Villar shows promise in first big league stint

Villar shows promise in first big league stint

ARLINGTON -- It's been an up-and-down rookie debut for shortstop Jonathan Villar, who's shown flashes of excellence with his speed while experiencing the kinds of growing pains on the field the Astros can only hope disappear next year.

Villar entered Wednesday hitting .254 with a .330 on-base percentage and 17 stolen bases in only 54 games, but he had also made a whopping 14 errors and ran into several outs on the bases because of some over-aggressiveness. He then committed his 15th error -- tied with third baseman Matt Dominguez for the team lead -- in the third inning against the Rangers.

"This guy has a chance to be an elite player," manager Bo Porter said. "The mistakes, the overall aggression, I think all of that stuff will basically work itself out as he gets more and more comfortable being in the big leagues and playing every day and understands the value of an out, the value of what it is he brings to the ballclub. I don't worry about Jonathan Villar. He's going to be fine."

Villar will likely be the Opening Day starter at shortstop next year while the Astros await the arrival of 2012 No. 1 overall Draft pick Carlos Correa, who is probably at least two years away from breaking through at the Major League level.

For now, the Astros are going to give the switch-hitting Villar a long look.

"I think when you fast-forward to three years from now, there's probably going to be another young player that comes along, and Jonathan Villar is going to be able to help that young player because of the progression of which he's went through," Porter said.

Villar didn't join the Astros until July 22, so the Astros really haven't had a good look at him yet in a Major League uniform. He will play winter ball this year.

"I wish we could have gotten him here a little bit earlier," he said. "I think it was valuable for him to get the amount of time in which he was able to get, so he can go into next year and knows what it is to play in the big leagues every day and he can prove himself."

Brian McTaggart is reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.