanford right-hander Mark Appel, but instead Houston made a somewhat surprising selection — although Correa was considered one of the top five players available.
As Correa walked to the podium and shook hands with Commissioner Bud Selig before a brief hug, he pulled out a small Puerto Rican flag and held it up.
"I feel so excited to be the No. 1 pick," Correa said. "I've worked so hard to be here."
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound star from Santa Isabel starred at the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and is committed to the University of Miami, but after being a surprise No. 1 pick is likely headed to Houston's farm system instead.
With the second pick, Minnesota took speedy Georgia high school outfielder Byron Buxton, considered a five-tool player with a bat considered the best among all draft prospects. The Appling County High School star has blazing speed, an outstanding arm and is excellent defensively.
University of Florida catcher Mike Zunino, who has drawn comparisons to Jason Varitek for his leadership and ability to handle a pitching staff, was taken No. 3 overall by Seattle.
Baltimore went with LSU right-hander Kevin Gausman with the fourth pick, adding a potential ace to its system. The draft-eligible sophomore has had a terrific season for the Tigers, going 11-1 with a 2.72 ERA and 128 strikeouts in 115 2-3 innings. He was a sixth-round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2010, but didn't sign and immediately stepped into LSU's rotation as a freshman.
Kansas City went with University of San Francisco right-hander Kyle Zimmer with the No. 5 overall pick. The Dons' ace went just 5-3, but had a 2.85 ERA with 104 Ks and only 17 BBs in 88 1-3 innings, and threw consecutive shutouts during one stretch.