We’re reviewing all 316 players to appear in Houston’s system in 2022.
Jeremy Peña is a six-foot, 202 lb. right-handed shortstop from Santo Domingo, DR. Born on September 22, 1997, he was initially drafted in the 39th round of the 2015 draft out of high school by the Atlanta Braves. Instead of signing, he matriculated to the University of Maine, increasing his draft stock until the point when the Astros spent a third round pick in 2018, 102nd overall.
Peña is the 21st player picked 102nd overall to make the majors, a group lead by Joe Price and his 8.2 WAR. Peña is actually already number three on that list, after just one season. He signed with the Astros to a deal with a $535,000 bonus. From 2018 through 2021, Peña moved quickly up Houston’s minor league feeder system. He was consistently a ranked prospect, peaking at number one to start the 2022 campaign.
Peña debuted this season on Houston’s roster at the major league level, and was the Astros Opening Day shortstop. In his second game, he came within a triple of a cycle in a 13-6 win against the Los Angeles Angels. On April 16, he hit a single, a double, and a triple in a 4-0 win against the Seattle Mariners.
Peña appeared in 136 games, collecting multiple hits in 33 of them and three or more in nine. On July 3, he hit a pair of home runs with three RBI in a 4-2 win over the Angels. Over the course of the season, he hit .253 with an OBP of just .289, due to his 3.9 percent walk-rate. He also struck out 154 times in 555 PA, a 24.3 percent K-rate.
Peña hit 22 homers through the regular season, one of five Astros to collect at least 20, along with a team-fourth 63 RBI. That’s all good, but Peña hit another gear that we weren’t even aware of once the playoffs started. He collected hits in 12-of-13 postseason starts, and had immense positive impact in each series.
Peña closed the ALDS against the Mariners with a solo jack in a scoreless tie in the top of the 18th inning for a 1-0 win to move Houston to the ALCS. In Houston's four-game sweep of the New York Yankees, Peña went six-for-17 with two home runs and four RBI to earn the ALCS MVP. In the World Series six-game win against the Philadelphia Phillies, he was 10-for-25 with another home run and three RBI.
In his short career so far, Peña has proven to be a clutch performer. He finished the playoffs slashing .345/.367/.638 with five doubles, four homers, and eight RBI.
Defensively, Peña appeared in 134 games at shortstop, starting 132 of them. He posted a .963 fielding percentage, making 19 errors but finishing 15 defensive runs better than the “average” shortstop. He also won the American League Gold Glove at shortstop.
The only rub on Peña through his first season was his lack of patience at the plate, but the Astros were rewarded by having patience with Peña. He’ll be under full control for the next two seasons, and become arbitration eligible in 2025.