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.â€¨â€¨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.â€¨â€¨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.â€¨
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.