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With their stellar name origin, it is only fitting that the Astros are accumulating perhaps the most impressive collection of young stars in baseball. Their young core is competing for postseason contention ahead of schedule, and the organization has a seemingly endless supply of young talent to call on from the minors. And the two players they will be adding this week might be the most impressive talents yet.
You know all about shortstop Carlos Correa, arguably the best prospect left in the minors before this weekend. Correa has rocketed through the minors, and might have been in the majors before this season if not for a season-ending leg injury last year. As it stands, he reached Triple-A four months before his 21st birthday, and won't even be able to legally buy his first beer until three and a half months through his first major-league campaign.
Unfortunately, if you didn't add Correa well ahead of his call-up, it's probably too late for you. He is already owned in 86 percent of CBSSports.com leagues as of Monday, and that number should rocket up to 100 in the next few days. Rightfully so.
Yes, he is unproven at the major-league level, so it's a bit hard to call him a "must-own player," but he is a must-own player. Correa hasn't quite lit the world on fire at Triple-A Fresno, which means he only hit .276/.345/.449 -- as the third-youngest player in Triple-A. If that is him disappointing, the bar has been set awfully high; and it has.
Correa hit .385/.459/.726 in Double-A prior to that promotion, and already has 10 home runs and 18 stolen bases in 53 games. He is a career .313 hitter in the minors, while averaging 16.1 home runs and 31.0 stolen bases per-162 games, and he probably has even more power potential than he has shown so far.
Correa may be the blue chip-iest of the many blue-chip prospects to get the call so far this season, especially because he plays one of the shallowest positions in baseball. Scott White had him 19th among shortstops before his call up, and it might not be a stretch to say he could vault into the top-10 immediately; the competition isn't exactly fierce.
If you have a spare roster spot and Correa is available in your league, you should stop reading this right now and go get him. If you don't have a spare roster spot, but have been holding on to the likes of J.J. Hardy, Starlin Castro or Jose Iglesias at shortstop, the same goes.
Top prospects fail to live up to their potential in their first run all of the time, obviously. Mike Trout didn't become Mike Trout right away, and Addison Russell, the last sure-thing shortstop to get the call, has struggled to make contact against advanced pitchers.
However, Correa's star should shine brightly from day one, and his potential makes him too much to pass up.
Vincent Velasquez, Astros (3 percent owned)
Perhaps in the interest of making sure Correa isn't lonely, the Astros also called up Velasquez from Double-A, arguably the team's top pitching prospect. He follows in the footsteps of Lance McCullers, who also made the jump from Corpus Christi to Houston's rotation, and Velasquez might be even more talented. Given that McCullers has managed a 1.88 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 24 major-league innings, that's saying a lot. But Velasquez was the better pitcher throughout their minor-league careers, including this season in Double-A. He might have gotten the call ahead of McCullers if not for an injury that kept him out of action until May, but he has made up for lost time since, racking up 37 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings over five starts. He has struck out 10.8 batters per-nine innings for his career, though injuries have been a constant concern. Velasquez features a mid-90's fastball and a changeup-curve combination that could help him get through lineups multiple times. The Astros have shown a willingness to stick with young starters if they show they can hang, so the path to a long-term role seems pretty clear, as long Velasquez earns it. He has the kind of upside to gamble on even without having seen him throw a pitch in the majors, which he will do for the first time Wednesday against the White Sox.
Zach Walters, Indians (71 percent owned)
There are two things we can say definitively about Walters, based on both his minor-league track record and what he has shown in the majors: 1) He is going to hit for powers; 2) He is going to strike out a lot. As a middle-infielder with a lot of pop and a lot of swing-and-miss in his game, Walters invokes an obvious comparison to former All-Star Dan Uggla, especially given their similar defensive issues. However, Walters struck out even more frequently than Uggla did in the minors -- while also hitting for more power. The Indians made the long overdue decision to revamp the left side of their infield, and Walters should get the opportunity to prove he belongs. Of course, he'll have to do better than he has so far, as he has struck out 40 times in 111 plate appearances with the Indians. He also has seven home runs and a .219 ISO in that span, so the upside is clear, but Walters is the definition of an all-or-nothing hitter, and he'll need to connect a few times early to justify a roster spot.
Chi Chi Gonzalez, Rangers (1 percent owned)
It says something about or obsession with prospects that a 23-year-old who just shut out the Royals in his second career start merits a mention this far down. Gonzalez has been dazzling in his first two major-league starts, limiting the Red Sox and Royals' lineups to just five combined hits in 14 2/3 scoreless innings, and he is getting it done exactly as expected, by racking up a ton of ground balls. Of course, it might also be fair to wonder how much of this is sustainable, given that he has just two strikeouts to seven walks in that time. His teammate Nick Martinez has made the low-strikeout thing work for him this season, but it's hard to shake the feeling that some regression is coming his way too. Gonzalez's youth and results make him worth taking a flier on, but it would be nice to see him get a few more strikeouts than walks at some point.
Adeiny Hechavarria, Marlins (64 percent owned)
In the wake of Correa's call up, it's not a great time for a fringe-y shortstop to go on a hot streak, but Hechavarria could be a decent consolation prize in case you can't snag Correa and need help. Hechavarria got the Coors Field bump in Miami's most recent series, as he went 4 for 11 with a home run, a triple, three RBI and three runs scored in a three-game set. He is riding a seven-game hitting streak to open June, and has managed to remain productive in each month so far, hitting .321 in April and then .283 in May. Hechavarria doesn't have the strongest track record, but is hitting more line drives and fly balls while becoming more pull-centric as a hitter, suggesting at least some of his improved power could be sustainable. You won't get many steals from him, and his spot in the batting order makes it hard for him to contribute RBI and runs scored, but the shortstop position is so shallow, he still might be worth a spot.