Roberto Pena isn’t a flashy name in the Astros minor league system, but that is only because they have so much depth. I was actually able to watch him play a game this past season when Lancaster visited Stockton, and he put on quite a defensive showing. Here is the rumor that involves Pena.
After that game, I wrote this: “I would also like to call attention to a player from the opposition, the Jethwaks’ catcher Roberto Pena. Watching him toss a ball to second in between innings, I turned to my fiancé and said, “This guy has a cannon”. Sure enough, Pena caught Bobby Crocker trying to steal second shortly thereafter. Pena would also show off his arm with quick-throws to first, a la Yadier Molina.”
Pena’s strength is his throwing arm. In 93 games with Lancaster, Pena tosses out 57% of would-be base stealers (52 caught stealing, 40 successful), which is astounding in so many attempts.
So why isn’t he protected in the Rule 5 draft? Well, his bat isn’t all that spectacular. In 387 at-bats last season in High-A ball, Pena hit .249, which is actually higher than his career average of .238. He showed a little pop in 2014, with 13 home runs, but the California League is full of power. Remember, this is the league that Mark Appel struggled so mightily in to start the season.
Roberto Pena is just 22, so there is time for his bat to come around, but with the stockpile of catchers (Castro, Corporan, Conger) at the major league level, as well as Max Stassi waiting in the wings in Triple-A, Pena is seen as expendable. As I mentioned last night, the Diamondbacks traded away Miguel Montero, and are in need of a catcher. While Pena isn’t a fix at the major league level, they could fast track him in 2015, and make him an option to consider in 2016. His defense will carry him to the majors, and his defense his damn good.