It’s like a Sunday several years ago, when this news ran across the ESPN crawler: “Kobe Bryant arrested on felony sexual assault charges in Eagle, Colorado.” I just got this text from my buddy Carp. Instead of a celebratory comment about Frank Gore, I got this:
angel villalona was arrested in the DR today on suspicion of murder! Ah %#$#!
Indeed. Villalona killed a guy? Really? Nowadays when there’s news of a celebrity murdering somebody or being murdered, it’s almost always true. Not that Villalona was a celebrity to anybody besides followers of the Giants farm system, but he does look like a guy who probably tips back his fair share of 40 oz’s. So I checked.
Villalona either shot a guy, or he’s getting extorted Dominican-style like Juan Uribe, who faced murder charges that were later dropped back in 2006. Unfortunately for Villalona, he doesn’t have the same track record as Uribe. He just turned 19, and since he was given $2.1 million in 2006 as a 16-year-old, Villalona has balooned from a third baseman into a first baseman and sat out the second half of the season at Single-A San Jose this season due to a quad injury.
In other words, at least Uribe had his shit together enough to play some Major League ball for a while after moving away from the DR. Villalona might be getting framed in this case, but we know next to nothing about this guy besides that he’s got some power, the bill of his cap is super-straight and his conditioning so far has made Pablo Sandoval look like a triathlete.
Maybe Villalona’s the type of guy that would kill someone with vengeance in his heart, or maybe like one of the Giants’ great new relievers seemed all-too-willing to relay to Andy Baggarly, the DR is a crazy place to live — even crazier if you’re known to be a ballplayer with money.
Pitcher Waldis Joaquin lived with the same family that hosted Villalona in San Jose. Joaquin received the news via text message from Henry Sosa, another Giants prospect from the Dominican Republic.
“I don’t know what happened,” Joaquin said. “I have no idea.”
Joaquin, 22, said he owns a gun in the Dominican but that it never leaves his house. He said it’s not uncommon for arguments there to escalate into gunfire. Because Villalona often traveled with four or five other men, Joaquin said he might have been less likely to back down from an insult or a threat.
So hopefully this will all end the way Kobe’s case did: perhaps with lingering harm to the athlete’s reputation, but with the charges melting away over a period of several months. Yes, several months. Next year has officially been wasted for Villalona, meaning the Giants’ supposed offensive renaissance coming from the farm system has just received a major setback.
Or worse (much, much worse), Villalona will be found guilty of murdering 25-year-old Mario Felix de Jesus Velete, and we’ll never see him play baseball again.