The Twins have had a flop of a season and still have a shot to lose 90 games for the sixth time in this horrendous decade. And when you requested “Willians Astudillo” on the internet Saturday, these were the first prompts:
• A video cut on MLB.com of Twins catcher Astudillo lunging to make a throw and retire a Kansas City runner at third, then doing a face plant in the grass. And Michael Clair writing, “You might as well skip out on movies and concerts and seeing friends until baseball season is over because Willians Astudillo demands your constant attention.”
• A video cut on Deadspin of Astudillo’s dash for home on Wednesday night at Target Field and Chris Thompson writing [edited verson], “When Max Kepler sliced a ball into the gap in left-center, True Hero Williams Astudillo hoofed it around the bases like a man being chased by a large predator.’’
The mad dash and the face plant were not Astudillo’s first moments as an internet sensation in 2018: On March 13, he was catching in an exhibition vs. the Yankees and turned a routine toss back to the mound into a no-look throw to first to pick off pinch runner Shane Robinson.
Astudillo, 27 next month, was stuck in the Venezuelan Summer League for three pro seasons. He didn’t make it to the States for rookie league ball until he was 20. He didn’t make it to Class AA until 2016, his eighth pro season.
The Twins signed him in November. He was late for spring training due to a visa complication. Then he showed up — 5-9 (maximum), 240 pounds (minimum), ready to play anywhere and the one hitter left in baseball who rejects walks and doesn’t strike out — and a baseball fan had to love him from the instant of the no-look throw.
I don’t trust the new brain trust to keep Astudillo on the 40-player roster when it’s submitted before the Rule 5 draft that takes place in December. I’m guessing the analytical geniuses will convince themselves a junk-balling lefty is more important than a versatile, determined, fun-loving, chubby guy because he doesn’t draw walks.
And if that happened and I still was a season-ticket holder, I’d boycott.
PLUS THREE FROM PATRICK
More notes on Wondrous Willie:
• Astudillo played 77 games for Caribes in Venezuela last winter — 55 in regular season, 18 in playoffs (won by Caribes) and four in Caribbean World Series.
• He was playing third base for Rochester on Aug. 8 and pulled a hidden-ball trick on Toledo’s Dawel Lugo. Chase DeJong was Rochester’s pitcher.
• He was hit by pitch by Syracuse’s Phillips Valdez on June 25. He humorously faked charging the mound, but the umpires weren’t amused and issued a warning to both teams.