Twins rookie and 5-foot-9 folk hero Willians Astudillo made his pitching debut
If you haven't already heard the good word about Willians Astudillo, a few things to know:
1. Originally scooped up by the Phillies out of Venezuela in 2008, he bounced between the Philadelphia, Atlanta and Arizona organizations before signing with the Twins last November.
2. He stands an improbable 5-foot-9, 225 pounds.
3. He never strikes out -- in 188 plate appearances at Triple-A this season, Astudillo somehow whiffed just nine times.
4. Despite being built like a particularly sturdy barrel, he plays everywhere: In the two weeks since Minnesota first called him up to the Show, the Twins have put Astudillo everywhere from second base to DH to center field (yes, seriously, center field). And in the Minors, he has spent most of his time at catcher.
Unsurprisingly, he's become a bit of an internet folk hero in recent days. For all that versatility, though, there was one spot that Astudillo had never played in the Majors: pitcher. Luckily for all of us, that changed during Saturday's loss to the Rays.
With Minnesota trailing, 14-6, heading into the ninth, the Twins called on Astudillo to give their bullpen a break and record the final three outs. The first batter he faced? Carlos Gomez, who was having so much fun:
Alas, despite some pretty good velocity -- 86 mph on his fastball! -- Gomez was ready:
In all, it was a bit of a rough outing for Astudillo: He made it through the inning, but not before giving up five runs on five hits. But hey, Minnesota's bullpen was spared, and now we can cross pitcher off of the Willians Astudillo Positional Bingo Card.