Houston Astros’ prospect Jeremy Peña is on fire. Is he about to be called up for the postseason?
Houston Astros manager, Dusty Baker, has a problem—his name is Jeremy Peña. Even if you live in the Houston area, you might not have heard of him. The minor leaguer plays shortstop, second, and third, and sits on the brink of a call-up to the majors.
And currently, Baker’s good problem to have—Peña—plays his home games for Triple-A Sugar Land, less than 20 miles away as a crow would fly from Minute Maid Park. In 20 games for the Sugar Land Skeeters, Peña has tallied 28 hits, 17 runs, and 11 extra base hits, including eight home runs.
Perhaps most impressively, Peña holds a .341 average, as well as a .393 on-base percentage for Triple-A Sugar Land this season. Peña woke up today with two amazing gifts: the celebration of his 24th birthday, and the memory of going four-for-five the night before.
The right-handed slugger, who goes 6-foot, 202 pounds, featured a video game-like stat line that boasted a monster performance. In five plate appearances for Sugar Land last night, the Dominican Republic native notched four hits, three home runs, five RBI and scored three runs.
Perhaps the on-field success shouldn’t come as a surprise. Peña grew up around baseball. Jeremy’s father, Gerónimo, featured a seven-year career with the Cardinals and Indians, primarily at second base.
Now the Astros’ front office faces a tough decision. Less than a month ago, Houston reacquired utility player, Marwin Gonzalez, a veteran holding on to a .190 batting average since coming over from the Red Sox, where he hit only .202 in 77 games for Boston earlier this season.
Will the Astros place Gonzalez on the postseason roster? To Gonzalez’s credit, the well-versed utility player features a track record of proven postseason experience, and remains a fan favorite among Houston faithful—especially after his clutch 2017 World Series offensive performance.
Nevertheless, decisions must be made as to how best to fill out the upcoming postseason roster so as to maximize its potency for a shot at a World Series title. And confounding matters, Pedro Leon—another top Astros prospect who could fit a utility infielder role—just resumed minor league action after fracturing his finger earlier this season, and will likely need much more time.
Enter Jeremy Peña
For context as to how improbable Peña’s rise in the Astros’ farm system has been from mere months ago, the 24-year-old underwent wrist surgery earlier this season. This factor alone was likely to take Peña out of consideration in Baker’s mind to come up to the major league club at this point in the season. Nevertheless, here Peña is—knocking on the door.
If the Astros activate Peña now, his arbitration clock may begin ticking earlier. This presents a risky proposition with huge financial implications down the line for a player some consider to be the heir apparent for a potential vacancy at shortstop—should Carlos Correa find a new team willing to offer a massive contract in soon-to-come free agency.
Coincidentally, both Peña and Correa share birthdays. And should Peña become the Astros’ new shortstop in 2022, Houston would replace Correa, the 2015 AL Rookie of the Year, with a player exactly three years younger.
The question remains—will Baker, and Astros’ general manager, James Click, take a risk on a player without MLB experience, and choose to activate Peña as a utility infielder for Houston’s postseason run? Jeremy Peña just might be the wild card the ball club is looking for.