On Sunday, the Brewers sent Taylor Green down to Nashville to get consistent playing time. Tuesday, they confirmed the addition of another young infielder to take his place on the roster. Jeff Bianchi, who was claimed off waivers from the Chicago Cubs (who claimed him off waivers from Kansas City), will join the team when it reconvenes after the All-Star break.
Word of Bianchi’s promotion hit the web earlier Tuesday afternoon, via the Lancaster-Lebanon League News (h/t goes to Jim Goulart, who’s always on top of minor league news). Ron Roenicke confirmed the news to media following the All-Star Game.
Bianchi, a shortstop, was hitting .305/.361/.368 in Nashville after starting the year with a .351/.398/.403 line in Huntsville. He was a second-round pick of the Royals out of high school in 2005, but a slew of injuries slowed his progress as a prospect. Once rated the 5th-best prospect in the Royals system by Baseball America, Bianchi is finally in the majors — something that seemed unlikely after he had to come back from both a torn labrum in 2006 and Tommy John surgery, which cost him the entire 2010 season.
Defensively, Bianchi has the reputation of being solid-yet-unspectactular with the glove. The shoulder and arm injuries have taken a toll on his arm strength, but in terms of range at short he’s still fine. Offensively, he’s never shown a great ability to walk — the 7.9% BB% he’s carrying at Nashville this year would be the highest since the 8.2% walk rate he posted at High-A in 2009. He won’t hit for much power, either, if any at all — a .368 SLG in the PCL certainly won’t have anyone dreaming big.
Still, Bianchi has hit for solid average at just about every level he’s seen, and the Brewers figure to use him as a bat off the bench, at least to start. Neither Cody Ransom nor Cesar Izturis should be too hard to leap over on the depth chart should Bianchi get off to a good start in the major leagues. As Green showed, though, it’s extremely hard for an inexperienced player to get something going with the bat without consistent playing time.
If the Brewers slip out of contention, perhaps Bianchi could get more time as a starter. Shortstop is still an open position for 2013, and the team might as well see what they have in him.