Gleeman: Willians Astudillo is proving it

From SABR member Aaron Gleeman at Baseball Prospectus on April 11, 2019:

I’m a lifelong Minnesotan who’s been writing about the Twins for 17 years and co-hosting a podcast about the Twins for nine years. I’ve never seen any player become more immediately beloved by Twins fans than Willians Astudillo without being a star. Not even close, really. He’s reached cult hero status. Prince. Dylan. La Tortuga. Last week, I witnessed a room full of 125 people erupt when he appeared on screen as a pinch-hitter, not unlike the pop Hulk Hogan used to get at WrestleMania. And with each passing day, the notion of Astudillo actually being a star is slightly less implausible.

Astudillo wasn’t in the Twins’ plans last year, signing a minor-league deal and spending the first three months of his age-27 season at Triple-A. Called into action when injuries depleted their catching depth, Astudillo made his big-league debut after a decade in the minors and hit .355 in 29 games. Then he played winter ball and hit .316. No sure thing to make the Opening Day roster, Astudillo hit .317 this spring to secure a bench spot. Slated for a minimal role as the third catcher, Astudillo has already played his way into semi-regular status by going 8-for-23 (.348) with four extra-base hits.

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Originally published: April 12, 2019. Last Updated: April 12, 2019.