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Discussion in 'The Mainboard' started by Gallant Knight, Apr 3, 2022.
Pena goat watch
I’m glad we let Springer, Correa, Cole, Greinke, and some of the others walk imo.
100 win team easily.
The Yankees are cheaters and have been since the 1920s
The dodgers are probably even worse. Possibly criminal.
Some funny responses to this tweet, although my favorite may be Jeremy “not Peña very much”
Same here sir
Very good thread here.
Kyle Tucker might win the triple crown this year
He was easily our best player to end the year last year.
Did not expect university of Maine.
Yep, you can learn more about that and how he ended up there in the Ken Rosenthal article on the Athletic about 10 days ago
Rosenthal: As Jeremy Peña replaces Carlos Correa at shortstop, Astros aren’t shy to identify ‘superstar’ potential
By Ken Rosenthal Mar 25, 2022 70
Astros second baseman Jose Altuve isn’t one to speak in superlatives, but sitting at his locker Wednesday morning, he made a bold prediction about his new double-play partner, rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña.
“He’s going to be a superstar,” Altuve said. “I can tell by his attitude. He cares. He wants to be the best.”
As Altuve spoke, the player Peña is replacing, Carlos Correa, could be seen on the clubhouse television, conducting his introductory news conference with the Minnesota Twins. The Astros will always revere Correa, 27, as both a player and leader. But they also adore Peña, 24, viewing him as an emerging prodigy, gifted, hard-working and mature.
Peña projects as a defense-first type, at least initially. But Altuve sees him developing into a player who can hit .280 with 20 homers and a .900 OPS. “He’s going to steal bases, too,” Altuve said. “They say he’s faster than me. I don’t think so. But he’s pretty fast.”
Troy Snitker, the Astros’ co-hitting coach, describes Peña as a “twitch freak,” referring to the quick-twitch muscles common in elite athletes. Bench coach Joe Espada, who works with the team’s infielders, also raved about Peña’s physical attributes, but added he was equally impressed with the shortstop’s field awareness, his baseball IQ.
High praise, particularly for a player who has appeared in only 182 minor-league games, and only 30 above Class A. Peña, the Astros’ third-round pick in 2018, had his first professional season curtailed by shin splints after 36 games. He missed all of 2020 because of the cancellation of the minor-league season, and appeared in only 37 games last season after undergoing left wrist surgery in April.
Yet Peña, the son of Gerónimo Peña, an infielder with the Cardinals and Indians from 1990 to 1996, is not exactly inexperienced. He spent the past two offseasons playing for Estrellas in the Dominican winter league. He also was part of the Astros’ taxi squad last postseason, attending meetings, participating in workouts, asking questions of Altuve and Correa. Astros GM James Click said the experience was, “like going to graduate school for baseball.”
“This is not new for him,” Espada said. “He has been around us. He kind of knows how to go about things.”
But a potential superstar? Really? Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, informed of Altuve’s prediction for Peña, nodded in affirmation.
“I believe it,” Bregman said.
Mets second Robinson Canó, Peña’s teammate with Estrellas during the offseason, also was enthusiastic in his evaluation.
“He’s an athlete,” Canó said of Peña. “He can run. He can move, hit for power, too. For me, he has all the tools.
“He’s going to be a superstar, for sure.”
Peña celebrates with Freudis Nova in 2021. (Jasen Vinlove / USA Today Sports)
Gerónimo Peña’s last major-league season was in 1996, the year before Jeremy was born. Jeremy, the second of four children, was born in the Dominican Republic. His family moved to Providence, R.I., when he was 12, following an aunt of Jeremy’s who already lived there.
Jeremy Peña was not some hotshot at Classical High School, drawing major college and professional interest. But when he was a senior, his summer-ball coach, Franklin Salcedo, sent video of Peña to Nick Derba, the coach at the University of Maine. Salcedo had a connection to the program. His brother, Jonathan, was Maine’s catcher.
“I was in a car, like, 24 hours later,” Derba said.
Derba, a 30th-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2007, was a catcher and left fielder in the Cardinals’ system from 2007 to 2012. Peña, in his estimation, weighed only 150 pounds the first time Derba saw him play. No matter.
“This is the best shortstop I’ve ever seen in high school,” Derba thought. “This is a professional defender right now.”
Derba did not fear losing Peña to another college as much as he did to a major-league club that might draft him. Peña, however, lasted until the 39th round in 2015 back when the draft consisted of 40 rounds instead of the current 20. The area scout who recommended him to the Braves, Greg Morhardt, had spearheaded the Los Angeles Angels’ selection of Mike Trout with the 25th pick six years earlier, and the Atlanta Braves’ choice of Ian Anderson with the third pick one year later.
Morhardt, now with the Boston Red Sox, said Peña was a below-average runner his junior year of high school, but by his senior year he was above-average and growing stronger. Defense was not a concern; Peña had natural actions, a quick first step and good hands. Yet the Braves did not sign him after committing most of their draft budget to their top picks, which included right-hander Mike Soroka at 28th overall, third baseman Austin Riley at 41st and left-hander A.J. Minter at 75th. Peña rejected the team’s offer of a $130,000 bonus and went to Maine.
“He definitely was one that got away,” said Brian Bridges, the Braves’ former scouting director who is now a national cross-checker with the San Francisco Giants.
At Maine, Peña grew into the player Derba envisioned, not that it was always easy in the cold, northeastern climate. Peña recalls one game moving from UMass-Lowell to Maine because icy, snowy conditions made the natural-grass field at UMass-Lowell unplayable. Maine had artificial turf, and the players and coaches spent the night before the game chopping ice and shoveling snow. “I literally had a jackhammer in the dugout getting the ice out,” Derba said. The game was played with snow on the warning track. Anything hit in the gaps was a ground-rule double.
Still, Peña has only fond memories of Maine, and Derba only fond memories of Peña. At one point during Peña’s sophomore or junior year, Derba told him, “There’s a pretty good chance you’ll be the best player I ever coach.”
Peña conducted himself professionally from the moment he arrived on campus and often was the best player on the field, even against top competition, Derba said. “And he was so coachable,” Derba added. “Like, uber-ly coachable.”
The Astros’ area scout, Bobby St. Pierre, noticed Peña’s body and athleticism improving every year at Maine. By his junior season, he was making more of an impact offensively and producing better running times. The Astros targeted a number of infielders in the third round. Six shortstops were taken ahead of Peña in that round alone, but the Astros were not disappointed. They grabbed Peña with the 102nd pick and signed him for $535,000.
“We felt there was still more in the tank,” said Astros scouting director Kris Gross, who was then a national cross-checker. “We were elated to take him.”
The Astros’ scouting director at the time, Mike Elias, was the driving force behind the team making Correa the first overall pick in 2012. The 2018 draft would be Elias’ last with the Astros before the Orioles hired him as general manager that November. Little did he know, he was taking the player who would one day replace Correa.
“That was never a thought,” Elias said. “We were just trying to make a good third-round pick.”
(Jasen Vinlove / USA Today Sports)
In January 2019, seven months after he was drafted, Peña strolled by two Astros officials at the team’s academy in the Dominican Republic.
“Man, that dude looks like a totally jacked-up Jeremy Peña with 25 pounds of muscle on him,” one official said.
“Uh, that is Jeremy Peña,” the other official replied.
Peña, coming off shin splints and a sub-par showing in his first pro season, sought to improve his conditioning. From his home in Providence, he would drive 70 minutes north to Cressey Sports Performance in Massachusetts, working with a physical therapist to correct the foot strike in his running form.
The changes in Peña were noticeable by the time he arrived at the Astros’ complex in Santo Domingo to prepare for spring training — and after he broke out with a .303 batting average and .825 OPS at two levels of A ball.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever met anybody who is addicted to effort as much as him,” Jason Bell, the Astros’ minor-league field coordinator, told The Athletic’s Jake Kaplan in March 2021. “What I mean by that is there are a lot of people who work hard. There are a lot of players who can use that word ‘focus’ and work hard and those buzz words. But then they spend time around Jeremy and you see them kind of begin to really question if they’re working hard, if they’re really focusing.”
Added Click, the Astros’ GM: “Everything we have seen from him gives us confidence that he’s the real deal. He has had some injuries the past couple of years. But even with those injuries, he did everything he could to continue to progress, to continue to get his body in shape.”
Peña credits his work ethic to his parents, whom he describes as, “very humble human beings.” His diligence stands out even in a clubhouse full of obsessive tinkerers. Bregman said every time he sees Peña, he notices him working on an aspect of his game. Altuve sees the same type of drive in Peña that so many great players possess.
“I can tell — he will be hungrier and hungrier, year after year,” Altuve said. “He’ll never be satisfied. I think he’ll spend his entire career trying to get better.”
More than a half-century in Major League Baseball gives Astros manager Dusty Baker the wisdom of perspective.
Baker, 72, was supposed to be the next Hank Aaron, and he wasn’t the only player from his era who faced outsized expectations. Bobby Bonds was supposed to be the next Willie Mays, Bobby Murcer the next Mickey Mantle, Don Baylor the next Frank Robinson.
“It’s not fair to make those comparisons,” Baker said. “You’ve got to let them be themselves. And if they happen to be close to those comparisons, you’ve got a helluva player.”
Baker was referring, of course, to the idea of Peña being the next Correa, an idea no one with the Astros is suggesting, even as they talk excitedly about Peña’s potential and future.
Canó told Peña when they were winter-ball teammates this offseason, “Be ready. You might be the everyday shortstop.” Peña, though, said he paid little attention to Correa’s free agency.
“I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t really follow the Carlos situation a lot. That was between him and the organization,” Peña said. “This winter, with the lockout, I focused on playing baseball in the Dominican Republic and getting ready to compete in spring training.”
One rival scout, describing Peña as a “legit shortstop with some pop,” still predicts he might struggle offensively. A difficult start would not be a surprise. Few rookies transition easily to the majors. The difference with Peña, those who know him say, is that he will not crack under the pressure of replacing Correa.
Espada, who was a coach with the Yankees from 2015 to 2017 before joining the Astros, compares Peña’s challenge to the situation Didi Gregorius faced replacing Derek Jeter in 2015. Gregorius was 25 then, and had only 191 games of major-league experience.
“It was, ‘Didi, you’re not here to replace Jete, which is impossible to do. We went out and acquired you because we know you could be the shortstop for the New York Yankees because of your skills, your ability to play on this big stage.’” Espada said. “I’m using some of those experiences with Jeremy.
“He’s not saying, ‘I’m here to replace Carlos Correa.’ (It’s), ‘No, I’m here to be the shortstop of the Houston Astros. I’m just going to be Jeremy Peña.’ Which is super important.”
Derba cannot imagine his former player being overwhelmed.
“There is nothing that fazes that kid,” Derba said. “He believes in himself. He is his own harshest critic. He’s not living up to anyone else’s standard but his own, which is very high.”
Still, it’s spring training. Every veteran is in the best shape of his life. Every rookie is poised to make an impact. The truth will emerge, as it always does, once the regular season commences, and the 162-game grind begins.
Peña, at least, will benefit from his two seasons in winter ball, and his time with the Astros last postseason. He also will benefit, in the opinion of backup infielder Aledmys Díaz, a native of Cuba, from the guidance and support of the Astros’ sizable Latin contingent, which includes three prominent veterans — Altuve, first baseman Yuli Gurriel and catcher Martín Maldonado.
One positive sign, both Díaz and Espada noted, is that the game does not seem to be speeding up on Peña the way it often does for young players. His demeanor is calm. His tempo at shortstop is steady. Yet, as Espada rattles off some of Peña’s attributes — “he’s explosive, he’s fast, he’s very dynamic” — he sees the potential for him to excite fans, energize the entire industry.
Altuve does, too.
“Keep your eye on him,” Altuve said. “He’s going to be good.”
Your Astros can become the first team to ever win ten straight opening day games today. Breaking a tie with the 1887 Boston beaneaters.
Fuck the beaneaters.
Will be streaming. What a shame this isn’t televised.
It’s not televised?
Oh I guess you meant not nationally
I was a little surprised too because of ohtani
First lineup of the season
Ohtani is fucking filty
Framber has been phenomenal so far.
Pena deserves an error on that lazy throw.
Lazy footwork, but yeah.
A year full of record setting
Kyle tucker batting sixth is a problem.
In case any of you forgot this guy
This is the angels #2 starter? Wtf?
Should be a high scoring game today with who we got going too.
i hate odorizzi
intrigued to see how the apple tv broadcast will be
Kaye Nolan is on the call so I’m expecting it to be fucking terrible
How do I Apple TV?
It’s an app can download to smart tv or tablet
Hopefully Odorizzi worked on some things this offseason because good lord he stunk last year.
Wish they would swap him and Javier
Also maton looked filthy last night
I think I saw him show some emotion when the ump checked his hand for sticky stuff.
katie nolan and hunter pence as analysts and something called stephen nelson doing pbp
cool literally no one wants this
katie nolan: failed at everything she has ever done despite endless opportunities and $
apple TV: lets make her a baseball analyst!
I have this guy on my fantasy team
Can’t wait for the days when they divide coverage up onto multiple streaming services for the entire season.
Only announcers I need
Yep. I’m surprised any other Astros fan would watch it on anything else. They’re great.
New Unis leaked