- Full name Jonathan Rafael Villar
- Born 05/02/1991 in La Vega, Dominican Republic
- Profile Ht.: 6'0" / Wt.: 233 / Bats: S / Throws: R
- Debut 07/22/2013
Organization Prospect Rankings
The fourth ex-Phillies farmhand among the Astros' top dozen prospects, Villar arrived in the 2010 Roy Oswalt trade along with Anthony Gose (who was traded immediately for Brett Wallace) and J.A. Happ. Villar was in the midst of a breakthrough 2012 season when he punched a door between innings of a July game and broke his right hand, ending his season. If he'd stayed healthy, he likely would have made his big league debut filling in for an injured Jed Lowrie. Villar was healthy enough to return to the field in the Dominican Winter League, though he served mostly as a pinch-runner. Villar is well-suited for that role because he's a plus runner and aggressive player with plenty of tools. His arm also rates as above-average, and he has plenty of range at shortstop. He continues to make errors in bunches, with 24 in 85 Double-A games, and scouts believe he hasn't slowed the game down yet. He plays frenetically on defense and doesn't trust his tools. The switch-hitting Villar hit 11 homers in his interrupted season, with most of his power improvement coming from the left side. Aggressive to a fault, he strikes out too often because he chases breaking balls and expands his zone. That unpolished approach and recklessness on both sides of the ball limits his ceiling, though he still has the tools to be a quality regular. Added to the 40-man roster, Villar figures to advance to Triple-A and see some big league time in 2013.
Villar signed for a $105,000 in 2008 with the Phillies, who sent him to the Astros in the Roy Oswalt trade two year later. Teaming with steadier but less toolsy Jose Altuve at high Class A Lancaster and Corpus Christi, Villar had an uneven 2011 season, striking out a system-high 156 times and committing 36 errors. Villar's tools are loud, as he earns 60 and 70 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale for his speed, arm and defensive ability at shortstop. He's flashy, sometimes to a fault, on defense. Some scouts thought he coasted during the regular season, leading to careless errors and empty at-bats, but Villar competed much better in instructional league. He's a switch-hitter with solid gap power, particularly from the right side, but he won't fully tap into it until he stops chasing pitches out of the strike zone. He's more of a slasher while hitting lefthanded. An aggressive basestealer, he led Houston farmhands with 34 thefts in 46 tries in 2011. Villar may be the toolsiest shortstop in the minors other than the Rangers' Jurickson Profar, who's much more polished. The Astros hope to let Villar catch his breath at bit with a return to Double-A, but he could play his way into the major league mix in 2012.
Signed out of the Dominican Republic for $105,000, Villar began blowing up as a prospect when he made his full-season debut last year. The Astros targeted him in the Roy Oswalt trade, securing him as the key piece after general manager Ed Wade saw him play in person. They immediately pushed Villar to high Class A Lancaster after acquiring him. He has impressive raw tools, with his speed, arm and defense all rating ahead of his bat at this point. That's not a huge shock considering he has plus-plus speed and arm strength, and some scouts think his shortstop play will be just as good once he develops. He has excellent range, especially to his left. The game still gets too quick for him at times, which contributed to his 56 errors in 130 games last year. Villar is overly aggressive at the plate, and his swing (especially from the left side) can get long. He has a hitch in his lefthanded stroke and will have to shorten up to make more consistent contact. He doesn't have much power, though it's not an important part of his game. He needs to polish his skills, but Villar has huge upside as a switch-hitting, top-of-the-order disruptor and potential Gold Glove shortstop. With 2009 first-round pick Jio Mier pushing him from behind, he could spend 2011 in Double-A.
Villan has as much upside as any Phillies infield prospect. Signed for $105,000 in 2008, he has plus tools across the board except for power. He earned a promotion to the short-season New York-Penn League in his first season in the United States, showing impressive polish. While he has a plus arm suited for shortstop, Villan may end up at second base as he continues to fill out. He might have enough bat for the move. A natural righthander, he's now better from the left side and has solid gap power, though he'll probably never be a home run threat. Villan has a willingness to take walks but must make more contact. He takes a big hack at the plate but is a plus runner once under way. He's also a smart, aggressive basestealer for his age and experience level. His excellent hands work well at the plate and in the field. He has solid range at shortstop. The Phillies will see if Villan can handle low Class A in 2010.
Minor League Top Prospects
A slick, flashy fielder who entered the season with questions about his bat, Villar answered the skeptics with a solid season at Oklahoma City and earned a promotion to Houston. Villar possesses tremendous speed and has been successful swiping bases at all levels, carrying that into the majors. Coming off a broken hand that ended his 2012 season, Villar showed improved power, which managers attributed to improved plate discipline. Villar still needs to control the zone more and tone down his aggressiveness, which leads to strikeouts and occasional bouts of erratic play, particularly defensively, where he can make spectacular plays with his arm and range and botch routine ones. But his walk rate has improved and he began driving the ball with improved authority.
Villar was the key player for the Astros in the deal that sent Roy Oswalt to the Phillies in July. Though he made 42 errors in 100 games with Lakewood before the trade, that did little to harm his reputation at shortstop. He has incredible range, soft hands, plus arm strength and a knack for knowing where the ball is going before it's put in play. The concern regarding Villar comes at the plate. A natural righthanded hitter who has shown more pop from the left side since becoming a switch-hitter, he needs to tone down his approach and focus on getting on base. Once he does, he can make use of his above-average speed and aggressive instincts. "I saw him in the Dominican a few years ago and he has really improved while adding strength to his body," Lexington manager Rodney Linares said. "He moves well with excellent range. I think he'll hit as he learns to play the game."
Villar was cruising along in the low Class A South Atlantic League when the Phillies dealt him to the Astros for Roy Oswalt. Houston shipped him up a level to Lancaster, where he showed more potential than production. A switch-hitter, Villar has quick hands but a long swing and overly aggressive approach. He doesn't have a lot of power, and he'd be better off working to get on base and using his plus speed to create havoc. He's a slick fielder with range to both sides and plenty of arm strength, though one scout described him as a bit of a hot dog, which helps explain why he committed 56 errors in 138 games between two levels. He's also a plus-plus runner.
After including Jason Donald in the Cliff Lee trade with the Indians this summer, the Phillies may have a similar player in the making in Villar. Signed for $105,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2008, Villar is a line-drive hitter with some gap power. He has a mature frame for an 18-year-old, playing at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds. Villar is an average runner out of the batter's box and better underway, and his instincts give him the ability to steal a few bases. He swiped six in his first six games after a promotion to the New York-Penn League. He has solid range, soft hands and a strong arm at shortstop.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Texas League in 2012
- Rated Best Baserunner in the Texas League in 2012
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Houston Astros in 2012
- Rated Best Defensive Infielder in the Houston Astros in 2012
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Houston Astros in 2011
- Rated Best Defensive Infielder in the Houston Astros in 2011
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the South Atlantic League in 2010
Background: Villar signed for a $105,000 bonus in 2008 with the Phillies, who sent him to the Astros in the Roy Oswalt trade two years later. Teaming with steadier but less toolsy Jose Altuve at high Class A Lancaster and Corpus Christi, Villar had an uneven 2011 season, striking out a system-high 156 times and committing 36 errors. Scouting Report: Villar's tools are loud, as he earns 60 and 70 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale for his speed, arm and defensive ability at shortstop. He's flashy, sometimes to a fault, on defense. Some scouts thought he coasted during the regular season, leading to careless errors and empty at-bats, but Villar competed much better in instructional league. He's a switch-hitter with solid gap power, particularly from the right side, but won't fully tap into it until he stops chasing pitches out of the strike zone. He's more of a slasher while hitting lefthanded. An aggressive basestealer, he led Houston farmhands with 34 thefts in 46 tries in 2011. The Future: Villar may be the toolsiest shortstop in the minors other than the Rangers' Jurickson Profar, who's much more polished. The Astros hope to let Villar catch his breath at bit with a return to Double-A, but he could play his way into the major league mix in 2012.