Shortstop prospect Jonathan Villar has been invited to Astros Spring Training for the second straight year. Last year, Villar spent his age 21 season at AA Corpus Christi. But, in July, the season came to an abrupt end for Villar when he punched a door and broke a bone in his hand. The physical tools are there. The Astros want Villar to concentrate on improving his mental game this spring.
Fully recovered from the hand injury, Villar competed in his home country, The Dominican Republic, this winter. Playing in 24 games, often as a pinch-runner, Villar got ten hits in only 30 at-bats. He also stole six bases.
Listed as one of MLB’s top-100 prospects by Baseball America prior to the 2011 season, Villar’s stock has begun to slip a bit lately. Still, he continues to play ahead of the age curve and remains one of the organization’s top 20 prospects.
Once viewed as the shortstop of the future, Villar now has plenty of competition at the position. 2012 draft picks Carlos Correa and Nolan Fontana are nipping at his heels. Jiovanni Mier, a first round pick in 2009, is also showing signs of turning the corner.
Villar still has a lot going for him and the Astros added him to the 40-man roster in November. A switch-hitter, Villar has reached double digits in homeruns in each of the last two seasons. He has also topped 30 stolen bases for three straight years. The Astros will continue to be patient with him, considering he is such a high-ceiling prospect. Villar should spend most of 2013 at AAA. But, given the number of prospects at his position, it’s hard to say whether or not he has a long term future with the organization.