Kansas City has been able to amass some pretty talented position players in recent years.... While Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Chris Lubanski and Luke Hochevar headline this category, one name that shouldn't be left out is shortstop Jeff Bianchi.Who's Jeff Bianchi, you ask? (Photo courtesy of Royals Corner.) He's a 2005 second-round pick (behind Alex Gordon) who's battled injuries but has otherwise been productive, batting over .400 as a pro. In 12 rookie ball games last summer, he hit .429 and won multiple honors, including the Topps Short-Season/Rookie All-Star award. An injury ended his year and got him booted from Baseball America's Top 10 Royals Prospects list -- which he was on in 2005 -- but his upside remains tremendous. Royals director of player development J.J. Picollo is on the record as saying, "He's an offensive guy, but he has defensive skills and he's got good instincts. He's also an above-average runner. He's really a Michael Young (!) type of player. That's the kind of guy we project him to be." Italics and parenthesized exclamation mark mine.
In other words, he's a guy who could hit the crap out of Mark Prior, as apparently every Royal did on Saturday. (The bleeding heart in me wants to see Prior do well for the well-intentioned though ultimately incompetent Cubs, but there's really not much hope when you throw 40 pitches and only twice does the opposing batter miss. Oh, and the fastball that barely registers in the "upper" 80s -- that's a bad sign. It's enough to make poor Chicago souls wistful.) Most importantly about Bianchi: he's the shortstop of the Royals' future, assuming Angel Berroa doesn't resuscitate his Neifi Perez-like career.
(My apologies if that comparison seems unnecessarily mean. I fully understand no one should ever be compared with Neifi unless he single-handedly ruins, to varying degrees, four franchises, draws the ire of all their fans, gets an index named after him that calculates how much he helps his team by not playing, and evokes the image of a Necromonger.)
Also of note in that MiLB story linked high above, Billy Butler says Alex Gordon is "going to be one of the best players in the game."
"He's probably the most talented guy I've played with or against," says Butler, who played with the likes of Brandon Wood (No. 8, right behind Evan Longoria) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (No. 36) on Team USA. "He has five tools. Now it's just a question of whether he uses them his whole career."
What, is Gordon predisposed to multiple sclerosis? Of course he's going to use those tools his whole career. Also, let's dispense with the modesty and call him by his rightful name -- Mr. God -- okay? His Holiness the Savior is acceptable as well.