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
(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)