Phillies Instructs catcher/first baseman Willians Astudillo reminds me of a right-handed hitting Yogi Berra. He is similar in size to Yogi and wears the No. 8 on the back his Insturcts uniform. He catches and can play other positions just like Yogi did. Even Yogi played two games in his 19 year Hall of Fame career at first base and Willians even played four games in left field for the Lakewood BlueClaws this season in the South Atlantic League.
I will always remember Yogi for many things including: catching Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series and the Pirates Bill Mazeroski lining the game’s winning elk-off home run over his head in left in Game Seven of the 1960 World Series. You see Yogi Berra was my childhood hero. I was a Yankee fan then and wanted to be a catcher just like Yogi until I realized I could only throw left-handed.
Another thing I remember about Yogi was he was hard to strikeout. It was said that he was a bad ball hitter. I have not seen Astudillo hit enough to know if likes to hit the balls out of the strike zone but like Yogi he is next to impossible to strikeout. In has long career Yogi average striking out only once in every 20 plate appearances. Willians topped that and in 465 plate appearance this season in Lakewood he struck out only 20 times to average only 1 strikeout in every 23 plate appearances. He is just the opposite of the likes of Ryan Howard and Marlon Byrd who were strikeout machines this season.
Astudillo battled most the season for the SAL batting average lead and finished second, hitting .333. He did hit four home runs so he can go deep. He was named to the 2014 post season SAL All-Star Team. The first BlueClaw to do so since 2011. He came back from a leg injury which cost him the entire 2013 season to play 51 games at first, catch 33 games, DH 30 games and start four games in left.
Willians has looked good in the couple of Instructs games I have seen him play. In one game in which he caught he made a strong throw to second to get the runner. SEE HERE. In Saturday’s game he had one of only four hits for the Phillies against the Orioles by ripping a base hit down the first base line. SEE HERE.
He was signed by the Phillies in 2009 as an international free agent out of Venezuela and played three seasons in the VSL. He played for the GCL Phillies in 2012 and Lakewood this year.
The 22 year-old Willians Astudillo is Rule Five eligible this December and would make a nice 25th player on some major league roster. In fact anyone who can catch, play multiple positions, rarely strikes out and has a career minor league batting average of over .300 even if it has not been higher than A ball is someone who can contribute off of any bench.