The Giants expect former top prospect Angel Villalona, who was arrested in the Dominican Republic in 2009 on a murder charge, to report to spring training on time, according to a report.Villalona, 21, had his work visa application approved by the U.S. Immigration Service, reports the San Jose Mercury News.Were nearly to the end of the process, Giants vice president of baseball operations Bobby Evans said. We participate and assist in that process, but we dont control it. Our expectation is that he will report on time.
While the application has been accepted, Villalona has not officially received final approval. However, Evans told the Mercury News that Villalona has already booked a flight back to the United States, so it's clear that he expects final approval to come soon.At the age of 16, Villalona set a franchise record for international free agents when the Giants signed him for a 2.1 million bonus on Aug. 16, 2006. Baseball America ranked Villalona, a right-handed first baseman, the Giants' top prospect prior to the 2008 season. In three career minor league seasons, the last being in 2009 with the Single-A San Jose Giants, Villalona hit .268 with 31 home runs and 144 RBIs in 254 games.Villalona was charged with the murder of 25-year-old Mario Felix de Jesus Velete in September 2009 and pleaded not guilty in December 2010, according to the court ruling of the Judicial District of La Romana. All charges were dropped after Villalona spent nearly two years both behind bars and under house arrest. Villalona also reportedly reached a settlement with the victim's family to avoid a civil suit.With his legal issues behind him, Villalona was taken off Major League Baseball's restricted list, forcing the Giants to add him to their 40-man roster in order to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. As a member of the 40-man roster, Villalona is automatically invited to spring training.
Rael Enteen is a web producer with CSNBayArea.com. Follow him on Twitter @RaelEnteenCSN.