By Josh Reese and Ben DuBose
Red & Orange Report
HOUSTON — Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow says top prospect Carlos Correa is ahead of schedule in his ongoing recovery from the fractured right fibula that ended his 2014 season prematurely.
“He’s running,” said Luhnow, who spoke to reporters Wednesday evening at Minute Maid Park just before the Astros (60-79) faced the Angels in the finale of a two-game series. “He’s doing activity in Florida and progressing very well.
“It’s a very good sign,” Luhnow added. “We feel like we’re ahead of plan with his recovery, which is a good place to be. I’ve seen a lot of guys go through injury recovery before. He’s as diligent and focused on healing as possible. Obviously the body has to heal naturally, but he’s not going to let any lack of effort or work delay him by even one day.”
Luhnow said Correa, the top pick in the 2012 MLB Draft and a shortstop at Class A-Advanced Lancaster when he injured his leg in June, was not quite ready to play on Houston’s instructional league team, which begins play later this month in Florida.
“He’s still got a ways to go,” Luhnow said. “He’s not in a position where he can play in instructional games. But he will be ready to work out with the instructional team, take batting practice, take ground balls. He’ll go on the field, run, do all of that.”
“He is starting to do baseball stuff,” Luhnow clarified. “He’s just not going to do games or face live pitching.”
Correa, who seemed on the verge of a promotion to Class AA Corpus Christi before his injury, still remains one of the five best prospects in all of baseball, according to most scouts. Luhnow said he could be ready to play as soon as Puerto Rico’s winter baseball league, but the Astros aren’t sure if that’s to Correa’s advantage.
“I think he would be ready to play if we wanted him to play, but we don’t know if that’s to his benefit,” said Luhnow. “We want to make sure he’s 100% healed and start the process of preparing for Spring Training [in 2015], because that’s a multi-month process.”
Luhnow pointed to second baseman Jose Altuve’s reduced activity last offseason as a reason to potentially play it slow with Correa.
“Last year, we didn’t allow Altuve to play winter ball,” the GM noted. “He came to Houston in early January and started preparing for the season, and now he’s having the best year of his career.
“We do feel that is valuable time and we have a tremendous offseason program, and we want Carlos to take part in that.”