Jeremy Peña Begins To Tap Into Power
When shortstop Jeremy Peña was a 19-year-old rising junior at Maine, he played in the Cape Cod League, college baseball's most grueling summer wood bat league. He finished with a below-average .638 OPS in 36 games.
After Peña’s first full season of professional baseball, the Astros sent him to the Arizona Fall League: another place reserved for the sport’s elite. Peña posted a .290 slugging percentage and .538 OPS in 101 plate appearances.
“That was a tough assignment for him,” Astros assistant general manager Pete Putila recalled recently on the team’s radio show. “He’s the type of player who, even if he might struggle, he takes from that experience things he needs to work on and just keeps moving forward.
“We’ve seen some of the fruits of his labor.”
Playing alongside Padres superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. in the Dominican League, Peña was pacing the San Pedro de Macoris-based Estrellas club. The 23-year-old took home the league’s rookie of the year honors. Through 30 games, Peña hit .306/.349/.430 with three home runs and seven stolen bases.
Peña, the 2018 third-rounder, was added to the Astros’ 60-man player pool toward the tail end of the 2020 season, but purely for developmental purposes. He earned a non-roster invitation to spring training last year, too, and was impressing before the pandemic arrived.
“Very physically gifted, athletic shortstop,” Putila said. “He has a good arm and really runs well. He’s got a quite bit of power at the plate, good contact skills, and he’s just been working on tapping into a little bit more of that power.”
The son of former big league second baseman Geronimo Peña, Jeremy has bloodlines, pedigree and advanced baseball acumen that have skyrocketed him to the top of Houston’s thin position prospect crop.
Peña hit .303/.385/.440 at a pair of Class A levels in 2019—his only full minor league season. His ascension and continued development is imperative for an Astros team bracing for Carlos Correa’s impending free agency after the 2021 season.
— Houston signed former top Reds prospect Jose Siri to a minor league deal with an invitation to big league camp. Siri is viewed as upper level outfield depth and was targeted for his advanced defensive skill in center field. The Astros have just three true outfielders on their 40-man roster.
— The most impressive player at the Astros’ instructional league in November? Hard-throwing righthander Hunter Brown, who has a curveball Putila likened to Tyler Glasnow and sits 95-97 mph.