The Twins will select the contract of catcher Willians Astudillo from Triple-A Rochester and clear a spot on the 40-man roster by designating right-hander Felix Jorge for assignment, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Minnesota is clearing an active roster spot for Astudio by placing utilityman Taylor Motter on the 7-day DL with concussion-like symptoms. Motter recently crashed hard into the wall while trying to chase down a deep fly-ball to the right-center field gap against the White Sox.
Jorge, 24, made his big league debut with Minnesota in 2017, tossing a combined 7 2/3 innings but allowing nine runs in a pair of spot starts. Inauspicious as that debut may have been, the righty did turn in a strong season in Double-A last year, working to a 3.54 ERA with 6.6 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 0.74 HR/9 and a 50.2 percent ground-ball rate in 134 2/3 innings (22 starts).
This season has been a lost affair for Jorge so far, as he’s been sidelined due to a triceps issue in the minors (as Berardino recently noted). He made a pair of rehab assignments for the Twins’ Rookie-level affiliate in the Gulf Coast League, but he’ll now have to go through the DFA process before it’s determined if he’ll join the rotation in Triple-A Rochester or end up with another club — either via trade or via waiver claim.
There’s certainly reason to believe that other clubs would have interest in Jorge, if healthy. He’s long rated as one of the Twins’ better prospects, ranking among their top 30 in each offseason dating back to 2012-13, per Baseball America. While Jorge’s upside is limited by a pedestrian fastball, he’s said to have at least an average slider and changeup, and he’s demonstrated strong control throughout his minor league tenure, averaging just 2.2 walks per nine innings pitched in 689 innings. He also has a pair of minor league options remaining, which obviously enhances his appeal.
That said, Jorge is also behind a number of starters on the Twins’ depth chart in Triple-A, as each of Fernando Romero, Stephen Gonsalves and Adalberto Mejia (who’ll start Saturday in Minnesota in his 2018 debut), and between this year’s triceps issue and the best-case scenario of a back-of-the-rotation arm, the Twins felt comfortable jettisoning him from the 40-man roster.
As for Astudillo, he’ll be making his MLB debut with the Twins and will arrive on the scene as something of an oddity. The 26-year-old has a comically low strikeout rate in the minors both this season (4.8 percent) and throughout his career (3.2 percent). He also rarely walks, though, doing so at a 2.7 percent clip this year and 3.4 percent for his career. Put another way, the 5’9″, 225-pound Astudillo has walked in just five of his 188 PAs this season but has also struck out on just nine occasions. He’s hitting .290/.321/.489 with seven homers on the season and will give the Twins another option behind the dish, where they’ve struggled tremendously all season long.