Cleared of murder charges, Angel Villalona added to Giants’ to 40-man roster

17 Comments

In case you didn’t notice, yesterday was the day teams set their 40-man rosters in advance of December’s Rule 5 Draft. Most of the moves are expected and usually include many guys you’ve never heard of, but occasionally a surprise is thrown our way. For instance, the Giants have added former top prospect Angel Villalona to their 40-man roster.

Villalona, who received a club-record $2.1 million signing bonus as a 16-year-old in 2006, hasn’t played professionally in over two years after being accused of killing a 25-year-old man in a Dominican Republic nightclub in September of 2009. Charges were eventually dismissed as part of a $139,000 settlement with the victim’s family, but Villalona sued the Giants for $5 million earlier this summer claiming they violated the terms of his contract following his arrest. After the two sides settled the lawsuit in September, the Giants were prepared to welcome him back in the organization.

Villalona is currently at the Giants’ complex in the Dominican working his way into baseball shape, but he isn’t completely out of the woods yet. While Giants president of baseball operations Bobby Evans told Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News that he was removed from the restricted list about a month ago, he is still awaiting a work visa to return to the United States.

The Giants apparently feel that Villalona is worth protecting, but his stock was dropping as a prospect even before the murder charges. He had an ugly 235/42 K/BB ratio over his first three professional seasons and his lack of conditioning led many to believe he was best suited as a designated hitter in the long run. He’s still only 21 years old, so we can’t call him a lost cause, but he has a long way to go before being taken seriously as a prospect again.

Rays sign lefty Ryan Merritt to a minor league deal

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Tampa Bay Rays have signed lefty swingman Ryan Merritt to a minor league contract. Nah, it’s not a big signing but we’ll take anything today.

Merritt, who has spent his entire career in the Indians organization, spent the entire 2018 season at Triple-A Columbus. It wasn’t a bad year for him — he posted a 3.79 ERA and a 52/2 K/BB ratio in 13 starts and two relief appearances covering 71.1 innings — but the Tribe just couldn’t find a role for him at the big league level. He has shown in the past, however, that he can hack it in the bigs, having posted a 1.71 ERA in 31.2 innings with the Indians between 2016-2017.

His thing is that he simply doesn’t strike guys out at anything approaching a typical clip for a big leaguer: 3.7 per nine innings in his small sample of major league outings and 6.3 Ks per nine innings in the minors. Which, while it may not prevent him from having success at the big league level, is likely a reason for the limited number of chances he’s been given.

The Rays are probably the best place he could go, frankly. They’ve shown themselves willing to utilize guys in unique ways and are more likely than most teams to find places to spot a lefty control specialist who has shown he can both start and come out of the pen.