Angel Villalona, the one-time top prospect of the San Francisco Giants before a murder charge in the Dominican Republic delayed his path to the majors, will be in big-league camp in Scottsdale after sorting out visa issues.
Ben Badler of Baseball America reports a team official confirmed that Villalona, 22, has received a work visa and will join the Giants for spring training. Last season Villalona was unable to join the team in Scottsdale because he didn't receive a visa to enter the United States. The Giants added Villalona to their 40-man roster and he hit .303 with seven home runs in 44 games in the Dominican Summer League.
"Hopefully there's not too much I have to do," manager Bruce Bochy said of his role in Villalona's spring training involvement. "He'll be out there working just like the rest of the guys. Just go out and play baseball. Don't get caught up in other things. Try to eliminate the distractions and focus on playing baseball."
In 2009, Villalona was considered one of the Giants' best power-hitting prospects after signing with San Francisco as a 16-year-old in 2006 and receiving a then-record $2.1 million bonus. But while recovering from an injury, Villalona traveled to the Dominican Republic, where he was arrested and charged for the shooting death of Mario Felix de Jesus Velete. The charges were dropped and Villalona reportedly reached a financial settlement with the victim's family.
Villalona is currently on MLB's restricted list, but the Giants will eventually petition the commissioner's office to remove him when he arrives in the United States.
In 298 minor league games, initially as a third baseman and more recently as a first baseman, Villalona owns a .272 average with 38 home runs and 178 RBI. He has a minor league career strikeout-to-walk ratio of 275/65.