Update (6.25.14): Correa's injury is now being called a fractured right fibula, according to Danny Wild of MiLB.com, and will cost Correa the rest of the season. The impact on his future remains the same as discussed below - there's no reason he can't come back to full strength from the injury - but it does rule out any chance of him being a post super-two call-up next season.
Original Post (6.24.14): More information has come out on the ankle injury Carlos Correa suffered over the weekend, with the final word settling in as simply an "ankle injury" and Correa set to miss "significant time." according to Mike Vernon of MLB.com. In the article, he quotes Astros GM Jeff Luhnow about Correa's future, in which the GM was surprisingly and refreshingly candid with his remarks.
What everyone wants to know, of course, is what long-term effects this injury will have on Correa. There will be some effects, but most will have to do with his developmental schedule and timetable for promotions and such rather than his physical abilities. With injuries, there can always be complications, but barring further developments or setbacks, no lingering effects are expected from this injury.
What this will do, however, is slow down Correa's assent to the majors, which prior to this weekend had been on an accelerated trajectory. Correa was having an exceptional year in High-A ball, as many prospects have been known to do in the California League. Still, even in the context of the hitter-friendly environments, Correa was having a special season, especially for a 19-year-old.
In the article above, Luhnow mentioned that Correa was going to be promoted to Double-A Corpus Christi at some point in the second half, and may still see time there if he is able to return to action quickly enough. This is an interesting piece of information, as it would have been wholly justifiable to keep Correa in Lancaster all season despite his success. At his age, spending a full season at each minor league level would still have gotten him to the majors around his 22nd birthday.
But it's not shocking that Correa was expected to move on. There was little left for Correa to prove in the California League, as he produced not only the raw numbers expected out of a top prospect, but also controlled the strike zone exceptionally well, appeared to be growing into his power, and has positive reports of his defense at short stop.
This is where how much time he misses this season could ultimately effect his major league timetable in a year or two. The Astros would like Correa to see some time in Double-A this season, but obviously won't rush him back from injury. When he's ready to return, he'll likely return to Lancaster to get back into game shape/speed, or perhaps even make a few rehab starts at a level below that. It's hard to believe he'd be thrown directly into Double-A coming off an injury.
With only two months left on the minor league season, that doesn't give Correa or the Astros a lot of time to work with. They have not announced a timetable on his recovery, but assuming he misses anything more than a month, that doesn't give him much time to get back into game action then get him to Corpus Christi for anything more than a handful of games. If he misses up to a month, it will be tough to get Correa more than 10-15 games in Double-A, and if his misses more than a month, it will be even less, if any.
The Astros intention to get him to Double-A this season signaled a more aggressive timetable to the majors than we had previously expected. In my off-season ETA series, I estimated that Correa could be in the majors by the middle of 2016. That was expecting him to take a path that included a full year at each level. In the "what could speed it up" section, however, I wrote "if he goes off on the California League to start this season, he could be in Double-A by mid-year and all bets will be off." That's exactly what happened.
By wanting to get him to Double-A this season, that signaled that perhaps the Astros were looking at him as a part of their 2015 roster. If healthy, he could have received 200 at-bats in Double-A this summer and, assuming his continued success, perhaps been assigned directly to Triple-A next spring. Even if he returned to Double-A to start next season, he could have been promoted after a month or two and still landed in Houston by mid-summer, perhaps even sooner if he is willing to agree to a guaranteed contract.
This injury, however, throws a major wrench into those plans. They were contingent not only on Correa staying healthy but also continuing to produce. Luhnow said that Correa is likely to head to the Arizona Fall League in October where he will be able to make up for some of the at-bats he's going to lose, but that won't be the same as two months in Double-A. At best, the Astros can hope that he gets back in time to get his feet wet in Corpus Christi and begin the season there next year. If he can, that could allow Correa to get to the majors by the end of next season, but probably not mid-summer as hoped.
So what this injury really does is it forces the Astros to pull in the reigns on any hope of being extra-aggressive with Correa's promotion schedule, something his extraordinary play was making possible. He's still every bit the prospect he ever was and will still be in the majors by 22, if not sooner. This makes it unlikely, however, that he'll be a June call-up next season after the super-two deadline passes, something which would have seemed unlikely anyway but was becoming more and more possible with each passing at-bat.