Carlos Correa, the Houston Astros' top prospect and a consensus top ten prospect in baseball, left a spring training game on Wednesday after getting hit by a Tyler Clippard fastball on his left hand. He'll undergo X-rays on Thursday.
While he was never going to break camp with the big league club, his extended run in spring training shows how highly the team thinks of him. Correa declared earlier this spring that he wanted to break camp with the Astros' Double-A affiliate, even though he spent all of 2013 playing with Low-A Quad Cities.
The former No. 1 overall pick boasted a .320/.405/.467 slash line in Low-A, and while Byron Buxton may have passed him as a prospect, the gap isn't as massive as some might think. Correa ranked fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth in top prospect rankings according to ESPN's Keith Law, Baseball Prospectus' Jason Parks, Baseball America, and MLB.com, respectively.
While Correa's exit from Wednesday's game seemed ominous at first, he was able to pass the initial strength test according to USA Today's Jorge Ortiz. This doesn't mean he's out of the woods, as he'll have an X-ray Thursday to determine if the hand is broken, but he said his hand felt fine and he was able to swing a bat immediately following the game, per Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.
If it is a broken hand, it's not an entirely lost season, as the general time frame for recovery is set for 4-6 weeks. Still, hand injuries can often affect power production for a full year following the injury -- especially with a broken hamate bone. The player can play, but isn't necessarily back to 100 percent in terms of performance.
A broken hand would likely mean that Correa isn't challenged with the assignment to Double-A that he seeks, as skipping a level and returning from injury would be a monumental task to overcome, even for a prospect with his pedigree. There likely wouldn't be any long-term repercussions but it would create questions that there otherwise wouldn't be. If he experiences a power outage, would it be because of the hand injury or because he was legitimately struggling? It doesn't negatively impact him so much as it clouds the team's evaluation.
The X-ray will lift the fog a bit and if he's as healthy as he felt after the game then he'll be able to move on from this fairly easily. If there is a fracture, this could a story all season.