What to do with Willians Astudillo

The man, the myth, the legend known as Willians Astudillo has been quite the topic of conversation over the last few months. He burst onto the fantasy baseball scene last September with the Twins and the hype train has been running strong as we approach the Fantasy Baseball draft season. But is the hype fake or is Willians Astudillo a solid player and a good looking Fantasy Baseball catcher? Let’s take a bit of a dive into Willians Astudillo’s numbers and see what we should expect in 2019 with the Willians Astudillo Fantasy Baseball Profile.

Astudillo has been bouncing around the minor leagues since 2009 and got his first cup of coffee last season with the Twins. Astudillo was mainly a catcher, but has seen time at the corner infield positions and even as a mercy game pitcher. He is only 27 years old and could very easily be reaching his playing prime, but the big question is will the playing time be there? We know the Twins have new manager Rocco Baldelli. They’ve added Nelson Cruz to DH, Miguel Sano should be back full time at 3B, they acquired C.J. Cron to play 1B and grabbed Jonathan Schoop who can play all over the infield. Currently the Twins have Jason Castro and Mitch Garver on the roster to catch, they are not offensive juggernauts by any means, but they can definitely stop Astudillo from getting playing time. Also, Roster Resource doesn’t have Astudillo starting with the team.

Last season Astudillo played in 30 games for the Twins and hit .355 with 3 HR, 9 R and 21 RBIs. Yes, those numbers may be over the top a bit, but still a .355 BA with a .333 xBA and a .341 BABIP, so not too out of the expected results. When you look at his wOBA he had an awesome .379 wOBA with a .362 xwOBA, yet again an expected drop off but not out of this world crazy. He also displayed insane plate discipline by only striking out at 3.1% of the time which seems insane, but if you look at his entire career to this point it’s on point as it is 3.1 K%.

All those numbers look good, look like something I would want to buy into, but let’s look at some potentially red flags (outside of playing time). For a player with so few strikeouts, leading to so much contact and balls in play you may wonder why he doesn’t showcase a ton of power. Well, he only had a 5.5% barrel rate which is definitely less than ideal and was below the league average of 6.1%. His exit velocity of 87.1 mph was also below the league average of 87.3 mph, so not too far off. So far it feels like we are still just trying to find something to pick at with Astudillo. A few other potential issues could be a 9.1% HR/FB rate which is definitely not ideal but can correlate to his exit velo and launch angels being basically average. The other factor could be 40.7% GB rate compared to only a 36.3% FB rate. Astudillo doesn’t hit the ball as hard as we’d hope for a potential power bat, and he does hit the ball a ton on the ground, yet still is very productive for a catcher thanks to all those balls in play.

When looking at Steamer 600 for the 2019 season, Astudillo rates out very well. They have him playing 125 G with a .290 BA, 13 HR, 52 R, 56 RBI and even 6 SBs. These Steamer projections would potentially have Willians Astudillo as a Top 10 fantasy baseball catcher.

Last but not least, he’s crushing it down in Venezuela right now. Through 55 games he has a solid slash line of .316/.481/841 with 8 HR, 41 RBI and 29 Rs.

With all this being said the main thing we have to look at is a small MLB sample last season, playing in September where there is an easier talent pool at times for him to tee off against. Also, we have to really pay attention to Spring Training and try and get an idea of what his potential playing time will be in 2019. If Astudillo is with the Twins for most of the season he’s a Top 10 catcher and should be targeted on draft day. If he starts in the minors he may still deserve a roster spot in deep leagues or at least be one of the first players on your watch list for the moment he gets the call again. For now let’s enjoy the banter on Willians Astudillo, the man I shall forever call “Little Sexy” in honor of Big Sexy Bartolo Colon.