The Minnesota Twins have had a revolving door of position players throughout this season.
The Minnesota Twins have dealt with injuries, poor performance, and even a suspension during the early parts of this season. Willians Astudillo is the latest young player to have the chance to prove himself in MLB for Minnesota.
Jeff Sullivan breaks down Astudillo’s ability to avoid strikeouts, among other things, in a recent article on Fangraphs and he couldn’t be more right. Astudillo has 22 fewer strikeouts during his nine-season Minor League/International League career than Aaron Judge has so far this season. I’ll let that sink in for a second…okay, ready to move on?
In an era where batters are either hitting home runs or striking out more frequently than ever, Astudillo is a rare breed indeed. He has struck out more than 10 times, never more than 20, during only four seasons of his Minor League career.
However, Astudillo rarely takes walks and that is what makes him a true mystery in this day and age. He has taken more than 10 walks only four times during his Minor League career as well. The catcher by trade doesn’t hit for much power either, and that could be what has held him back to this point.
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Speaking of being a catcher…
Minnesota has yet to deploy Astudillo behind the plate. Instead, he has played in the outfield before making a start at third base last night. He’s more athletic than his husky frame suggests and can play multiple positions adequately. Astudillo has capitalized early on his brief opportunity in the Twin Cities.
However, Jorge Polanco has returned from suspension, so Astudillo could see his time limited in the infield. Eduardo Escobar has already been filling in nicely since the Minnesota Twins sent Miguel Sano to the Minors. Polanco being back means Ehire Adrianza will be back playing in a utility role. That leaves Astudillo to fend for time in the outfield or behind the plate. His best bet to see significant playing time is at catcher.
Why Astudillo deserves a chance behind the plate
Bobby Wilson has nine hits through his first 80 plate appearances during this season. It doesn’t matter if he’s playing Yadier Molina level defense, which he isn’t by the way, his .132 batting average says enough. The sad truth for Twins fans is that’s the “everyday” catcher for Minnesota.
However, backup Mitch Garver has definitely proven one thing during this season, he is not an MLB caliber backstop. Who would’ve thought that we would be missing Jason Castro THIS much at this point of the season?
Although Garver is hitting .262, he has only 11 runs batted in and provides very little power. He has only 11 extra-base hits during 164 plate appearances and that does very little to make up for his horrendous defense.
Astudillo has been at worst an average catcher during his time in the Minor Leagues. Unfortunately for the Twins, that’s an upgrade at this point of the season. He has already shown that he can hit in the big leagues. However, now is the time for the Twins to give him reps behind the plate.
The 27-year-old can still blossom into a star for Minnesota. Manny Piña broke through for the Milwaukee Brewers during his age 30 season. Astudillo has followed a similar course and could have similar impact if given the opportunity.
The Twins are fading from the playoff picture fast so now is the time for Astudillo to show what he has to offer. This is his moment, can he seize it? This writer really hopes he does.