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03/04/07 1:00 PM ET
Minors report: Bianchi back on track
Royals prospect progressing well after shoulder surgery
By Alan Eskew / Special to MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- If Jeff Bianchi can remain healthy, director of player development J.J. Picollo believes he will advance rapidly in the Royals' organization. Bianchi, a second-round pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, hit .408 that summer in the Arizona Rookie League, but was limited to just 28 games because of a back injury. He hit .429 last year in Arizona, but played in only 12 games before needing shoulder surgery. "He is progressing well," Picollo said. "He is throwing from the shortstop position now. His rehab program has him ready toward the end of Spring Training. We'll see how he is holding up. We'll make a decision on Jeff come the end of spring on what is best for him. We would like for him to be able to play seven days in a row before we actually send him out to a full-season club. "We'll send him out when he is 100 percent and he can play every day. What we really want to do is, once we get him out of rehab and out with a club, just make sure he is healthy and he can stay out all year. We can make up some at-bats for him through the fall and the various leagues. He'll certainly be a guy to be in the mix to get some at-bats during the fall." Picollo said Bianchi could "potentially" begin the season in extended spring training, but would likely report to Class A Burlington in the Midwest League as soon as he is deemed healthy enough to play every day. "A lot of people in our organization feel that with his ability and maturity level that he could even go to High-A at this point," Picollo said. "But he's got 148 career at-bats. He has to kind of get his feet wet and then, hopefully, we'll get him up to that level before the end of the season." On the move: Right-hander Carlos Rosa opened some eyes in a 'B' game, pitching a scoreless inning against the Rangers. He struck out two, including Sammy Sosa. On the pine: Right-hander Erik Cordier, a second-round pick in 2004, is recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery and will not pitch before the fall instructional league, if then. He also missed the 2005 season with a knee injury. Names in the game: Andres Blanco collected three hits, all singles, in a Saturday game against the Rangers. He started at second base and moved to shortstop. They're No. 1: Billy Butler, a 2004 first-round pick out of Wolfson High School in Jacksonville, Fla., hit .571 in his first three games. Class of '06: Right-hander Daniel Best, who was a 14th-round pick out of Southern Mississippi, had labrum surgery last week, performed by Dr. James Andrews, and is out for the season. Best was 5-3 with a 2.92 ERA and two saves in 21 relief appearances last season with Idaho Falls. What they're saying: "Billy Butler continues to show he can handle the bat pretty good. He has got to work on his defense. He knows that. He will. But he has a really, really good idea of how to hit. That is for doggone sure. He has no panic. He really understands how to hit," -- Royals manager Buddy Bell
Alan Eskew is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.