Pena's father, Geronimo, spent seven years in the Majors as a second baseman.
Peña's family -- his father is former St. Louis and Cleveland big leaguer Gerónimo Peña -- moved to Rhode Island from the Dominican Republic when Jeremy was 9 years old. His parents wanted to provide a brighter future with more options for schooling, which they found in the capital of smallest state in the country.
"It was tough because it was different," Peña said while visiting the MLB offices. "Like, the culture, the food, the weather. That was the biggest shock, not speaking English, not being able to talk to whoever I wanted to talk to. But aside from that, I had a great time. It was easy because I had my family there, my brothers. I made friends at school, made friends through baseball, and then after a year, it was easy." (Michael Clair - Nov. 13, 2022)
Jeremy attended Classical High School in Providence, Rhode Island and was team captain as a senior. In 2015, he hit .390 with two home runs.
Pena also was on the track team and was a member of the state championship team. He also ran cross-country
Offensively, there is work to do, as evidenced by Pena's .228/.315/.323 slash line in 36 games the previous summer in the Cape Cod League, where he struck out 30 times to 14 walks with just three extra-base hits. He did make the Cape All-Star team in spite of that line, which speaks to Pena's defensive ability, which will also get him drafted in spite of a light bat with below-average power.
June 2018: The Astros chose Pena in the third round, out of the Univ. of Maine. He signed for $535,000, via scout Bobby St Pierre.
In 2019, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Pena the 25th-best prospect in the Astros system. He moved up to #3 in the winter before 2020 spring training. He remained at #3 in 2021. And he moved up to #2 in the spring of 2022.
2019 Season: Jeremy's glove was as good as advertised in his first full pro season, when he exceeded expectations by batting .303/.385/.440 with 35 extra-base hits and 20 steals between two Class A levels.
2020 Q&A with MLB.com:
MLB.com: 2020 is your second Spring Training. Do you feel more comfortable this time around?
Jeremy Pena: Of course. It’s great to be here. It’s a blessing to be here, a beautiful experience, to be around these guys full-time right now for a little bit, learn as much as possible from them, pick their brains, be like a sponge.
MLB.com: How excited were you when you got the invite to big league camp?
Pena: I was really excited. You grow up watching these guys on TV. These guys have been in the game for many years. Just being around them, it’s a really cool experience.
MLB.com: New England is a tough place to play baseball and you went to high school in Rhode Island. And Maine, where you went to college, is not exactly a hotbed, either. Was there ever any concern that you wouldn’t get noticed playing up there?
Pena: That was never the focus. The focus was never to get noticed. I was just going to a program where I thought I was going to develop as best as possible as a player. We had a great coaching staff, we had great facilities. It is cold but we had everything indoors. As soon as I saw the facilities, I knew it was the place for me. It did work out, so I can’t really complain.
MLB.com: What’s the biggest positive, and maybe a negative, about being the son of a former big leaguer?
Pena: There are a lot of positives. Just having that in your back pocket, he’s a call away, whenever you need any advice. Not everyone has that. He’s played the game at the highest level, so he has a lot of good information. I don’t think there are many negatives.
MLB.com: Your Dad had a nice big league career. Is there any motivation to sort of one-up your dad?
Pena: Always. I can’t say anything at the dinner table because he always brings up, “But I’m a big leaguer, you’re still a Minor Leaguer.” It’s good to have him there.
MLB.com: You grew up in Rhode Island, you went to school in Maine. When people complain about the weather down here, do you tell them to stop?
Pena: I told myself that I was never going to complain about the heat when I was in Maine because I was complaining about the cold. Whenever it’s hot down here, I just wear it. I grew up in the Dominican, I was born in the Dominican, so I kind of have that, too. (Mayo - mlb.com - 3/2/2020)
2020 Season: Hoping to avoid a lost season, Pena threw his name into the LIDOM hat, eventually becoming an early selection for Las Estrellas Orientales. Pena had been primed to play in winter ball in 2019 before pulling out late, but became an instant hit when he finally debuted earlier this year.
He’s continued to stand out for his work with the leather, but more exciting is the fact that he’s been a dynamic offensive threat, slashing .306/.349/.430 against fairly high level competition, adding 7 stolen bases in 7 attempts to boot. He’s collected a total of four homers between regular and postseason play, including a couple of towering drives that would’ve been pipe dreams for the player that Pena was in his college days. (Spencer Morris - Jan 1, 2021)
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. Jeremy has the bloodline, pedigree, and advanced baseball acumen that have skyrocketed him to the top of Houston’s thin position prospect crop. (Chandler Rome - Baseball America - Feb., 2021)
2021 Season: Pena won a Gold Glove for his work in the middle infield, while he moved to third base for the Dominican Winter League playoffs. (In Spanish, the league's name is Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana, or LIDOM.) This was in part to Robinson Cano and Fernando Tatis Jr. joining the ball club for the postseason and manning the middle-infield.
Pena slashed .306/.349/.430 in 129 plate appearances (30 games) from the right side. With only seven extra-base hits, Pena’s power has come around since his wrist injury early in the 2021 minor-league season. These numbers at the plate and his versatility in the field granted him Rookie of the Year.
The right-hander played in 30 games with the Triple-A Sugar Land Skeeters this season, slashing .287/.346/.598 with 16 extra-base hits in almost the same sample size (133 plate appearances). Pena also drove in 10 more runs in Triple-A than in LIDOM, as well.
Pena has found more power since last season, and while missing out on most of the Arizona Fall League due to being on the taxi squad, the infielder will look to gain more at-bats in LIDOM. His wrist injury kept him out a large chunk of the Triple-A season, as many prospects turn to the AFL and LIDOM to gain more reps. (Kenny Van Doren - Nov. 4, 2021)
- In October 2021, the Astros included him on their taxi squad throughout a 16-game postseason run to the World Series.
Peña accompanied the Astros on the road, sat in the dugout during games and took pregame batting practice alongside the major leaguers. He occasionally alternated ground balls and infield drills with Carlos Correa, the man he may soon replace.
“They’re all leaders. They’re all mentors. They all take us in, give us tips and give us advice,” Peña said. “Correa’s been great. Every time I get to catch ground balls with him, he’s always giving me tips. You appreciate guys like that. You want to be around guys like that.” (Chandler Rome - Baseball America - Dec., 2022)
Feb 17, 2022: Astros best prospect drafted out of college – Jeremy Pena, SS (No. 4)
One of the top college defenders in the 2018 Draft, Pena missed much of the 2021 season after hurting his left wrist in Spring Training but came back to swat 10 homers in 30 Triple-A games, putting him in position to possibly replace Carlos Correa as Houston's shortstop. (Mayo, Callis, Dykstra - MLB.com - Feb 17, 2022)
2022 Season: 136 G, .253/.289/.426, 22 HR, 2 3B, 20 2B, 63 RBI, 72 R, 11 SB
The Astros overcame the loss of Carlos Correa and kept chugging to another AL West title because Peña was so solid in his debut season. His speed and defense at the six are already top-notch. (Sam Dykstra - Oct. 16, 2022)
Nov 5, 2022: The crowd knew it long before the game was over and before the votes had been cast. Each time Jeremy Peña stepped to the plate during Game 6 of the World Series at Minute Maid Park, the chants rung out.
“MVP! MVP! MVP!”
They were right. On the night Peña cranked out two more hits and scored a run in the Astros’ 4-1 championship clincher over the Phillies, the 25-year-old shortstop was indeed honored with the Willie Mays World Series MVP Award, becoming the first rookie position player to claim it.
“This,” Peña said, “is special.”
So is he. The son of former Major League second baseman Geronimo Peña looked remarkably comfortable on the Series stage, going 10-for-25 with a homer and three RBIs while playing fantastic defense at short. His Game 5 homer off Noah Syndergaard was the first World Series home run by a rookie shortstop, and his sixth-inning single in Game 6 set up the three-run Yordan Alvarez homer that swung the game and clinched the Series.
It was a profound postseason run for Peña, who was also named the American League Championship Series MVP for his 6-for-17, two-homer, two-double performance against the Yankees. Peña became just the ninth player -- and the second rookie -- to be named LCS and World Series MVP in the same postseason, joining: Willie Stargell, Pirates, 1979Darrell Porter, Cardinals, 1982Orel Hershiser, Dodgers, 1988Livan Hernandez, Marlins, 1997*Cole Hamels, Phillies, 2008David Freese, Cardinals, 2011Madison Bumgarner, Giants, 2014Corey Seager, Dodgers, 2020*Hernandez was also a rookie.
It was also Peña who had the base hits that preceded Alvarez’s epic blasts in the AL Division Series against the Mariners, during which Peña went 4-for-16 with a homer and a double. All told, Peña hit .345 in the playoffs.
So how does someone with so little MLB experience display such confidence and composure amid the game’s most demanding challenge? “Man, where do I even start?” Peña said. “It has a lot to do with my family, my upbringing. Shout out to my teammates as well. They took me in since Day One. They gave me the confidence to just go out and play my game.”
In the outfield grass, in the midst of the post-Game 6 celebration at Minute Maid Park, Geronimo Peña, who never got the opportunity to appear in the postseason in a seven-season career with St. Louis and Cleveland, beamed with pride when asked about his son.
“He was amazing,” said the elder Peña, who was the leadoff hitter for the Cardinals in Dusty Baker’s first game as a manager with the Giants in 1993. “He has been growing so much, again and again, every day, growing. Every day he wanted to do something different, every day he wanted to go to the field. He’d say, ‘Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!’ He has a blessing that God has given him. But he also wants to work.”
The epic October/November followed a 2022 regular season in which Peña had huge shoes to fill after Carlos Correa’s departure in free agency. With a solid .253 average, a .715 OPS and defense that made him the first rookie shortstop to win a Gold Glove, Peña more than answered the call. Peña never let the size of that assignment overwhelm him.
“I'd say the hardest part was just blocking everything that's not part of the game,” Peña said. “There's a saying that you can't sink a ship with water around. It sinks if water gets inside. So I just try to stay strong and keep the water outside my head. Just keep playing my game, show up every single day, and just trust in my preparation.” (A Castrovince - MLB.com - Nov 6, 2022)
Nov 13, 2022: Considering that he was in New York City over the weekend to accept his Gold Glove Award, perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that the first thing people noticed about Astros World Series MVP Jeremy Peña was his glove.
"He made some plays even pros couldn't make," Ken Wnuk, his coach at Classical High School in Providence, R.I., told MLB.com. "There was a ball hit on the second-base side of second base. Probably about three, four feet. He ran over, scooped it up, did a pirouette and then threw the kid out at first by about a step. And I mean, he rocketed the ball. The first baseman came over to me and he said, 'Coach, he rips when he throws. That's a hard throw.'"
"I swear to god, in my career, if you look at my best recruits, it took 30 seconds [to recognize their talent]," Steve Trimper, Peña's former coach at the University of Maine, said. "Well, I would say Jeremy was like three seconds."
Peña's family -- his father is former St. Louis and Cleveland big leaguer Gerónimo Peña -- moved to Rhode Island from the Dominican Republic when Jeremy was 9 years old. His parents wanted to provide a brighter future with more options for schooling, which they found in the capital of smallest state in the country.
"It was tough because it was different," Peña said while visiting the MLB offices. "Like, the culture, the food, the weather. That was the biggest shock, not speaking English, not being able to talk to whoever I wanted to talk to. But aside from that, I had a great time. It was easy because I had my family there, my brothers. I made friends at school, made friends through baseball, and then after a year, it was easy." Peña lived in a diverse section of town, so many of his classmates spoke both English and Spanish -- and there was plenty of good Dominican food to find being cooked both at home and in the neighborhood -- which helped ease the transition.
While Peña had already made a name for himself in the local baseball scene, helping Providence nearly reach the Little League World Series in 2010 ("Don't remind me! I'm still sensitive!" he said with a laugh), there was no guarantee that the scouts would find the young kid with the great glove. New England may be sports crazy, but the weather can wreck havoc on a ballplayer, leading many of the region's best to leave for Florida, Texas or California to get the necessary games and at-bats.
The first time Wnuk saw him was at baseball tryouts inside the Classical gym because the fields were too wet to hit grounders outside. Still, Peña scooped up everything hit his way.
"I don't [mess] around, I hit the ball," Wnuk said. "I want to see if the kids got enough [guts]. If he's got the talent to get in front of the ball, and I want to see if he can catch it. He was just so smooth. In the front, in between, taking two steps to the left and steps to the right. I must have hit him 40 balls and he missed one."
Trimper nearly missed out his chance to scout Peña at all. Having received tips that there was a special kid playing shortstop in Providence, Trimper rented a car and drove to Providence after the Maine Black Bears had played Holy Cross in nearby Worcester, Mass. But when he arrived at the field, "it started snowing like a banshee."
With the game snowed out and a big game coming up against Stony Brook that weekend, Trimper planned to just chalk it up as a loss and drive back to Orono.
"I'm literally sitting in my car, like the blinker is on, to head back to Maine," Trimper, who is now the head coach at Stetson University, remembered. "And I'm like, 'You know what, let me get a hotel. I came all this way.' I always say, for me, it was that fateful decision to just stay in and stick with it until the snow melted."
When he saw Peña the next day, he was immediately sold.
"It was phenomenal," Trimper said. "He was just a kid back then, so I would say that he didn't show a lot of power at that time, but who does except for a phenom? The one thing I noticed was he took infield/outfield and he had lightning-quick hands. I'm like, I don't care if this kid hits .096 for us, I'm taking this kid to Maine, he's our shortstop. He's gonna save us so many defensive RBIs." While the world may have been slow to catch on to the shortstop, Peña was never concerned.
"It was different for me because of my experience having a father that played in the big leagues," Peña said. "So, seeing him every single day and talking to him, it felt like it was something I could do. It was different for me because I had that role model in my house."
When Peña showed off his skills at a Perfect Game showcase -- the first tournament that took him out of the state -- new schools came calling. But he remained committed to the university and coaching staff that first took an interest in him.
"Maine came at me early. I think it was my sophomore year," Peña said. "And I was a little kid, you know, skinny. I wasn't the best, I wasn't the fastest, I wasn't the strongest. But Steve Trimper and Nicholas Durba, they saw something in me that I didn't see at the time and other schools definitely didn't see at the time. Once I went to that Perfect Game tournament, and I got exposure and all the other schools start showing up and there were talks for the Draft, I was like, You know what, I'm going to stick with the people that believed in me from Day 1."
Though he may have been playing way up north with very few home games and lacking the attention he might find in other places, he loved his time there. In the summer, there were beautiful parks and paths through the wilderness he could hike. He loved to fish. The winter, though, was a little harder.
"You lock yourself in your house and sleep," Peña joked. "You watch shows in your apartment."
That's not entirely true, though -- at least, according to Trimper.
"Jeremy literally hung a tire," Trimper said. "I remember in his apartment or dorm room in school and he's banging on this tire in his apartment in the ice and cold, just trying to get stronger."
"When I got to Maine, it was the first time when I actually start working out. I never did weights, started eating more," Peña said. "Just being around the guys, too. Like these guys were driven. They're stronger than me, bigger than me. So, I was always striving every single day to try to get to their level. And I say we just fed off each other."
While Wnuk and Trimper knew they had a special player, even they couldn't necessarily predict what the skinny shortstop from Providence would become: A Gold Glove-winning World Series MVP who cracked out 22 home runs in his rookie season. But they knew the kind of work ethic he had -- and more importantly, they knew the kind of person he was.
"He is the most selfless player I think I've coached in 30 years, where he wants to compete and win so much," Trimper said. "But he wants to do it not because he wants a record, or even a contract, it's more because he gets the joy of winning. Competing and winning -- that's his addiction."
"If a kid made an error on the team, as the guys are coming back in, he'd go to them, 'We'll get them next inning,'" Wnuk remembered. "It was never, 'Jesus Christ, make the play,' it was always, 'We'll get them next inning. Plant your feet, blah blah blah,' He would always help somebody." Wnuck remembers one of those days some Major League scouts were around the Classical field, taking a peek at Peña. One of the scouts asked him, "What do you think?"
"I said, 'He's the best kid I've had in 30-something years. This kid is good," Wnuk said. "And the guy discounts it, like, 'All the coaches say that about their kids.' I said, 'Buddy, you don't know me. I don't bull--. If the kid [stunk], I'd say, nah, don't bother wasting your time.' This kid is good.
"One of the other scouts, the scout from Houston, looked at me and gave me this smile like, 'Yeah, you're right. Tell him to shut up.' And [years later], they ended up drafting him." (M Clair - MLB.com - Nov 13, 2022)
Dec. 2022: Pena committed to play for Team Puerto Rico for the 2023 WBC.
Always a family man at heart. That is who Houston Astros superstar Jeremy Peña is. Even after winning the World Series MVP award, and earning well over $1 million this season, the rookie decided to still live with his family in his childhood room.
Peña emigrated from the Dominican Republic to Rhode Island when he was nine years old. Since then, he has taken the baseball scene in the United States by storm.
Yet, despite all of the fame and success, he prefers to just live at home with his mother and father during the offseason.
That mentality is all about where he came from according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.
“Sports has been such a big part of my life,’’ he said. “When I moved from Dominican Republic, I didn’t speak English, but I could relate to the language of sports. It helped build my character, and now I want to help do the same for kids.’’
Not only is Peña keeping both feet on the ground when it comes to his fame and staying at his parents' home, but he continues to give back to his community. Just like his teammate Framber Valdez.
Peña worked with DICK's Sporting Goods and the University of Houston in December to help children in need. He is buying into his new community in Houston.
“I want to give them the tools for them to create their own path,’’ Peña says. “Sports teaches you hard work, discipline and team work. It helps build your character.
“So that’s my biggest goal now is to connect with youth, and use my platform to teach life lessons with kids and teach them the importance of sports. What you learn in sports you can incorporate in life.
“My whole life has been about giving back, giving back to the place I’ve come from, and I see sports as a platform for me to give back.’’
A true family at heart. (KADE KISTNER - JAN 9, 2023)
- 2022 Season: From the very start, Peña proved he was the real deal. Slashing .253/.289/.426 with 22 home runs in 136 games this past season, Peña immediately filled the void that Correa left.
And while he was fairly productive at the plate, his defense was arguably better as he won his first Gold Glove award at the shortstop position. As a rookie.
It doesn't get better, right?
But it does.
Following an amazing postseason run in which Peña played a massive part in bringing a second World Series title to Houston, he also won the World Series MVP award.
During the World Series, Peña hit .400 against the Philadelphia Phillies with a home run. Amazing stuff. It was indicative of his entire rookie season. (KADE KISTNER - Jan. 12, 2023)
- 2023 Season: Jeremy Peña’s rookie season was a resounding success, although a bit irregular at times. Even accounting for his summer slump, a 3.4-win season from their primary shortstop was a nice gain for the Astros, who decided to let Carlos Correa walk away in free agency. Peña’s leg kick adjustment in September 2022 became a much-discussed item in particular as Houston eventually won their second World Series title, with his contributions at the plate and in the field landing him both ALCS and World Series MVP honors.
It was obvious last offseason that the expectations for Peña were set high for 2023. After all, for as good as Peña was to start his career and finish his first season, there was room for more improvement. How would his adjustments at the plate carry over into 2023? Would he solidify his standing as a top-of-the-order option? Or would he regress offensively? How about his defense without the shift? There were a lot of questions surrounding Peña and whether he had real staying power as a starting shortstop.
The reason why I stated staying power as a starting shortstop is due to one reason: Peña’s strong defensive profile compared to the questions at the plate. There is little doubt that the 26-year-old can field well at the position, with or without the shift. Defensive metrics may vary on a season-by-season basis, but the numbers do generally back up Peña’s defensive reputation. For example, DRS thought higher of Peña in 2022 with a plus-16 run reading, compared to UZR with -6.3 runs. In 2023, DRS trended down to seven runs compared to UZR improving to a positive 1.2 runs. OAA (Outs Above Average) has attributed seven outs above average to Peña since 2022. While he may not grade out as the best defensive shortstop in baseball, there is little doubt that he is generally above average in the field.
The main doubt with Peña has always resided at the plate and for good reason. While his power became apparent during his debut season — 22 home runs in 558 plate appearances — there was the nagging issue of whether breaking and offspeed pitches could derail any progression as a hitter. I mean, with his defensive profile, he doesn’t have to hit much more than the league average (100 wRC+ or higher) to become extremely valuable. We saw that much in 2022 when he finished with a 102 wRC+. But he punished enough fastballs and mistake pitches to help cover those pitch recognition issues. But that famous leg kick adjustment, for example, was a terrific counter to address Peña’s issues with breaking pitches, allowing more time for pitch recognition and enabling better decisions.
However, as the 2023 season unfolded, it became increasingly clear that something wasn’t clicking for Peña at the plate. Below are his month-by-month slugging percentages. That June through July period was particularly difficult to watch.
Peña’s performance against fastballs took a noticeable dive compared to the previous season, specifically from a power perspective. Even putting aside the flaws of the metric for a moment, Peña had a higher batting average against fastballs in 2023, increasing from .283 to .304. One would think at first glance that this was a positive development, right? But he was simply not barreling the ball at the same rate as he did in 2022, which is one reason why his power production simply plummeted.
The same thought applies to breaking pitches, too, as Peña’s slugging percentage decreased by .156. Interestingly enough, his final wRC+ (96) wasn’t far off from his 2022 performance. But this drop-off was likely mitigated due to improved plate discipline, as his walk and strikeout rates improved. Again, a positive development, right? Normally, yes. But under Peña’s circumstances, those gains were essentially nullified by the sudden lack of barrels on balls. In turn, his power numbers — slugging percentage, isolated power — took a plunge.
Essentially, Peña took a weakness and made it less of one. In the process, however, he took a strength and turned into a near non-factor. I mean, his last home run in 2023 for the regular season and postseason was on July 5 against the Rockies. That was number 10. The Astros’ season didn’t conclude until October 23. That is a long time for a player with Peña’s reputation to regularly play without a home run. For context, Mauricio Dubón had six home runs from July 6 through the end of the regular season. Sure, Peña still had 18 extra-base hits — 16 doubles and two triples — but the lack of a home run threat was an issue, especially in the postseason when he essentially turned into a single hitter.
Ultimately, Peña’s staying power as a starting shortstop will likely hinge on how well his bat ages. It doesn’t take much — again, roughly league average — to keep him in the lineup regularly due to the value of his defensive capabilities. But his ceiling is an ongoing concern and directly impacted by his production as a hitter. Looking as far back as his time in the minors, we’ve always heard of some sort of adjustment in progress with Peña. From the outside looking in, it does appear Peña is constantly tinkering with his approach. I wonder if he would benefit from less tinkering. At some point, it may become too much, right? In any case, it all starts again in 2024. A crucial third season in the majors, in my opinion. (Cody Poage Nov 30, 2023)
|Santo Domingo, D.R.
|Astros #3 - 2018 - Out of Univ. of Maine
Pena has a 50 grade hit tool. He is aggressive at the plate, using a short righthanded stroke to hit line shots. He can pull an occasional ball out of the park, but it is 45 grade power, worth 10-12 homers per season.
The Astros have always loved Peña’s defense and makeup, an in 2021 made offensive strides and showing a power surge that will make him an everyday major league option.
Jeremy's power may come at the expense of strike-zone control and an ability to hit for average, but his transformation from a handsy college hitter to one who can unearth more power is evident. (Chandler Rome - Baseball America Prospect Handbook - Spring, 2022)
- Pena worked to improve his plate coverage, be more consistent in his approach and—above all—get the consistent playing time absent for so much of his minor league career.
“He’s always been a natural athlete, but he has really dedicated himself to getting stronger,” Astros general manager James Click said at the end of the 2021 season. “Watching his batting practice during the playoffs was really impressive.
"Whether he’s ready or not, that’s ultimately up to him. We’ll assess that and determine how it fits into the roster going forward, but there’s no question he’s worked himself into being a real factor for us.”
Though he struggled with wood bats in college summer leagues, Pena has gotten much stronger in pro ball and now is making more frequent and higher quality contact from the right side of the plate. The Astros believe he'll hit enough to be a regular on contending teams and see some untapped power that eventually could produce 15 or more homers per season once he incorporates some mechanical changes. A solid runner out of the batter's box, he's faster once he gets going and has a base-stealing mentality. (Spring 2021)
“Very physically gifted, athletic shortstop,” Astros assistant GM Pete 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.”
Jeremy has evolved from a handsy swing in college into one that better incorporates his whole body. He now better leverages his explosiveness and creates a more adjustable swing path to go with his solid bat-to-ball skills and a sound grasp for the strike zone. The added strength has helped Peña’s ability to drive the ball, but he still has below-average power, though he has a chance for more because of his contact frequency. (Ben Badler - Baseball America Prospect Handbook - Spring, 2021)
Jeremy has added a significant amount of muscle and good weight and developed gap power. But his swing is now geared almost exclusively to his pull side. He has a solid understanding of the strike zone, so he can work pitchers to get to situations in his zone, and he’ll add enough walks to post solid on-base percentages. (JJ Cooper - BA Prospect Handbook - Spring, 2020)
As a hitter, Pena doesn't try to do too much, as he looks to spray hits and work counts. (Spring 2019)
2019 Season: Jeremy Pena, SS/2B (No. 8)
The son of offensive-minded second baseman Geronimo Pena, Jeremy was one of the best defensive shortstops available in the college class of 2018 when Houston took him in the third round. His glove was as good as advertised in his first full pro season, and he exceeded expectations by batting .303/.385/.440 with 35 extra-base hits and 20 steals between two Class A levels.
Dec 4, 2020: Jeremy Peña (Astros No. 4)
After hitting.183 in winter ball last season, Peña is performing much better for Estrellas Orientales (D.R.) this time around and is hitting .333 (12-for-36) through 10 games. He has proven to be aggressive at the plate while in the D.R. as he’s struck out seven times and walked just once. The 10-game sample size is small, but those numbers track with his career marks as he’s drawn 65 walks and struck out 109 times in 145 career games.
Jan 5, 2021: Jeremy Peña, SS/2B (Astros No. 4)
Peña has some of the best all-around tools in the Astros’ system and showcased them all this offseason playing for Estrellas (D.R.). The 23-year-old infielder fared well at the plate, slashing .306/.349/.430 with seven extra-base hits including three home runs over 30 games.
He finished among the league leaders in numerous categories including hits (37, 2nd), total bases (52, 2nd), runs scored (18, 3rd) and stolen bases (7, 3rd). In the playoffs, Peña has notched one hit in his last 15 at-bats after he homered in Game 1 of the quarterfinals. (M Rosenbaum - MLB.com - Jan 5, 2021)
- Feb 20, 2024: The overhaul of his batting stance began only a week into the offseason. Jeremy Peña, coming off a breakout rookie season in 2022, saw his power stroke disappear in the second half of last season -- a puzzling development which overshadowed an otherwise solid season at the plate.
Peña, who split time between Houston and his native Dominican Republic this winter (as well as a trip to the Marucci Sports’ baseball performance lab in Baton Rouge, La., just before Spring Training), reported to camp with a new stance and a new outlook. The goal was to limit his movement in the box and return to driving the ball to the outfield.
“He looks comfortable in the box. He looks athletic,” Astros manager Joe Espada said. “I think he’s using the whole field, hitting the ball in the air more with power and I really like where he’s at early in camp. It’s more efficient and that’s exactly what he’s shown in the last couple of weeks [while working out prior to camp] in Houston.”
- Peña took over at shortstop for Carlos Correa in 2022 and slashed .253/.289/.426 (.715 OPS) with a 102 OPS+, 222 total bases, 22 homers and 63 RBIs. He came up huge in Houston’s run to the World Series title and took home MVP honors in the American League Championship Series and World Series and won a Gold Glove
With expectations soaring entering 2023, Peña took a jump in some areas and regressed in others. He posted a 263/.324/.381 slash line with a 95 OPS+ and 220 total bases last year -- numbers not too far off from his rookie season. He also drastically improved his walk rate and cut down on strikeouts just a bit.
“I felt like my swing decisions improved,” he said. “I felt more patient, seeing the ball a little better. Now it’s all kind of mixing it all together and then adding some things on top of that.”
The area in which he regressed the most was his power production. Peña clubbed just 10 homers, including none after July 5, a span of 351 plate appearances including the postseason. Pena’s groundball rate began to skyrocket in June and didn’t recover. Here’s the breakdown of his contact from before and after his final homer of ’23:
Through July 5: 50.4%
July 6 to end of season: 58.5%
Through July 5: 21.2%
July 6 to end of season: 16.5%
Through July 5: 6.2%
July 6 to end of season: 1.8%
“It is what it is,” Peña said. “It’s in the past already. I’m not really going to think about it much more. I already kind of broke down my season like a week into the offseason. I built a plan to work on in the offseason and now it’s a new year. Now we move forward.”
Peña’s new stance was on full display during a round of live batting practice Monday against Astros relievers Josh Hader and Ryan Pressly. Gone is Peña’s bat wag; he now instead rests the bat on his shoulder. His toe tap with his left foot has been replaced with what he calls more of a hover.
- “I’m starting the bat from a still position on my shoulder, but I’m still doing some kind of movement with the hands as I’m going,” he said. “I’m not completely getting rid of the wag, it’s just kind of controlling it a little bit more.”
Peña said he wanted to simplify things and be a little more consistent with his positions. He said he feels he’s putting the barrel on the ball more consistently and the ball is “having true spin,” instead of him slicing or topping it.
“It felt good, it felt calm, it felt under control,” he said after Monday’s live batting practice. “That’s the whole goal behind this, to start from a position where I feel comfortable, and I can build off that. Now that I tried it in [live BP], I’m going to keep working off of that.”
As well as things have gone so far, Peña is still in the infancy stage with his new stance. When asked if it felt natural yet, he said, “Natural and comfortable would be my batting stance last year. That’s what’s been natural. This feels like the right thing and it’s something I’m going to keep working on and keep ingraining into my swing.” (B McTaggart - MLB.com - Spring 2024)
Jeremy's defense at shortstop is his best tool. He has soft hands and fluid actions and an above-average arm. Both get 60 grades.
Pena has Major League bloodlines. His father, Geronimo, played seven Major League seasons.
The best defender in Houston's system, Pena is a legitimate shortstop with a quick first step and plus range. His arm strength draws grades anywhere from fringy to plus, but the bottom line is he has a quick release and doesn't have any problems making the necessary throws. He has soft, reliable hands and can provide quality glovework all over the infield should he wind up as a utilityman.
Pena has smooth actions, good instincts and range to go with an above-average arm. He may develop into an every-day lineup. He is very athletic. (Spring 2021)
Pena is probably the best defensive shortstop in the 2018 Draft. When drafted, he became one of the best defensive shortstops in the Astros' system. (Spring 2020)
Pena is loose, athletic, and has range to both sides.
2019 Season: Jeremy Pena, SS/2B (No. 8). One of the best defenders in the 2018 college crop, Pena went in the third round out of Maine largely because of his plus range and arm strength. And he can fit anywhere he might be needed in the infield.
2022 Astros Best Defensive Prospect—Jeremy Peña, SS (No. 4)
Peña's glove made him the highest-drafted position player ever from the University of Maine (third round, 2018) and has been as good as advertised while he also has raised his offensive profile as a pro. Carlos Correa's heir apparent as the Astros' shortstop, he covers plenty of ground with a quick first step, has reliable hands and enhances his arm strength by getting to balls and unloading them quickly. (Mayo, Callis, Dykstra - MLB.com - Feb 24, 2022)
- 2022 Gold Glove winner - Shortstop: Jeremy Peña, Astros
If it wasn’t enough that Peña introduced himself to the wider baseball world with a huge homer in the 18th inning of Game 3 of the AL Division Series against the Mariners -- following that up with AL Championship Series MVP honors against the Yankees -- the 25-year-old rookie has now added a Gold Glove Award to his resume. Peña finished the regular season tied with the Marlins’ Miguel Rojas for most DRS among MLB shortstops, with 15. Peña is the first Astros rookie to win a Gold Glove, and the third player in franchise history to win one at shortstop. He joins the man he replaced, Carlos Correa (2021), and Roger Metzger (1973). Per the Elias Sports Bureau, Peña is also the first rookie shortstop to win a Gold Glove.
Jeremy is speedy, with a 55 grade. He is an above average runner and a good base-stealer. (Spring 2020)
- 2022 Season: Pena made his presence felt in his rookie season for the Astros, replacing Carlos Correa. He hit .253-22-63 with 11 steals during the regular season, followed by ALCS and World Series MVP Awards. The shortstop has more potential as a base stealer, as he showed with 20 steals in 2019 in the minors.
April-Aug. 28, 2021: Pena had left wrist surgery, missing most of the season. He was injured diving for a ground ball.
June 14, 2022: Peña traveled to Houston to be examined by team doctors after suffering an undisclosed injury while making a diving attempt to catch a Corey Seager pop fly in the third inning of the series opener.
June 15-26, 2022: Jeremy was on the IL with left thumb discomfort.
- Sept 24, 2022: Peña was replaced in the fifth inning after taking a hard fall sliding head-first into home plate on an Alex Bregman sacrifice fly. Peña suffered a facial abrasion but cleared concussion protocols. He is considered day to day, and the Astros plan on resting him for the series finale.