HOUSTON — Houston, you have a new star shortstop.
Baseball fans familiar with seeing Carlos Correa in the Houston Astros infield flanked by Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve may be wondering who this new kid is. Let's formally introduce you to rookie Jeremy Peña.
The Dominican-born shortstop moved to Rhode Island with his family when he was 9 years old. Growing up, Peña played multiple sports and won a state championship as a track and field member of his high school.
In 2015, Peña was drafted in the 39th round of the MLB Draft by the Atlanta Braves, but he decided to skip signing to go to college, playing three seasons at the University of Maine before being drafted in the third round by the Astros and signed.
After spending two seasons in Single-A baseball, Peña joined the Estrellas Orientales of the Dominican Winter League after COVID-19 canceled the Minor League Baseball season. Peña hit .306 in 30 games for the Estrellas before being named Rookie of the Year.
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He spent 2021 rehabbing a left wrist injury that needed surgery before returning to the field in August and being promoted to Triple-A Sugar Land on Aug. 28. Peña hit 10 home runs in just 30 games with Sugar Land.
On Sept. 21, Peña hit three home runs, including an inside-the-park home run and a walk-off two-run homer against Albuquerque. Houston added him to their Taxi Squad before Peña returned to the Dominican league for one more season. He would go on to win a second Gold Glove Award at shortstop.
After Correa left Houston in free agency to join the Minnesota Twins, Peña found himself on the Astros' opening-day roster. It wouldn't take him long to make an impression on the majors after he hit his first career home run with his parents in attendance.
Pena finished his rookie season playing 136 games, batting .253 with 22 home runs and 63 RBI. He also stole 11 bases on the season and solidified himself in the race for Rookie of the Year.