ERIC SONDHEIMER / ON HIGH SCHOOLS

Villanueva's journey has him back at Roosevelt

On Dec. 8, Villanueva returned to the Southland and the next day was told he had become a professional and needed to report to the Red Devils in February.

Pearson started doing his own research, calling agents, lawyers and the Dodgers to find out what had happened to his standout pitcher.

The Commissioner's Office learned of the growing controversy and directed Brunswick to investigate.

Mansur and the president of the Mexican baseball league, Plinio Escalante, were informed in a letter dated Feb. 1 that Villanueva's contract was not valid.

"Major League Rule 3(a)(2) states that high school students are not eligible to sign a professional baseball contract during any period in which the student is eligible to participate in high school athletics," according to the letter from Pat O'Conner, president and CEO of minor league baseball. "Because we have confirmed that Mr. Villanueva was eligible to participate in high school athletics, he was not eligible to enter a professional contract with the Diablos Rojos."

Reached last week on his cellphone, Mansur, speaking in Spanish, continued to insist that Villanueva was under contract with the Red Devils and expected him to show for the start of training camp last Sunday.

"If he doesn't show up, it's no problem," he said.

Brunswick said he is still reviewing if any action will be taken against the Red Devils.

What's clear is that Villanueva isn't going to be drafted by the Dodgers in June.

"This kid could throw lights out this year and I won't touch him," White said. "Just because of how it would look. I hope the kid does well. And hopefully the kid gets drafted. You want good for the kid."

Asked what he learned from his experience, Villanueva said, "Never sign a contract without knowing what it has on it."

Staff writer Kevin Baxter contributed to this story.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com
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