Angel Villalona's visa not approved for medical reasons

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Angel Villalona's visa not approved for medical reasons

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Former top prospect Angel Villalona no longer faces murder charges in the Dominican Republic, but he will not report by Thursday's deadline for position players because his visa has not been approved by the U.S. Consulate in Santo Domingo, Giants vice president Bobby Evans said.

Villalona was deemed unfit to qualify for his P1 visa, which requires that he establish his status as an elite athlete, Evans said. It's the first time the Giants could remember a player's visa being flagged for that reason.

Giants officials would not disclose Villalona's physical issues, saying that it is a combination of conditioning and medical reasons "that he has dealt with in the past."

"We don't know if this delay is 24 hours or two weeks," Evans said. "We're hoping we can convince them he is in the condition he should be."

Villalona, 21, has not stepped foot in the U.S. since September, 2009, when he left Single-A San Jose on an approved visit to the Dominican while on the disabled list with a strained quadriceps. While there, he was charged int he fatal shooting of a man in a bar near his hometown of La Romana. Charges eventually were dropped after nearly two years, during which time Villalona was either in custody or under house arrest.

Major League Baseball removed Villalona from its restricted list late last year and the Giants added him to their 40-man roster in December in order to protect another team from claiming him in the Rule 5 draft. Players on the 40-man roster receive automatic invites to major league spring training; Villalona has a locker in Scottsdale Stadium with his uniform and workout clothes awaiting him.

Conditioning was an issue for Villalona before his career was put on hold. The thickly built power hitter received a 2.1 million bonus as a 16-year-old -- a franchise record at the time.

Villalona has been working out at the Giants' facility in the Dominican Republic and has been part of a conditioning program that includes baseball work, Giants trainer Dave Groeschner said.

"We're pleased with where he's at on the baseball side," Evans said. "His weight is down from where we started and it's close to what we were targeting. So we're disappointed by the delay. ... We're also hopeful we'll be able to cross this line."

Top pick Heliot Ramos visits AT&T Park, will start Giants career this weekend

Top pick Heliot Ramos visits AT&T Park, will start Giants career this weekend

SAN FRANCISCO — As he was wrapping up the first press conference of his career, Heliot Ramos was asked when he expects to be back at AT&T Park as a player. The 17-year-old smiled and said he hopes to debut in three years. 

“I know it’s hard, but that’s my dream,” Ramos continued. “I know I’ve got to work hard for that.”

A half-dozen Giants officials stood a few feet away, smiling. Three years would be incredibly impressive. It took Christian Arroyo and Ryder Jones four years after being drafted out of high school to reach the big leagues. Buster Posey got a cup of coffee a year after he was drafted, but he was already 22 years old because he had played three years at Florida State. 

Ramos doesn’t turn 18 until September. The Giants hope he is dominating A-ball in three years, and yet, he’s the the kind of prospect that allows them to dream for so much more. 

“If he grew up in Southern California (instead of Puerto Rico) we never would have had a shot at drafting him,” one team official said Tuesday.

Ramos certainly opened eyes in his second trip to AT&T Park, but then again, he put on a display the first time, too. The Giants brought him in for a pre-draft workout and someone pointed out to Ramos that the deepest part of the park was 421 feet. The right-handed hitter, making the transition to a wood bat, wasn’t bothered by the dimensions. He took aim at Triples Alley and tried to blast one out, and he nearly did. Then he started pulling the ball, peppering the left field bleachers with homers and convincing the front office that he was the right pick at No. 19 in this month’s draft. Ramos, described as a potential five-tool center fielder, said he enjoys hitting here.

“It’s a park with a lot of history, and I like that,” he said. 

The clock on his career starts this weekend. Ramos will travel back to Arizona and play in a rookie league game Friday or Saturday. It is always a slow progression for a high school draft pick, but the Giants believe Ramos is physically mature enough to jump right in with both feet. 

Ramos, who said his favorite player is Andrew McCutchen, is listed at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds and he carries it well. One member of the front office compared his body type to Yasiel Puig as a rookie; another called him a “mini-Cespedes.” Bruce Bochy lit up when asked about the physicality of the organization’s latest top pick. 

“Any time you get a young kid like this, the ceiling is so high,” he said. “That excites you.”

Bochy spent some time with Ramos and his family after batting practice. As they posed for photos, the manager looked out at the field and then turned to a PR representative.

“Can he take BP? Put him in the last group,” Bochy said, smiling. “I’ll put him in the lineup tomorrow.”

Ramos didn’t end up taking swings, but if all goes according to his plan, it won’t be long.

Giants lineup: After nine-run outburst on Monday, Bochy makes no changes

Giants lineup: After nine-run outburst on Monday, Bochy makes no changes

Bud Black and Bruce Bochy issued their lineups for Game 2 of their series at AT&T Park:

Rockies (47-32) 
1. Charlie Blackmon (L) CF
2. DJ LeMahieu (R) 2B
3. Nolan Arenado (R) 3B
4. Mark Reynolds (R) 1B
5. Ian Desmond (R) LF
6. Alexi Amarista (L) RF
7. Trevor Story (R) SS
8. Tony Wolters (L) C
9. Jeff Hoffman (R) P

Giants (28-51)
1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Hunter Pence (R) RF
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
6. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
7. Ryder Jones (L) 3B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) LF
9. Matt Cain (R) P (3-7, 5.54 ERA)