Progress towards return for Giants' Villalona

Progress towards return for Giants' Villalona
September 3, 2011, 4:24 am
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Sept. 2, 2011

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Mychael Urban
CSNBayArea.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- The strange saga of Giants prospect Angel Villalona took another turn Friday, and for the first time since he was charged with murder in his native Dominican Republic in November 2009, it was a positive turn.According to Giants vice president of baseball operations Bobby Evans, Villalona, who signed for what was then a franchise record (for an amateur) 2.1 million bonus as a 16-year-old in 2006 but has been on baseball's restricted list since the murder charge was levied against him at age 19, is eligible for re-instatement and likely to soon report to the club's academy in the Dominican Republic."Honestly, it's hard to say exactly what this means right now because there's been so little contact with Villalona and the terminology, legally, in the Dominican isn't exactly what it is here," Evans told CSNBayArea.com during a brief one-on-one in the AT&T Park press box as the Giants hosted the Diamondbacks in the opener of a crucial three-game series. "So it's difficult to decipher, even for us, exactly what's happened and the timeline. But right now the news is that he's eligible to be re-instated."The next news will come when Angel is, in fact, re-instated, and the next news will be when he reports to the academy, and then when we see exactly what we have." Villalona was charged with murdering a 25-year-old man outside a bar in La Romana, D.R., while on the disabled list of the Single-A San Jose Giants and on a team-approved visit home. He spent three months in jail before being released on bail, and it was widely reported after his release that he'd reached a financial settlement -- the San Francisco Chronicle reported the sum as being just under 139,000 -- with the family of the murder victim.Speculation at the time was that the settlement was paid in exchange for the family dropping the charges against Villalona, and the family did, indeed, ask prosecutors to drop them. The prosecution refused to do so, however, and the charges remained pending until sometime this summer, when they were dropped for lack of evidence. Shortly thereafter, Villalona filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against the Giants, demanding more than 10,000 in back pay and a reported 5 million in punitive damages. The suit, Evans suggested, will be resolved before Villalona is asked to report to the team's island academy, likely at the end of September.
REWIND: Former prospect Villalona suing Giants for 5 million
Evans conceded that the entire process has been confusing at times to the organization, largely because it's played out in another country."It's obviously something we've taken very seriously as an organization, but it's been difficult at times to really get a handle on," he said.Villalona, 21, enjoyed the best of his three seasons as a professional in 2008, swatting 17 homers with 64 RBIs and a .263 batting average over 123 games with Augusta (Ga.), San Francisco's low Single-A affiliate in the South Atlantic League.