March 13, 2011 - Texas League (TL) - Northwest Arkansas Naturals
SURPRISE, AZ - The Kansas City Royals on Saturday evening optioned center fielder Derrick Robinson and infielder Jeff Bianchi to the Naturals' roster.
Robinson, who is likely to assume his place atop the Naturals' lineup, led the Texas League in stolen bases in 2010, swiping 50 bases and batting .286 with two homers and 48 RBI in 127 games, his first experience at the Double-A level. The 23-year old resident of Archer, FL was a fourth-round selection by the Royals in the 2006 draft. He batted .364 (4-for-11) with two stolen bases in Cactus League action this spring.
Bianchi, who missed all of the 2010 season recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery, returns to Northwest Arkansas after posting stellar numbers in the second half of the 2009 season. The 24-year old batted .315 with five homers, 42 RBI's, and ten stolen bases in 68 games, winning the Texas League Player of the Week award twice and helping lead the Naturals to a North Division Championship. The Royals' second-round selection in 2005, Bianchi hit just .067 (1-for-15) in Cactus League action this spring.
In related transaction news from Royals' camp, three other former Naturals were optioned to Triple-A Omaha: former Texas League Triple Crown winner Clint Robinson, outfielder David Lough, and left-hander Everett Teaford, who led the Texas League in wins last season and was named as Naturals' Pitcher of the Year.
Left-handers Will Smith, Chris Dwyer, and John Lamb, who are not members of the Royals' 40-man roster, were re-assigned to minor league camp. All three are likely to be members of the Naturals' season-opening rotation.
The Royals also claimed left-hander Robert Fish off waivers from the New York Yankees. Fish is a hard-throwing left-hander who finished last season with the Arkansas Travelers and was selected from the Los Angeles Angels organization by the Yankees in December's Rule 5 Draft. Fish, the Angels' sixth-round pick in the 2006 Draft, was 5-5 with a 6.79 ERA in 49 relief outings in 2010, striking out 73 in 58 1/3 innings combined for the Travelers and Advanced Class-A Rancho Cucamonga. The Royals will have to keep Fish on their 25-man big league roster or offer him back to the Angels' organization.
Naturals' reliever Henry Barrera was placed on the 60-day disabled list to make room for Fish. Barrera has a right elbow sprain and has been sidelined all spring. A key member of the Naturals' bullpen down the stretch and into the Texas League Playoffs last September, the hard-throwing right-hander was 3-1 with a 1.80 ERA and one save in 16 outings for Northwest Arkansas.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark, located in Springdale. The 2011 season begins on Thursday, April 7th. Visit our website, nwanaturals.com, for information on season tickets and ticket plans.