Chadd Blasko Released

The Cubs had waited over two years for right-hander Chadd Blasko to regain his health and return from lingering shoulder problems. When he did, they released him.

Blasko is the second former first-round Cubs draft pick to be released by the organization this week, joining right-hander Bobby Brownlie, who was taken a few spots ahead of the Purdue alumnus in the opening round of the 2002 draft. Brownlie got his pink slip on Tuesday of this week.

Statistically the best pitcher in the Florida State League in his professional debut season with Class-A Daytona in 2003, Blasko won 10 games and posted a 1.98 ERA (best in his league for any starter) in 24 starts spanning 136 1/3 innings. He was a unanimous Florida State League All-Star.

A year later, things began to slowly unravel as Blasko started to experience shoulder pains and would eventually undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum. He missed the entire 2005 season while rehabbing.

Last spring, Blasko's health appeared to be on the up and up. He saw action in select Minor League Spring Training games and related to Inside The Ivy earlier this month that his velocity was back in the low to mid 90s. The Cubs confirmed he was close to leaving Extended Spring Training in Arizona en route to a full- or short-season affiliate last year before suffering a setback.

As such, Blasko would miss the entire 2006 season, but was able to leave Arizona at the end of last season with a clean bill of health. He came into Spring Training 2007 with high expectations and said that his shoulder had never felt better than when he left Arizona.

On the surface, the timing of Blasko's exit from the Cubs' system may seem odd. Having waited for almost three years on Blasko to return to action, the Cubs released the 26-year-old just prior to setting their official minor league rosters for the upcoming season on Friday.

"Chadd is healthy and we think the world of him, but this has been a very competitive camp," Cubs Player Development Director Oneri Fleita explained. "He's a true pro and that's what made our decision so tough."

Official rosters for all four of the Cubs full-season minor league affiliates have been sent to those clubs and will be announced in the coming days.

Cubs prospects have a full day of intrasquad meetings planned for Saturday at Fitch Park in Mesa and will go head-to-head with prospects from the Angels farm system on Sunday to close out Minor League Spring Training.

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