First, take a look at the play
Let’s break this sucker down for a moment. The throw comes in from right field, relayed to third where Tigers’ prospect Dawel Lugo had just advanced. Astudillo, who catches the ball on a hop, looks around to find former Twins player Doug Mientkiewicz, the manager and third base coach of the Toledo Mudhens, approaching Lugo for a quick chat and confidence builder at the bag.
Astudillo told MiLB.com’s Josh Horton afterward that this was when he knew they had a chance to pull it off.
"As soon as I got the ball, I looked at the third-base coach [Toledo skipper Doug Mientkiewicz] and the runner, and they were looking different ways. Petit was the only one who knew that I had the ball in the glove, and then the pitcher, and it worked. It worked the whole time," Astudillo told Horton.
On the mound at the time was recent acquisition Chase De Jong. From De Jong’s perspective, he thought Astudillo was messing around.
"I'm starting to walk back to the mound and I'm upset. I'm asking [Astudillo] for the ball, and he sort of just gives me a quick head shake, like a quick 'no,'" the right-hander told reporters. "And he's kind of a jokester, so I'm thinking, 'All right, now's not the best time to be joking with me.' So I ask for the ball again and he shakes his head again and I'm like, 'OK, something's up.'”
It was great salesmanship all around as Lugo, of course, started to wander off the base and Astudillo quickly applied the tag.
It’s a rarity for sure, but things like the hidden ball trick are one of the reasons why baseball might just be the greatest game on Earth.