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Astudillo, Telis Facing Suspension in Venezuela for Sucker Punch

Seth Stohs

It may have nothing to do with learning that he had been Designated for Assignment by the Twins, but Willians Astudillo is making headlines in the Venezuelan Winter League for throwing a sucker punch in an in-game benches-clearing brawl on Friday. Teammate Tomas Telis, who played for the Saints in 2021, was also involved. 

In an awful scene on the baseball field in Venezuela, a couple of former Minnesota Twins will likely face suspension.

After Marlins pitcher Luis Madero, pitching for Lara, hit a batter with a pitch, benches cleared. 

As the teams were coming together, Willians Astudillo ran in from the third base line and sucker-punched Madero, clocking him in the head with a punch. Tomas Telis, the batter who was hit by the pitch and one of the Twins best Triple-A players since 2019, came in and kicked Madera while he was on the ground. Last week when the teams played, Madera was involved in another benches-clearing brawl. 

On Friday, the Twins announced that "La Tortuga" had been designated for assignment or release to make room on the team's 40-man roster. Since making a great first impression in 2018, Astudillo has not hit much for the Twins. It will be interesting to see if any other organizations had claimed Astudillo and how this event may alter those decisions. In eight games,

Astudillo was hitting .281 for Caribes. His young brother, Wilfred, is also on the team. So is former Twins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia who, at 30, is hitting .143 through 14 games. 

Tomas Telis had played in 122 MLB games between 2014 and 2018 when he signed with the Twins. In 2019, he hit .330 for the Rochester Red Wings. He was at the Twins alternate site in 2020. He hit .296 with 12 homers for the St. Paul Saints this season. He already had over 100 plate appearances for Caribes when this happened and is hitting .435 with 12 doubles and three homers in 22 games. 

A quick twitter search for "Willians Astudillo" contains tweets in Spanish from baseball fans that are not supportive of Astudillo. Google Translate allows me to try to interpret what these fans are saying. Some simply write that they would like to see the league use Astudillo as an example and suspend him for a long time. Others have responded by saying things like Astudillo deserves a baseball to the head. One writes that Astudillo should face criminal charges, that this goes beyond "sports" saying he is a danger to others. 

Obviously this goes completely against the reputation that Astudillo had in the eyes and minds of most Twins fans. He was La Tortuga. He's got the big smile. He's always having fun. 

And, to throw out an opinion, it is likely that is the real Willians Astudillo and his actions from Friday night were a brief lapse in judgment. As we know, that is no excuse and still needs to have consequences. 

Will update if and when more information becomes available. 

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Oswaldo Arcia is only 30. That's crazy to think. I really felt like getting DFA'd by the Twins was going to light a fire under him. He had a huge year on a MiLB contract with the Diamondbacks, but he was jogjammed behind other talent and didn't get a shot at the MLB roster that year. Then it was off to Japan where he performed poorly for a single season.

For a guy who seemingly had so much talent to fall so far and so hard.

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So often we comment without knowing all the facts.  The pitcher had just hit Telis.  Was it intentional and what pitch, a hard fastball?  Where did he hit him, was it near the head?  Apparently he had also hit one of their hitters last time out.  Same two questions?  Were there other HB from him or that team recently?

Not saying La Tortuga should have sucker punched him.  But depending on the answers to the above questions, may understand it.

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