The Giants expect him to be at Scottsdale Stadium when position players report Feb. 23.
Major League Baseball removed Villalona from its restricted list late last year, and the Giants added him to their 40-man roster to prevent another club from plucking him away in the Rule 5 draft. All players on the 40-man roster receive automatic invitations to big league camp in the spring.
Villalona already has a flight booked to the U.S., Evans said. But the club hasn't yet received confirmation that Villalona has gone through the final step in the process to take possession of the visa. That process involves a face-to-face interview, an identity check and proof of travel documents.
He's considered a premier, power-hitting first baseman and has been working out at the Giants' complex in the Dominican. According to scouting reports, he still has plenty of the bat speed that made him a standout talent as a teenager.
Villalona is not a candidate to make the Giants' opening-day roster, but there's a good chance he will be assigned to Single-A San Jose at some point this season.
There has not been a lot of news about his condition or anything so this is pure nuggets of information. First, it is not like he is totally rusty, he has been working out at the Giants Dominican complex, and presumably facing live pitching there, as they note that his bat speed is still there. Which was what I expected, that is why I've been excited about his return to the Giants farm system. Basically, a top 40 level prospect has been dropped back into our farm system, a 5 star prospect, boosting our overall farm system talent level.
San Jose sounds about right, that was the level he was at before his career detour, and he was doing OK there, not great, and at age 21 now, he is age appropriate for top prospect level at the Advanced A level. Though most probably the Giants would start him off in instructional league, then when they think he is ready, either Augusta or even Salem-Keizer, then finally San Jose, maybe for the second half. That should be more than enough to get his feet back on the ground, hopefully.
Also, hopefully he has worked off a lot of his baby fat and is more compact and muscular now, though he should always be a big boi. From what I recall, he was really big, making Sandoval look like a Twiggy in comparison. With all that time off, I hope he worked every day at getting himself into better shape.
If he can get back up to speed, he can still possibly be a good young prospect when he makes the majors, assuming he can get his career back on track. I figured if he had great bat speed when he was 13 YO, there should be no way he would lose it while out of organized baseball. At worse, he can take swings off a tee or other batting equipment, and with his money, he can at least have a pitching machine setup built at his home so that he can bat off of it. That would help keep his reaction speed good enough for when he returned to organized baseball.
With Sandoval and Belt, though, the Giants should be set at those two positions - 1B and 3B - for years, so unless he learns to play the OF (unlikely at his size) or Belt gets pushed out to LF again, Villalona could be just a big trading chip the Giants can use to obtain more pitching or whatever else that they need, when the time comes.