- Full name Francisco Antonio Peña
- Born 10/12/1989 in Santiago, Dominican Republic
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 230 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Instituto Ibere
- Debut 05/20/2014
Organization Prospect Rankings
The son of long-time big league catcher Tony Pena, Francisco Pena faded from the prospect radar as he struggled with his weight and inconsistency. The Royals made him their top priority on the minor league free agent market after the 2013 season, signing him to a major league contract and adding him to the 40-man roster. Pena responded with the best season of his pro career. His pull-happy hitting approach leaves him vulnerable to pitches away. Defensively, he has good hands and a strong enough arm to fire off sub-2.0-second pop times on throws to second base despite inconsistent mechanics. He threw out nearly 40 percent of basestealers in 2014. Pena does have defensive hiccups, namely on balls in the dirt, when he too often stabs at the ball. He profiles as a well below-average hitter with average power potential.
The son of five-time all-star Tony Pena, Francisco signed for $750,000 in 2006. He repeated at low Class A Savannah in 2008, and didn't draw rave reviews. Take his throwing arm. He has plus arm strength, and he's been timed as quick as 1.90 to 1.95 seconds on occasion throwing to second base. However, he has widely inconsistent ranges in time and accuracy thanks to an awkward arm action and poor transfers. He threw out just 23 percent of basestealers last season. Pena's weight also has been an issue--scouts estimate he carried at least 250 pounds in 2008--though reports from the instructional league suggested Pena made dramatic improvements in his physical shape. Pena isn't projected to be more than an average hitter or defensive catcher at this point, and is not likely to be moved to another position. He still has youth on his side, as well as raw power and good hands that work behind the plate and can work at the plate. Pena is a pure fastball hitter and needs to learn how to hit the slider, which he chases a lot, in order to advance in the minors. He was exposed in the instructional league by offspeed pitches, which he often waved at. Pena does hit to the opposite field well, so team officials hope it's just a matter of repetition to improve his performance against offspeed pitches. After two seasons in low Class A, Pena should get tested in the Florida State League in 2009.
Signed for $750,000 in 2006, Pena was put on the same fast track as the Mets' top two prospects, 2005 signees Fernando Martinez and Deolis Guerra. His big league bloodlines--he's the son of former all-star catcher and current Yankees first-base coach Tony Pena and the brother of Royals shortstop Tony Pena Jr.--good-looking swing and powerful, physically mature build seemed to indicate he'd be well-suited to jump into full-season ball at age 17. But Pena simply wasn't ready and had a dreadful season in low Class A. His best tool is raw power, and he just wasn't skilled enough to make consistent enough contact against older pitchers for his power to come into play. None of his other tools is average right now, and for Pena to bring his overall game into line with his potential, he must get into better shape. One scout outside the organization said simply, "He's just fat right now. It's hard to project much with the shape he's in." Mets international scouting director Ismael Cruz, whose father signed Tony Pena Sr., says Francisco resembles Tony the elder physically when he was 17 and isn't worried about the body or Pena's athletic ability. New York acknowledges Pena has work to do and says he put too much pressure on himself to hit for power immediately, leading the rest of his game to sag. He threw out just 23 percent of basestealers despite above-average arm strength. The combination of being the South Atlantic League's youngest player and having to handle the defensive responsibilities of catching were too much for Pena in 2007. The organization remains confident that Pena will get on track this year as an 18-year-old back in low Class A.
The son of former big league catcher Tony Pena and brother of Braves farmhand Tony Pena Jr., Francisco was at one time considered the top player on the international market in 2006, and rumors swirled that he could command as much as a $2 million bonus. He ended up getting $750,000, the seventh-largest bonus handed out to international players last summer. Pena stands out for his impressive catch-and-throw skills and he consistently posts 1.9-second pop times thanks to an above-average arm and quick release. He has an advanced offensive approach and is willing to go the other way, but his bat is still pretty raw and involves a lot of projection because his pitch recognition is rudimentary. There are some concerns that Pena's body is too thick and that he's not as athletic as his dad or brother. His biggest obstacle defensively is adjusting to the higher velocities he has to catch as a professional, but it's something that should come in time and isn't a serious concern. The Mets love Pena's cerebral nature and his bilingualism--products of having grown up around the game--which will serve him well as a catcher. He probably won't be ready for a full-season league, so Rookie-level Kingsport or short-season Brooklyn is his most likely destination.