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KC's future infield making strides
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11/12/2004 1:00 PM ET
KC's future infield making strides
Teahan and Murphy working on game in AFL
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Donnie Murphy made some outstanding defensive plays this season in the AFL. (Chris Shuttlesworth/
KANSAS CITY -- In a perfect world, the Royals would have a second baseman with Donnie Murphy's defensive skills and Ruben Gotay's bat.

But since it's not a perfect world, the Royals plan to have both second-base prospects in the minor leagues at the start of next season. Veteran Tony Graffanino, coming back from season-ending surgery on his right shoulder, is penciled in as the Major League second baseman.

Murphy, playing for the first-place Phoenix Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League, had an average of only .211 (16-for-76) through 21 games.

"Defensively, he's above the Major League average but offensively, he's still working on things," Royals general manager Allard Baird said.

Murphy needs to fine-tune his plate discipline, Baird said. His flair for defense, though, was apparent in a late-season trial with the Royals. In one game, he set a club record by participating in five double plays. Not even Gold Glover Frank White ever accomplished that.

While with the Royals, Murphy batted .185 (5-for-27) and struck out seven times. In the AFL, he has struck out in 22 of his 76 at-bats.

Murphy jumped to the Royals from Single-A Wilmington, where he had a .256 average after struggling in the second half when pitchers fed him a diet of offspeed pitches.

Gotay, on the other hand, hit .290 for Double-A Wichita and .270 in his 44-game stint with the Royals. However, his fielding needs improvement in terms of range and consistency.

Almost certainly one of the two will emerge as the Royals' second baseman of the future.

The third baseman of the future, Mark Teahen, saw his average slip below the .400 mark in the AFL. Through Wednesday, he was hitting .393 (35-for-89) and smacked his second homer, a two-run shot, in the Desert Dogs' 8-6 loss on Tuesday to the Peoria Saguaros. In 25 games, Teahen had 21 RBIs and an on-base percentage of .457.

On Thursday, the Royals signed minor league free agent Chris Truby to play third base until Teahen is ready to be an everyday player.

The latest statistics on Royals pitchers with Phoenix: Brian Bass, 0-1, 2.45 ERA in six games; Billy Keppinger, 4-0, 3.15 ERA in 15 games; Mike Stodolka, 1-2, 2.42 ERA in six games; Danny Tamayo, 0-3, 12.46 ERA in six games; Wes Wilkerson, 0-0, 1.15 ERA in 12 games.

In the Dominican Winter League, right-hander Santiago Ramirez was 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA in eight relief outings for Aguilas. Ramirez recently signed with the Royals after seven years in the Houston Astros' organization.

Catcher Alberto Castillo, who has re-signed with the Royals, was having a rough go with Aguilas. His average was just .147 (5-for-34).

Outfielder Wilkin Ruan, signed from the Los Angeles Dodgers, was hitting .231 and pitcher Roberto Giron, picked up from the Milwaukee Brewers, was 0-0 with a 4.00 ERA in six games for Estrellas.

Gigantes pitcher Jorge Vasquez had a 1-1 record with a 2.25 ERA and seven strikeouts in four innings.

In six games for Azucareros, Ambiorix Burgos, 1-0 with a 0.93 ERA, had 10 strikeouts and seven walks in 9 2/3 innings. Burgos, a 19-year-old right-hander, was 7-11 this year for Single-A Burlington and piled up 172 strikeouts (75 walks) in 27 games and 133 2/3 innings.

Shortstop Andres Blanco, injured in a Venezuelan Winter League game, visited Kansas City for a checkup on his rib cage.

"He has a strained oblique muscle but nothing is torn in there and that's the good thing," Baird said.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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