Willians Astudillo Might Be Here to Stay
Image courtesy of © Raj Mehta-USA TODAY SportsWhen Josh Donaldson was injured on his first plate appearance of the 2021 season, it suddenly shifted the entire plan for the Minnesota Twins roster. Suddenly Luis Arraez was thrust into an everyday role leaving behind a hole in the utility spot for the Twins.
Enter La Tortuga.
Now as the lone utilityman on the Minnesota Twins roster, Willians Astudillo was called to fill in mid-game for Luis Arraez on Monday afternoon, before starting at 3rd base on Tuesday. Since getting real playing time, Astudillo has appeared locked in at the plate. The utilityman went 3-for-4 with two doubles on Monday before backing it up with a 2-for-4 performance on Tuesday. Astudillo has racked up hits with some oomf, too, connecting with 3 balls deemed as “hard hits” of 95+ MPH, including two of them over 107 MPH.
Where there is always the most hesitation with Astudillo comes in the field, as he is able to play a multitude of positions, however you really aren’t super comfortable with him playing most of those positions. To this point, Astudillo has primarily played at third base, which suits his game well as 3rd base doesn’t require as much range as some of the other positions. Thus far, Tortuga has more than held his own at the hot corner, making the plays that he should make up to this point, and yet to look over-matched. Further, Astudillo’s ability to play catcher has allowed Rocco Baldelli the flexibility to use his catchers as pinch hitters on Monday and Tuesday, knowing that he has a third catcher he can utilize in a pinch, if needed.
Willians Astudillo burst onto the scene with the Minnesota Twins in 2018 as a July call-up, slashing .355/.371/.516 in 29 games. In the 66 games in which he has appeared since, though, Astudillo has posted an OPS of just .684. Astudillo has shown that he can make contact with the best of them, however his lack of patience at the plate has consistently prohibited him from putting together quality at-bats and capitalizing on pitches that he can drive. As a result, Astudillo was no slam-dunk to make the roster. Through his first handful of at bats in 2021, the Venezuelan utilityman has found pitches he can drive and shown the pop that he possesses when he gets pitches in the zone.
As with any article written 5 days into the baseball season, small samples are extremely dangerous to put any stock into. The very, very initial returns on Willians Astudillo at the plate, though, have been promising. Championship teams are built on depth, and while at full strength the Minnesota Twins will not need Astudillo, the first week of the season has shown us just how important depth can be.
What has been your first impression of Willians Astudillo in 2021? Do you think he could come into play as a key depth piece for the Minnesota Twins? Leave a comment below and start the conversation!
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