As the Twins Stay Hot, La Tortuga Earns a Warm Embrace in Minnesota

As the Twins Stay Hot, La Tortuga Earns a Warm Embrace in Minnesota

That hot streak in the minors was no mirage. Astudillo went 3 for 4 in Minnesota’s 9-4 win over Tampa Bay on Tuesday, giving him two three-hit games in the span of a week.

Astudillo developed his batting eye as a youngster, using a broomstick to hit corn kernels tossed by his father, Williams Astudillo, a former Venezuelan winter league shortstop. (Astudillo’s brother Wilfred is a catcher in the Mets system, and cousin Wilfran an infielder in Toronto’s.) His ability to make contact, frame pitches and fill multiple positions intrigued the Twins, who signed him in November 2017 as a minor-league free agent. The Phillies originally signed him as a 17-year-old.

“There were some markers that suggested he had upside to tap into,” Twins minor league operations director Jeremy Zoll said.

Since joining the Twins, the versatile Astudillo has played every position except his father’s — shortstop — and batted in all nine spots in the lineup. In his last five games he played catcher, third base, second base and right field.

“He has a nose for the ball out there,” Baldelli said. “You put him at first base, he can make plays like a good quality infielder with good feet and hands and transfers and things like that. He can do all of these things, and it makes you feel better about putting him in any spot, really.”

Twins utility infielder Ehire Adrianza won a Venezuelan winter ball championship with Astudillo in 2014-15, for Caribes de Anzoátegui. Adrianza thought Astudillo, then in Class A, could hit, though he struggled for playing time on a team with 16 eventual major leaguers.

“That’s why I’m very proud that he made it to the big leagues,” Adrianza said. “He showed the people that it doesn’t matter if he’s a chubby guy, tall guy, short guy, fat guy. You have to come and get it. That’s what he did.”

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