n my desperate attempt to be Willians Astudillo’s hype man, I stumbled upon an amazing fact.
Astudillo, the career minor league player who produced in a big way in a small role for the Twins last season, dominated Venezuelan Winter League play this season. He finished with a .325 batting average, 10 home runs and 46 RBIs. And in 234 at bats, he had just one more strikeout (4) than stolen bases (3).
The effort brought him tantalizingly close to being named MVP of the league. Alas, in a close vote he came in second … behind former Twins slugger Delmon Young, who led the league with 19 home runs.
Perhaps Young’s dominance, given that he hasn’t played in the majors since 2015, should temper any enthusiasm about Astudillo’s winter output.
But I say nonsense. Combined with his .887 OPS for the Twins last season, Astudillo seems to be playing his way into legitimate contention for a role in 2019 as a backup catcher/utility player at least. I’m not sure the Twins feel the same way, but they should.
Astudillo, by the way, is 27 and was born on Oct. 14, 1991 — the day after the Twins clinched the AL pennant on the way to winning their second World Series in five seasons. These are just facts.