Correa set for jump from Puerto Rico academy
Shortstop expected to be highest Draft pick to come from island
As the baseball director at Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and High School for almost a decade, Carlos Berroa has seen some of the best players on the island come through his program.
He's watched players sign professional contracts and start their careers. He's witnessed others commit to universities and play collegiate ball.
But he's never seen anyone like shortstop Carlos Correa.
Yes, Correa is that good.
"Carlos is a special one," Berroa said. "He's one of those guys that comes along once in a long time. The sky is the limit with this kid and you could not wish for anything but the best for him. He's an even better person than he is a player and he deserves everything he gets."
The 17-year-old, 6-foot-4, 190-pound Correa should become the highest-drafted Puerto Rican high school player ever when he is taken in the First-Year Player Draft on Monday. Currently ranked No. 5 on MLB.com's Top 100 Draft prospects, many believe he will be selected in the first five to 10 picks.
Correa will find out when his name is called during the wall-to-wall coverage of the First-Year Player Draft, which takes place Monday through Wednesday. It starts with the first round and Compensation Round A on Monday at 7 p.m. ET. The first night of the event will be broadcast live on MLB Network and streamed live on MLB.com. Rounds 2-40 will also be streamed live on MLB.com on Tuesday and Wednesday.
MLB.com's coverage, sponsored by CenturyLink, will include Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Last November, Correa, 17, committed to play baseball at the University of Miami.
"I am really excited," he said. "It's been my dream my entire life."
It some ways, Correa has already won. He's come a long way from living in public housing in Santa Isabel. He's always said that part of the reason he wants to succeed in baseball is because it will give him the ability to help out his family financially. He also just loves the game.
Sometimes, when Correa is on the field, he imagines himself playing in front of fans and winning World Series titles, just like his idol, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.
Sometimes, Correa simply likes to act his age. The fielding sensation is still a teenager, after all, and teenagers like to laugh and have fun.
"When Carlos came to us in 10th grade, he was just another guy," Berroa said. "Now, we are talking about one of the best players in country. I think that says a lot about the time and all of the hard work he has put in to be the player he is. What we realized is his biggest asset is that he immediately applies what you teach him. I think it also speaks to the program we have going on here."
Started in 2001 by former Major League pitcher Edwin Correa -- no relation to Carlos -- Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and High School was created to give youngsters the opportunity to become better players and earn high school diplomas.
Originally housed at the University of Turabo in Caguas, the school moved to the city of Gurabo. Its facilities now include a cafeteria, gym, hitting tunnel, administration offices and classrooms. Students in grades 9-12 are selected via a tryout, and after academic and psychological exams.
There have been 82 players from PRBAHS selected in the First-Year Player Draft since the first class graduated in 2004. Approximately, 98 percent of the graduates who did not sign have gone on to attend two-year or four-year colleges in the United States and Puerto Rico.
The school is aided by Major League Baseball as part of its Urban Youth Academy (UYA) initiative.
"On the baseball side, the statistics speak for themselves as far as the number of players drafted and number of players going to college," Berroa said. "We have endured and have shown that our programs work on the academic and baseball side. There is continuity and when you have a program that keeps putting up numbers year after year, something good is going on."
PRBAHS had a program-high 13 players selected in the Draft in 2005. Outfielder Javier Rodriguez, taken in the second round by the Mets in 2008, is the highest selection to come out of the school so far.
Other notable Draft picks with ties to the school are infielder Jeffrey Dominguez, selected in the ninth round by the Mariners in 2004; infielder Rey Navarro, a third-round pick by the D-backs in 2007; right-hander Julio Rodriguez, picked by the Phillies in the eighth round in 2008; and right-hander Hiram Burgos, a sixth-round selection by the Brewers in 2009.
In addition to Correa, this year's class of potential draftees includes shortstop Jesmuel Valentin, center fielder Ariel Espades and catchers Wilfredo Rodriguez, Hector Candelaria and Angel Merced.
Overall, White Sox catcher Ramon Castro, who was selected by the Astros with the No. 17 pick in the 1994 Draft, is the highest pick to ever come from Puerto Rico, but Correa is poised to change history.
"We are very proud to have players like Carlos and to contribute to Puerto Rican baseball as a whole," Berroa said. "We are trying to get the ship in the right direction on the island and hope to get back to where it was in 1980s and 1990s when we had so many Puerto Ricans in the Major Leagues."
Correa is ready to do his part.
"This is a great school and it's really helped me a lot in sports and academically," he said. "One of my goals was to go to a good school and I'm really grateful for opportunities it has given me."