Jose Altuve thinks Carlos Correa’s replacement at shortstop, Jeremy Peña, will be a ‘superstar’

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Carlos Correa’s departure from the Astros, the team that drafted him first overall in 2012, leaves enormous shoes to fill at shortstop. But there’s a reason the Astros were content to let a fan favorite in the prime of his career walk in free agency. It’s because they knew they had an ace up their sleeve in Jeremy Peña, a hotshot prospect well on his way to big-league stardom.

Rated fourth in Houston’s farm system according to MLB.com, the Dominican-born shortstop (though he spent his formative years in Providence, Rhode Island) showed potential during his breakout 2021, impressing with 10 homers, 19 RBI, five steals, 22 runs scored and a .598 slugging percentage in his introduction to Triple-A (30 games). Peña, whose father Geronimo played in the big leagues for the Cardinals and Indians, has already caught the eye of teammate Jose Altuve, who suspects he could be just as good, if not better, than his predecessor.

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“He’s going to be a superstar,” Altuve told league insider Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. “He’s going to steal bases, too. They say he’s faster than me.” Alex Bregman and Robinson Cano, his teammate in the Dominican Winter League, are just as bullish on Peña, who most anticipate will be the Astros’ Opening Day shortstop when the season begins in two short weeks.

“He’s an athlete,” Cano agreed. “He can run. He can move, hit for power. For me, he has all the tools.”

Nick Derba, who coached Peña at the University of Maine before the Astros drafted him as a third-round pick in 2018, remembers the 24-year-old being the “best shortstop I’ve ever seen in high school,” calling particular attention to his defensive prowess. “There is nothing that fazes that kid,” said Derba, who regards Peña as the best player he’s ever coached. “He is his own harshest critic.”

While comparing Peña to Correa (now of the Minnesota Twins) this early in his development is setting an unfair expectation, don’t be surprised if the talented rookie makes an impact sooner rather than later.

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