HOUSTON — Carlos Correa, taken by Houston with the top pick in this week's amateur draft, agreed to a contract with the Astros for a signing bonus of $4.8 million on Thursday.
The deal for the 17-year-old shortstop is the first for a top pick since the new collective bargaining agreement that places restraints on spending for selections in the first 10 rounds. It is the lowest guarantee for a top selection since Kansas City gave pitcher Luke Hochevar $3.5 million in 2006.
Under the labor deal, agreed to in November, the recommended slot value for the top pick was $7.2 million. The values of the slots for a team's picks in the first 10 rounds are added up, and teams exceeding their totals are penalized with a tax and possibly the loss of future draft picks. All selections are limited to minor league contracts.
"We're absolutely thrilled to have him as a part of our organization," general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "It's a monumental day for us and for him and for the city of Houston. We're delighted."
Correa was at Minute Maid Park on Thursday for the announcement and met players and took batting practice with the team. He said he picked the No. 12 jersey he donned on Thursday because he was the top pick in 2012 and because he admires fellow Puerto Rican Roberto Alomar, who wore the number.
Correa will return to Puerto Rico to graduate from high school this weekend before joining the Rookie-Level Gulf Coast League on Tuesday. He's happy they were able to get a deal done quickly so he could begin his career.
"It means a lot," he said. "I want to play baseball. I want to play for the Houston Astros. I don't want to lose time. I feel comfortable signing early. I like this team. I just want to work hard."
Correa is the highest draft pick ever from Puerto Rico. He also is the first shortstop to go first overall since Tampa Bay selected Tim Beckham in 2008, and the fourth shortstop taken with the top pick since 1994.
St. Louis players Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina, who are both from Puerto Rico, came on the field early before their game against the Astros to meet Correa and also talked to and posed for pictures with his family.
Beltran was excited that Correa was chosen first in the draft.
"It really means a lot," Beltran said, adding that he called to congratulate him on draft night. "I think Correa is a hero in Puerto Rico being the first pick overall. At the same time, it's going to motivate a lot of kids back home in Puerto Rico to continue to play the game of baseball."
The Astros, who fell to a franchise-worst 56-106 last season to earn the top pick, are looking for Correa to develop into a superstar. He seems ready for the challenge.
"I just want to get to the big league level the quickest that I can," he said. "I want to be a leader. I want to be the face of the franchise. That's what I want as a player. I will work hard right now to be a great player, an impact player in the big leagues."
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