Ready to take over at SS? Peña slugs 2 HRs

April 3rd, 2022

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Astros top prospect Jeremy Peña will end Spring Training feeling good about his swing after blasting a pair of home runs -- his first two homers of Grapefruit League play -- in the Astros’ 9-6 loss to the Nationals on Sunday at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

Peña, who’s taking over as starting shortstop for Carlos Correa, cranked a two-out solo homer to straightaway center field in the third inning before hitting a three-run homer to left field in the fourth inning. Both homers came off pitcher Josiah Gray, who’s the Nationals’ No. 2 starter.

“It’s always big,” Peña said. “You always want to leave spring feeling good, especially at the plate, and the swing feels pretty good.”

Peña’s first homer came on a fastball and his second on a slider. He flied out to center in his third at-bat, finishing 2-for-3 with four RBIs. Gray was a teammate of Peña’s in the Cape Cod League in 2017 on the Chatham Anglers. 

“We’re still friends,” he said. “We like competing against each other. That’s what we did today.”

Peña, who’s the Astros’ No. 1-ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline, is the best defensive player in the system and is riding the momentum of a strong offensive finish to the season last year at Triple-A. He injured his left wrist diving for a grounder in Spring Training last year and had surgery that cost him much of the season, but he returned to set a career high with 10 homers while hitting .297 in just 37 Minor League games and claimed a spot on the 40-man roster.

He is slated to make his Major League debut on Thursday against the Angels in Anaheim. He said his parents will be in attendance. His father, Geronimo Peña, played seven years in the big leagues, including six years with the Cardinals (1990-95).