For as long as La Crosse Loggers third baseman David Villar can remember, baseball has been his life.
Shortly after he was able to stand, then walk, he was ripping home runs into his neighbor’s yard off the pitching arm of his mom during backyard games. Ever since then, he was hooked on the game. To be fair, there was a time in middle school when he played football, but that conflicted with his baseball schedule so he quickly scratched that off the list.
For Villar, it’s simple, life is baseball and baseball is life.
“I have been playing baseball since I was 2 ½ half years old,” Villar said. “It’s been a long journey. I would have my mom toss me some Whiffle balls and I would keep hitting balls into the neighbor’s yard. They said, ‘Hey let’s put him in tee-ball,’ and ever since then I have loved the game.”
That passion and dedication is why the sophomore from South Florida is considered one of the top prospects in the Northwoods League. But that wasn’t always the case. Villar was a standout prep player who was named a preseason All-American by Under Armour before being named all-county by the Florida Sun Sentinel and the Miami Herald after he hit .324 with seven home runs during his senior season in high school.
Despite those gaudy numbers, he went undrafted after he graduated from high school. That, however, was a wakeup call of sorts as Villar would be the first to tell you that his game needed more work.
“I don’t think I was a high-caliber out of high school,” Villar said. “I still had flaws in my game that I needed to work on.”
As the old saying goes, “One man’s misfortune is another’s gain,” and in this case it was the University of South Florida that ended up being the winner. Villar has started since the moment he walked on campus. This past spring, he started 60 games at third base after starting 54 games as a true freshman.
“Going into my freshman year I had to work hard because you are never guaranteed a spot in college,” said Villar, who hit .294 for the Bulls this spring. “I have been fortunate to play the last two years, almost every game. I just continue to try and make my game better and just increase my skills for the next year.”
Being draft-eligible again next summer, Villar has the draft in the back of his mind, but right now he is hoping for a healthy summer.
Last summer, Villar played for the Danbury Westerners in the New England Collegiate Baseball League where he played through a separated shoulder and a broken jaw that was suffered when he took a line drive to the face while playing third base. He still managed to hit .276 with a team-leading seven home runs in 27 games. That is part of the reason Villar has had no problem adjusting to the wood bats in the Northwoods League. Entering Monday night’s game against the Bismarck Larks, Villar led the Loggers with a .377 batting average while also leading the team in hits (23) despite just playing in 14 games.
“I think it’s the last two years of experience with college seasons and a summer underneath my belt,” Villar said. “I don’t want to give anything away, but I think the biggest thing for me it’s just sticking with my approach and having fun.”
Villar has entrenched himself into the No. 3 hole in the batting order as well as being the every day third basemen for the Loggers.
“David Villar, man he is a big-time player, he’s a big-time hitter,” Logger manager Brian Lewis said. “He’s doing exactly what we thought he would do. He’s a big bat right there in the three hole and he does a great job there.”
Villar has impressed coaches and the fans, but more importantly is healthy and having fun.
“It’s been fun, it’s a good transition from college baseball,” Villar said. “I have been welcomed by the fans, by the coaches making it pretty seamless.”