He may be no Angel
This might just be the most improbable event in an improbable season for the San Francisco Giants.
Angel Villalona, a 19-year-old slugging catcher-turned-first baseman considered the hottest prospect in the Giants’ minor league system as recently as six months ago, was charged today with murder in his native Dominican Republic.
Authorities in Santo Domingo allege that Villalona shot and killed 25-year-old Mario Felix de Jesus Velete in a bar last weekend. Villalona is pleading not guilty.
Villalona was the biggest bonus baby in Giants’ history when he signed with San Francisco in 2006. His $2.1 million signing bonanza outstripped the first-contract cash paid to such stellar talents as Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, who currently form two-fifths of the Giants’ starting rotation.
After some initial success in the low minors (17 home runs, 64 runs batted in, and 29 doubles in the South Atlantic League last summer), Villalona’s progress slowed this year at Class-A San Jose, hitting an unremarkable .267 with nine home runs before a season-ending leg injury.
If convicted of murder in the D.R., Villalona faces a minimum sentence of 20 years. The Giants face a loss of $2.1 million and a bucketful of potential.