The Houston Astros surprised many observers by selecting a 17-year-old infielder from Puerto Rico with the first overall pick in Major League Baseball's 2012 first-year player draft on Monday.
The Astros chose shortstop Carlos Correa of the Puerto Rican Baseball Academy and High School.
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Correa became the highest-drafted Puerto Rican high school player in history. He has signed to play at the University of Miami, but the Astros will try to persuade him to sign by offering a $7.2 million signing bonus, MLB.com reported.
"I feel so excited to be the No. 1 pick," said Correa, who attended the draft held in Secaucus, N.J. "I just worked hard to be here, and right now, we are doing a great job and I feel proud to be here and excited."
Most had expected the Astros to take right-handed pitcher Mark Appel of Stanford or outfielder Byron Buxton of Appling County High School in Georgia with the No. 1 pick. However, the club was impressed by a personal workout it had with Correa last month.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said the decision to pick Correa was not made until late in the game.
"Within the hour, before we made the decision, we had certainly been considering him and others up until that point," Luhnow told MLB.com. "But it was sort of a last-minute decision."
Appel, who is 10-1 with a 2.27 ERA for the Cardinal, was not taken until the eighth overall pick, and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was the fourth college player taken in the draft.
Buxton was the second overall pick, taken by the Twins. He hit .545 this season and stole 35 bases in 36 attempts.
Catcher Mike Zunino of Florida was the first college player selected, taken with the third pick by the Seattle Mariners. He's hitting .316 with 18 homers and 60 RBIs for the Gators.
With the fourth pick, Baltimore took right-handed pitcher Kevin Gausman of LSU, and another right-handed pitcher, Kyle Zimmer of the University of San Francisco, was taken with the fifth pick by Kansas City.
Outfielder Albert Almora of Mater Academy in Florida was drafted next by the Cubs, and left-hander Max Fried of Harvard-Westlake High School in California was the seventh choice, taken by the Padres.
After the Pirates took Appel, the Miami Marlins took left-handed pitcher Andrew Heaney of Oklahoma State, and the Colorado Rockies rounded out the top 10 picks by taking outfielder David Dahl of Oak Mountain High School in Alabama.