Saturday, February 11, 2012

Villalona's Nearly Here: Got Work Visa

Andy Baggarly of the Merc reported here that Villalona got his work visa and will be able to return to the U.S. to play ball for the Giants.  Here are some key excerpts, the URL is usually shut down after a certain period of time:
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.

Giants Thoughts

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.

7 comments:

  1. Glad though not surprised to see, ogc, that you don't presume that Villalona was guilty of murder, as so many others seem to relish doing or at least teasing their moral self-images with. Your able analysis of what is yet to be proved, as to his baseball skills, I prefer in every way to dwelling on unproven, unprovable event(s)in his recent past.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yeah, I try to deal with the facts here.

      Horrible things happened, but we have no idea what that was, exactly. Clearly, a family lost their son, that was the most horrible thing obviously.

      But was the other horrible thing that Villalona shot the fatal shot, or that he was extorted by a rival gang who was jealous of his wealth? For all we know, one of the dead guy's side shot him, friendly fire has happened before. Likewise, maybe Villalona was aware he would need to defend himself (or one of his homies) and carried a gun.

      Obviously, we'll never know exactly what happened, unless the murder weapon can be produced and there is only one set of fingerprints are on it. In the real world, unlike the TV world, crimes are not easily resolved, and sometimes the people who should be on the side of good are the bad guys (a San Jose Mercury investigative report showed that a large portion of convictions were marred by withheld evidence or even fake evidence that prosecutors did to gain conviction).

      Thanks.

      Delete
  2. Villalona has a much bigger frame than Pablo so he carries the weight much better. I don't think he's nearly as athletic as Pablo so the better weight distribution doesn't necessarily translate into better performance.

    I wouldn't count on anything from Angel V at this point. He's like found money, so whatever comes of it is good.

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    1. Thanks for point that out, I was remiss in not dwelling on the fact that we cannot count on anything from Angel at this point. Found money is the right attitude.

      Thinking back, I assumed that my reader would be aware that he's an unknown quality because he missed two seasons of professional play.

      However, there might be those who came to my site for the first time or might not be as aware of Angel's negative, so I'm glad that DrB lent his expertise here like this.

      Thanks also for noting the physical difference. I had read about Sandoval athletism as he was rising up the farm system, so I was a little shocked to see how big he really was. Still, while rare, there are big guys who are still, nonetheless, athletic. And he apparently is one of them, as evidenced by how quickly he has transformed himself into the top 3B defensively, despite missing a large part of the season, his Defensive Runs Saved was still head and shoulders above the rest even though it is a counting stat and he missed so many games.

      While not as athletic, I would note also that most profiles of his potential, even before he played a professional game, noted that he should be above average defensively, whether 3B or 1B.

      Still, as a fan, one had to doubt that, given the pictures of his that circulated in the past. Again, hopefully he worked on shaping his body into better shape while he was dealing with the legal system, and that should help him achieve such potential.

      Delete
  3. Fellas,

    I agree. Found money. Let's see what happens. The fact he wanted back in and forced the issue is a great first step. Assuming the visa goes OK, the type of shape he is in when he steps on the field in Arizona is the next step.

    I really like how OGC keeps going back to AnVil. Just like Timmy was "The Franchise" for starved fans in need of hope, AnVil was the first commitment to changing the culture. Even as a washout, he represents a different way of thinking by the guys who control the pursestrings. Well, that and the fact he was high up on BA's top 100. Let's see what he can do.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Totally agree with your comment, thanks.

      Though honestly, I keep going back because he's found money that could pay off big in boosting our current farm system's potential production. Good point about how he's a symbol of the Giants changed attitude towards international free agents.

      But I would also note other factors that might have affected that. One is that the Giants had egg on their face for a long while that they had to live down. In the 90's they stole one of the Dodger's lead procurer of baseball talent that most thought was a coup, until it was uncovered that he was a child abuser. I'm sure many prospects didn't really want to talk to the Giants, particularly in the DR, where the abuses reportedly happened.

      In addition, they had gone that Carribean big money route by pushing to get a big name Cuban pitcher in the 90's (forgot his name, Osvaldo Fernandez?) who flopped miserably.

      As you have noted before, here and elsewhere, Sabean does seem to learn after getting burned by a move. So he might have laid off signing big money there for a while because of that Cuban pitcher.

      And, really, as Baseball America's study showed, and anyone can see from the list of Top 10 biggest bonuses paid, there are a lot more busts like Guzman, than hits like Miguel Cabrera. So spending big money has not really been a good route to take in that region, it is better to sprinkle it around and pick up more guys, volume over quality, mainly because it is so hard to judge quality, particularly considering the possibility that he might be older than he claimed to be.

      Yeah, people forget that AnVil was a Top 40 prospect pre-layoff, and if he can come anywhere close to that, our future farm system production will be greatly enhanced.

      Delete
  4. I am comforted by this news because at least the Giants may be able to salvage something with AnVil. If Josh Hamilton has taught us anything, you can't ever count out a guy with talent. Villalona has talent, plain and simple.

    I will say though that the weakest area of Angel's game was his plate discipline and after being out of baseball for two years, it's going to take some major catching up for him. Remember, this was a guy who was known for striking out poorly and two years removed from professional pitching isn't going to help his development in this category at all.

    To be honest, if he's anywhere but San Jose next year, it'll be a surprise. He did not have a great year in the Cal League in 2009, but he had youth on his side and I think he was going to start the year in SJ in 2010 anyways. However, I do hope that he can have a decent year in SJ. It would stink if he did poorly and had to go back to Augusta or even Salem-Keizer. Then again, progress of any kind (be it the Cal League or Rookie ball) would probably be a surplus, since most Giants fans (including myself) figured his professional career was done over a year ago.

    ReplyDelete

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