Cove Chatter 100: #21

Angel Villalona | 1B, 23 yo, 6-3, 255, BR, TR | IFA 2006 DR | (A+) 73 G, 309 PA, .229/.278/.433, .711 OPS, 14 HR, 15 BB, 76 K | (AA) 52 G, 209 PA, .235/.273/.413, .686 OPS, 8 HR, 8 BB, 60 K | (AFL) 19 G, 65 AB, .200/.243/.246, .489 OPS, 0 HR, 3 BB, 19 K

As you probably already know, 2013 was Villalona’s first season back in the US since being tangled up in a murder investigation in the Dominican Republic. He began the year in San Jose, and was promoted to Richmond mid-season, swapping places with a struggling Ricky Oropesa. Villalona showed impressive power and very poor control in the Cal League (both not overly surprising), but to the surprise of many he continued to hit the long-ball at a steady clip after moving to the pitching-rich Eastern. He hit a combined 22 HR while striking out 136 times during the regular season, and was ticketed for the Arizona Fall League with Richmond teammates Andrew Susac, Cody Hall and Jarrett Parker. His AFL results weren’t all that promising.

Here’s my take on Angel V. We know the guy make contact at an awful rate. We know he can hit the ball a mile when bat meets ball. We know he missed some valuable development time, was protected on the 40-man roster last year, and will need to be evaluated very carefully by the Giants this year. Unless we see a major breakout from him in 2014 (whether it be in Richmond or Fresno), I have to think his time is dwindling with the organization. From what I saw in the AFL, Angel seemed to struggle more as the season progressed. It may very well be the case that he was wearing down after a long year, but generally you like to see a player get stronger as he becomes more familiar with a league. I just didn’t see that from Villalona. To be honest, it would seem to me that any decent pitcher could get him out pretty easily just by throwing pitches off the plate.

I’m certainly not ready to give up on this kid. The power he showed in AA was pretty impressive, even if it was nonexistent in the AFL. You don’t give up on that kind of pop. He’s also earned some pretty nice reviews for his athleticism and defense recently, which is nice to hear from a guy with that kind of size. But I’d like to see him develop a little strike-zone discipline (as I’m sure the org would as well). Until he does that, I don’t know how he can be a productive MLB hitter.

UPDATE: Right on cue, here’s a Bernie Pleskoff piece on Villalona. Again, high marks for Angel V’s defense and athleticism. Don’t tell Pleskoff the Giants don’t have hitting prospects!

They said it: “I’ve seen him as Wily Mo Pena since he was 18 and that’s how I still see him. He might get to the big leagues but he’ll make too many outs to stay there.” ~ Andrew Baggarly

Villalona video:

Angel  Villalona

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

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9 thoughts on “Cove Chatter 100: #21”

  1. Send this guy to an AL team for an some kind of outfield prospect. The Giants farm seems quite weak in this area. There’s no future for him in SF. I wonder if Villalona goes back to Richmond or if there’s a chance he goes to Fresno. Seems like Chris Dominguez may be playing 1B now that Brett Pill and Johnny Monell are out of town.

    1. I’m sure the organization will give him at least another season to see if he can’t improve his plate discipline, and I think they’d be a little reluctant to part with someone who they’ve invested so much time and money in. But I agree, it doesn’t appear that he has much of a future with the Giants. If we’re talking about sell-high opportunities, this might be the ideal time. He’s still at a very good age for “prospect status,” but If he goes to AAA and just tanks, his value might take a big hit too. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s assigned to either Fresno or Richmond this spring.

    2. The thing is his value is very depressed right now, both because of the murder charge as well as the time off he took dealing with that charge and then the visa issue, so you are not going to get a lot for him. The Giants are better off keeping him around and seeing what they can do with him.

      I think that the Giants know that they need to assess Villalona sooner than later, his option clock should be close to being gone now, and know that AA dampens stats (hence why Adrianza got promoted from AA to AAA despite poor numbers), so I expect him in AAA playing 1B. Dominguez I think will end up in RF, now with Peguero gone, Brown in CF and Kieschnick probably in LF, and probably Duvall playing 3B. If he has a AAA season like he had with San Jose, I think that he can build up enough trade value to get something good back.

      However, the Giants have been holding on to him – they could have just dumped him after the charges or when he was finally released or when he sued them to get re-instated or when his visa kept him from entering the U.S. – but they kept him after all those things happened, so that leads me to think that they are not going to trade him before they get to see him playing in the majors, at minimum in a September call-up. He claimed to want to play 3B still, so if he can get himself into good enough shape in his return, he could be a corner position utility player who brings power off the bench. Or be like Pill, playing 1B and LF. Especially if he’s hitting well in AAA.

  2. I like Villalona still and think that he could be something in the majors. Other teams have played guys who mainly hit homers and not do much else while striking out a ton. He’s supposedly plus defensively at 1B, being much more athletic than his body would indicate (which is like what all the reports said about Sandoval too before he came up).

    Plus, the Giants could always move Belt to LF, if Angel hits a ton and forces his way in.

    1. I have to admit that I’d like to see more of what Angel V has to offer. Will he ever make the adjustments needed in order to hit above the Mendoza line in the Show? He’s very young, and likely still has a long professional career ahead of him. But, the 40-man issues definitely make me wonder whether he’ll be a Giant for much of that time. With all the money they spent on him, and the effort they’ve gone through to keep him around, there’s no doubt they’ll see what they’ve got. But if he doesn’t stick, he’ll eventually have to clear waivers… and I just don’t see that happening. Thanks for the comment OGC.

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