Angel Villalona, a first baseman in the Giants organization, is expected to be ready for Spring Training this year, according to Andrew Baggarly at Mercury News. If that name sounds familiar to Giants fans, it should. Back in 2006, the Giants signed him to a $2.1 million signing bonus; a club record at the time.
Villalona was a top prospect in the Giants system. That is until September 2009 when he was “arrested and charged in a barroom shooting that left 25-year-old Mario Felix de Jesus Velete dead in La Romana (Dominican Republic).”
If you’re wondering why he isn’t in jail, well, it turns out all charges were dropped and he settled a civil lawsuit with the family. Now that his legal matters are cleared up, and baseball has allowed him to be re-instated, he (and the Giants) are hoping to pick up where they left off. The last step was to get him cleared by US Immigration Services and approve for a Visa, which just happened. According to Baggs, he’s not being looked at for opening day roster, but most likely will be assigned to Single-A in San Jose.
On a personal note, I’m not sure how I feel about him. I hope it works out for him, but who knows what kind of shape he’s in or if he’ll even be ready to play. The Giants clearly feel that he’s worth taking another chance on, and I’m sure trying to get some sort of return on that big signing bonus they gave him years ago. He pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, but also settled with the family which seems a little shady to me. However, guilty or not, I’m sure we’re all hoping he’s put his past behind him and is ready to play come Spring Training.