Former University of Maine All-America East shortstop Jeremy Pena has been added to the Houston Astros 60-man roster.
The third-round draft pick (102nd overall) in 2018, who played in 11 spring training games with the Astros last spring, reported to Houston’s alternate training camp in Corpus Christi, Texas. He can be called up to the parent team, although the Astros already have a 40-man roster.
Pena, who played his high school ball in Providence, Rhode Island, will work out with Houston’s reserve players for the remainder of the season.
The minor league season was canceled outright by the COVID-19 pandemic, so the Astros elected to put some of their top prospects on the 60-man roster to have the chance to work with the organization’s coaches.
In 2019, Pena hit a combined .303 between Quad Cities of the Class A Midwest League and Fayetteville of the Advanced-A Carolina League. He hit seven home runs and 21 doubles and 54 runs batted in and stole 20 bases. He also committed only 11 errors in 338 chances (.967).
The son of former major leaguer Geronimo Pena had been working out in Providence.
Pena, who turns 23 on Sept. 22, was rated by MLB.com as the No. 5 overall prospect in the Astros organization, listed as a shortstop-second baseman.
The MLB.com evaluation of Pena said he covers a lot of ground with a quick first step and plenty of range. Reports on his arm strength are mixed.
“But he both gets to balls and gets rid of his throws in a hurry. He has soft, reliable hands and would provide quality defense all over the infield if he winds up in a utility role,” it said.
Offensively, it noted that Pena has gotten stronger and been more productive.
MLB.com predicted Pena will eventually be productive enough to merit an everyday role and gave him high marks for his baserunning.
Pena went 2-for-18 with a double for the Astros during spring training.
He departed UMaine as the top draft pick in program history among non-pitchers and the third highest overall behind only pitchers Billy Swift, who was No. 2 overall in 1984, and Larry Thomas (69th, 1991).
Pena was an All-America East and All-New England election as a junior for the Black Bears in 2018.