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November 5, 2013

Prospect Debate

Correa vs. Springer

by Jason Parks and BP Prospect Staff

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When we started the Astros farm system discussion, I thought I’d kick off the process by asking a basic yet profound question: Can we make a case that George Springer is a better prospect than Carlos Correa? Regardless of my personal lean, I wanted to craft a convincing argument for both sides, and encourage a deeper debate on the merits of the two players in question. The following is part of our email exchange on the subject, including quotes from scouts and front office members, whose names and affiliations have been redacted for their protection. This is how the sausage is made.

Jason Parks: Let's debate. Can we make a case for Springer over Correa? I'm not sold yet, but as [redacted] and I were discussing, Springer is a low-risk, middle-of-the-diamond player with power and speed. Correa has the higher
ceiling and the higher risk, and it’s not a given that he sticks up the

Nick Faleris: I'd like to argue against Springer over Correa, but I can't given Springer's season and the fact I so vocally doubted him entering the year. I think Correa is ultimately the better major leaguer, but Springer is basically ready to start trying to contribute, and the profile is up the middle. We'll see how it actualizes.

I guess I'll ask the question: Should we kick around Appel over Correa? I think Appel has some non-physical impediments to reaching his ceiling, but I'd listen to someone who wants to argue there is value in his proximity to the majors. Personally, I think his Midwest League showings were echoes of 2012, and that kept me coming back to questioning whether he has the requisite "fuck you" in him to be a true impact arm.

I am moving back toward Correa ending up at third base, but I'm a believer in the power coming on strong over the next two years.

I still lean bullpen for McCullers, but for me the stuff is above Velasquez, as is the overall profile. The fastball/breaking ball is really, really impressive for Lance and he maintained his stuff much better over the season than I expected him to. Only three HR allowed all year, to boot.

Chris Mellen: I'm more apt to go with Correa over Springer if we think he is going to be the better major-league player. The realistic role reads to me that it is factoring in some amount of risk toward not reaching his ultimate ceiling. Obviously, Correa's risk is high, but we wouldn't be ranking him so high to begin with if there wasn't some level of confidence that he's going to reach the majors in some capacity.

Correa's realistic role can be lower right now, like a 5, due to the present gap to get to a 7 and risk. I'd see that as a basis for Springer being higher. As presented, I would say that Correa is projecting as at the least Springer's equal and better on ultimate potential.

[Redacted]: Correa for me by wide margin. Might be best player in game in 3 years and no doubt for me that he plays SS. Only guy on his level is Baez of Cubs.

Jason Parks: Been polling sources all day, and even though the opinions seem [oddly] mixed between Springer and Correa, going with the higher upside player with tremendous makeup and raw physical tools makes sense. I like Springer and I think he brings a lot of value to a team, even if the bat produces a low average/high strikeouts. This is a no-shit role 5 guy that could easily be a role 6 type at a premium position. That's hard to top. But I can see the case for Correa about Springer. I can also see the case for Appel over Springer, but as Nick mentioned and I concur, the lack of a "fuck you" factor to his approach shrinks his ceiling a bit for me. When it comes to TORP types, I want to see what Chris Mellen refers to as diesel. I want to see #rig. I've never seen those descriptions thrown at Appel, and that alone makes it difficult for me to slot him above either Springer despite similar role projections and risk. I think its something to debate, though

[Redacted]: I would go realistic role at least H5 for Springer. Even if he's a .240 hitter with 20-25 HR, a fair amount of walks, a lot of K, 20-30 SB, and plus D – I think that's a high 5 or role 6 player up the middle.

[Redacted]: I really like Correa, but I’ll take the centerfielder with plus power and speed that is ready to compete at the highest level right now. I’m thinking about the present. I might not have a job in three years when a Low-A player can develop enough to contribute. Give me the 55/60 player that makes a team better now. It’s not like it’s a given that Correa will even reach those heights. I think he will. He’s a very good talent. But Springer is major league ready player at a premium position. That has a lot of value. Don’t overthink it too much.

David Rawnsley: Correa: He can be Troy Tulowitzki with his tools and might be able to stay on the field. His 18-year-old year, with all the pressures of being the no. 1 pick, was otherworldly. His character is off the charts. Tools + Performance + Character, spice with age. I don't know how you can be a better prospect than Correa.

Springer: The fact that he's being debated with Correa is a compliment to his amazing season and tools and how quickly he's made adjustments. The swing/miss isn't a factor for me, it’s what happens when he doesn't swing/miss.

Appel: He's who he is. I've never been a big fan at the level discussed (you can really like Lobster or Foie Gras but not want to pay for it) but he's going to be a MLB starter for a long time and have very good seasons because he's a stable and intelligent person who throwing a baseball very well comes naturally to.

[Redacted]: Correa is going to be the top prospect in the minors. That development could happen in 2014. The makeup is special. I’d take him over Springer. I don’t think the risk is all that different. Correa is a big leaguer. It’s just a matter of the Astros timetable. You don’t have to rush him, but you certainly could if you wanted to. He’s up for the challenge.

Chris Mellen: The whole not signing after being drafted as a high pick thing turned me off with [Appel.] I know he ended up going 1-1 and getting his cash, but diesel would have been going to work against pros all of this year.

For some reason I think Springer is going to get chewed up by major-league pitching over the long haul and end up a 4th OF/bench guy. I haven't seen him live, but it is just one of those feelings.

Jason Parks: Been on the phone all day; lots of notes on the Astros system. Some of the reports on Correa read like erotica, and two AGMs that I really trust told me he will challenge Buxton for top prospect in the game next season. Another thing to consider, which I didn't: Correa was the top defensive shortstop in the Midwest League based on fielding percentage. He was 18 years old all year. That's pretty remarkable. Grades on the bat project to 6/6 or even 7/6 if you really believe, with a 7 arm and a 6 glove. The run is a 5, and the size of his body and the likelihood that he continues to lose range could eventually push him off SS, where he could be a GG-level third baseman. We all know about the makeup, but when other teams suggest his overall approach to the game is Profar-like, we know exactly what that means: he is a winner with an extremely large baseball penis.

Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

Related Content:  Prospects,  Scouting,  Houston Astros,  Minor Leagues

25 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links


Appel will henceforth and forever after be known as foie gras in my household.

Nov 05, 2013 04:28 AM
rating: 1

#FoieGras the anti-#rig.

Nov 05, 2013 04:34 AM
rating: 1
Dave from Pittsburgh

I like to think that redacted person is kevin

Nov 05, 2013 04:49 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

There are several redacted sources, but they don't come from the Astros. It's vital to our process to work with sources outside of the org in question to create the lists. It's only after our debates that I will contact the org to confirm tool profiles and get some developmental updates.

Nov 05, 2013 05:22 AM

Would clarifying in some way how many anonymous sources are here harm their ability to contribute in the future? Because it's kind of a difficult to read this as a conversation when it's unclear how many Redacted-s are chiming in.

Nov 05, 2013 06:45 AM
rating: -1
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

I'd rather just keep it simple for the sake of keeping it simple. I understand your point completely--and maybe we can add a distinction going forward--but its easier for me to just lump every source together under one label (for these articles). Not that it would affect my relationship with those sources, but I tend to play it very cautiously when it comes to their thoughts, especially when they are being re-produced.

Nov 05, 2013 06:53 AM

That's entirely reasonable. Thanks for the reply.

Nov 05, 2013 07:09 AM
rating: 1
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

My favorite quote: "I know he [Appel] ended up going 1-1 and getting his cash, but diesel would have been going to work against pros all of this year." --Chris Mellen


Nov 05, 2013 05:24 AM

I liked that quote a lot too. You have to have a lot of confidence in your abilities to turn down first-round money in order to go out and get 1-1 money...

...but if you had serious #rig, you'd have your eye on all-star money.

Nov 05, 2013 07:41 AM
rating: 0

This reminded me of former Blue Jays supplemental 1st rounder and current Astros farmhand, Joe Musgrove. He signed quickly for a below slot $500,000 (IIRC), saying that he wasn't worried about maximizing his bonus because he wanted to get on the field as quickly as possible to work towards the real money that will come after he established himself in the Show. #diesel

Nov 05, 2013 19:18 PM
rating: 0

"extremely large baseball penis" nice.

Interesting to see you experts debate proximity (a no-shit right-now up the middle potential role 6 CF) vs ultimate upside (a more risky, but maybe not-so-risky correa).

This article was fantastic. Hoping for many more (and that Polanco vs Taillon is a debate worth having and it gets posted when the time comes because to me, that'd be nearly pornographic.).

Nov 05, 2013 05:39 AM
rating: 2

On staying up the middle, should 3B really be looked at differently than CF or 2B. All three are skill positions. 2B and 3B appear to be of comparable difficulty. 3B may even be tougher.

Nov 05, 2013 05:56 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

I think 2B is a more physically demanding position than 3B (as far as athletic requirements are concerned), but the hot corner is still a skill position and should be valued accordingly.

Nov 05, 2013 06:00 AM
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

Does [redacted] get to wear a fedora in his new role? RIP.

Nov 05, 2013 06:24 AM
rating: -5

Jason, your last paragraph made me feel kind of funny. Like a sneeze, only better.

Nov 05, 2013 06:44 AM
rating: 0

"For some reason I think Springer is going to get chewed up by major-league pitching over the long haul and end up a 4th OF/bench guy."

so, I felt like chris' statement here seemed to echo the general sentiment about springer going into last season and that was the opinion I had of him.

was there something that clicked or changed in his game or approach last year to make everyone else into believers or was it just the success (read: numbers)?

Nov 05, 2013 08:56 AM
rating: 2
BP staff member Nick Faleris
BP staff

For me, the answer is that I don't know what clicked (if anything), but the numbers have forced me to at least reconsider my previous projection. That was the impetus behind my quote -- I still see very much a similar player to the 2012 (and 2011) version of Springer, which was that of a future average regular. But the production was so good, and I was so vocally critical of the potential holes in his offensive game, I just didn't feel I could stick to that appraisal without trying to really drill down on him in the spring.

I am confident in my evaluations, but when those evaluations seem to run counter to a player's actual production, I try to take a step back, wipe the board clean, and focus solely on the player that's in front of my at a particular date and place. For me, spring will be the next opportunity to do that, and I look forward to the challenge. Maybe another Prospect Team member has stronger feelings about a "change" in Springer's game.

Nov 05, 2013 09:06 AM

This is such a great idea for a series we all know prospect lists are fluid and this gives us a peak behind the curtain. I can't wait for more keep them coming!

Nov 05, 2013 17:36 PM
rating: 1

Regarding Correa having more risk than Springer. People say this all time, when they are comparing a 19 year old prospect and a 24 year old one but, in general, very good 19 year old prospects are MUCH,MUCH safer (aka, more likely to be good major leaguers) than 24 year old ones.

There is an illusion of safety in an older player but, I dont think that safeness advantage actually exists. I think Correa is the safer bet here.

Great series, and great debate though. Thanks for sharing it.

Nov 05, 2013 17:47 PM
rating: 2
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

It's not age as much as its developmental progress and level of accomplishment. Correa is a safe bet for a teenager--no doubt--but his risk isn't on the same level as Springer. That's a stretch.

Nov 05, 2013 19:03 PM
Pat Folz

Springer's floor, as in if he is promoted to the Major's on opening day and he never ever gets better from there, is basically 2012 Drew Stubbs, isn't it? Would that be considered a role-5 player?

Nov 06, 2013 03:50 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Yes. Basically. That's still a very high floor.

Nov 06, 2013 06:23 AM

Regarding Appel, and diesel fuel; an honest question. Do you guys think that Doc Hallday pitched with "diesel"? He didn't exactly have the balls-out energy, or bad-assness of a Roger Clemens or a Chris Carpenter or a Justin Verlander but, he quittl, steadily, got the job done.
I see shades of that kind of steadiness in Appel perhaps.

Nov 05, 2013 18:01 PM
rating: 0

Is this the first time you've finished an article with the word penis?

Nov 05, 2013 18:17 PM
rating: 0

I very much doubt it.

Nov 06, 2013 03:00 AM
rating: 5
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