Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dominican prospect Angel Villalona plays first game in three years

It has been a long road for Dominican prospect Angel Villalona. Once one of the top five prospects in the Giants system, he was arrested and charged with murder in the Dominican Republic in 2009. He faced civil and criminal prosecution. The civil case was dropped after he made a payment to the family, and the criminal case eventually fell apart due to lack of evidence.

This is such a sad case. I predicted back in 2009 that the Villalona would eventually be cleared. I think Villalona or someone in his group may have committed the crime, but the whole situation seemed like a bar fight gone wrong. And I suggested the victim's family may have been trying to extort money.

We will never know what happened in that bar in La Romana, the hometown of Villalona. The prosecuting branch of Dominican law enforcement does not have the same resources at its disposal as their American counter parts, and that is the main reason I thought this case may get dropped. It seemed like a 'he said, he said' case to begin with, and without substantial resources it was a hard case to prove.

As for the victim and the civil case, the family of the victim probably got what they deserved even if it was an accident or a bar fight gone too far. Villalona gave them a payment of $139,000.

So, Villalona lost three years of his life and baseball career. Much worse can be said for the victim's family.  But he is only 21 and has finally been cleared to join the Giants system again. He started out with a game in the Dominican Summer League Thursday and went 1-4.

He is still going to have to jump through some hoops just to get a visa to play in the US again, so expect him to play in the DSL the rest of the season. And at 21, he could still turn into that power hitting first baseman that everyone predicted him to be back three years ago as an 18 year old prospect. It will be a long road though, as he is starting from square one in the lowest division of professional baseball in all of the minor league system.

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