Willians Astudillo doesn’t “enjoy” or “disagree” with his longtime nickname, La Tortuga. Given to him at 15 years old, the name became popular when the Minnesota Twins’ utility player reached the major leagues in 2018.
“At the beginning when I first got called up and people started using ‘La Tortuga,’ I felt kind of weird about it,” Astudillo said in 2019. “But I’m getting used to it. And, since the people like it, it’s OK.”
In 104 games over four seasons, the 29-year-old Venezuelan is a .295 hitter with eight home runs, 49 RB, and a 22.50 ERA. In Friday’s loss to the Los Angeles Angels, Astudillo made his second big-leagues pitching appearance, pitching a one-two-three eighth inning to cut his ERA in half. And he did so with two of his seven pitches registering at 46 mph:
"You couldn't really get in Willians's way on this,” Twins’ manager Rocco Baldelli said after asking if Astudillo or fellow utility man JT Riddle wanted to pitch. “He was basically volunteering himself to go out there and pitch. I'm not surprised that he can throw 45 mph strikes and zip them in there when he wants a 75 mph fastball."
There’s no official and/or reliable record of the slowest pitch in MLB history, though Astudillo’s 46-mph heaters matched Clayton Kershaw’s 46-mph eephus pitch from 2016:
NFL Draft Roundup
In the three weeks since the 49ers acquired the No. 3 pick from the Dolphins in exchange for two future first-round picks, we’ve known they are targeting quarterbacks but didn’t know which one—Mac Jones, Justin Fields or Trey Lance. And for three weeks, Jones sat atop odds for the No. 3 pick. Suddenly, last week, Jones fell behind Fields, who, as of Saturday morning, is the favorite (-125), ahead of Jones (+150), and Lance (+300).
It’s unclear what prompted the change, though there were some high-level media appearances last week that could’ve pushed the public toward Fields, forcing oddsmakers to adjust accordingly, including Warren Sharp’s comments on The Bill Simmons Podcast, and SI’s Albert Breer comments on the Rich Eisen Show:
"I think there's some NCAA rules about who can go run routes for him,” Breer said. “So two weeks ago, whenever the first pro day was, they had Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson running routes for Justin, and for one reason or another, by rule, those guys couldn't do it again. It's NCAA draft rules, whatever it is.
"[I]f you look at Kyle Shanahan's background, it's in receivers. He was a receiver at Texas, right? And so, I think getting to see Justin's intricate knowledge of the way that the receivers should run routes, the way he wanted them to run routes, where Justin's head is with all these questions that have come up on him, I think it's just sort of an interesting detail, and maybe something that Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch can take away from the experience."
Other NFL draft notes: Conor Orr’s Mock Draft 2.0 ... Buying or selling the latest mock draft trends … Ten boom-or-bust prospects … Three surprise players who could go in the first round … Ideal top two picks for each team … The Bengals are set on Ja’Marr Chase at No. 5, according to reports.
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