Here Comes the Kila

With Rick Ankiel heading to the DL, the Kansas City Royals have enlisted the help of a 6’3″ 220-pound left-handed power hitting first baseman.  Don’t worry Royals fans, you didn’t bring Mike Jacobs back.  Instead, the organization finally reached into the minor leagues and called on slugger Kila Ka’aihue to add some pop to its lightweight lineup.

The Royals drafted the Hawaiian High Schooler in the 15th round all the way back in 2002 and have relegated him to minor league affiliates ever since.  During that time, Kila has put together a Nelson Cruz-like minor league resume, starting with a .304/.428/.497 20 HR, 90 RBI line in 130 games of A-ball in 2005.

More recently, Kila was named the AA Texas League player of the year in 2007 after going .314/.463/.624 and mashing 26 bombs in just 91 games in the league.  The same year, he would move up to AAA and tack on 11 more home runs to his season total in just 33 games with an almost identical .316/.439/.640 line to boot.  On the year, he hit 37 home runs, knocked in 100 runners, walked nearly twice as much as he struck out, and posted an ISO well above .300.

Surely that type of season will earn a player some run on a terrible club like the Royals, right?  Well, the team gave him 21 at bats at the end of that 2008 season and he held his own during the taste test, going .286/.375/.429 and enjoying his first big league homer, but that was it.

The next season, Kansas City once again left Kila off the big league club and instead opted to go with Mike Jacobs.  The result was .228/.297/.401 over the course of 128 games, good for a -.5 WAR from the designated hitter position.  Maybe the difference between the NL and AL is pretty minimal after all…

But back to the present and the Royals trying something that might actually work.  Kila got off to a tremendous start in AAA this year with 7 HR, 20 RBI, 19 R and a .304/.466/.620 line through the first 23 games and has finally been rewarded with a spot on the 25-man big league roster.

Kila’s average, like it was through his minor league career, will likely be a bit shaky in the big leagues.  However, that should be the least of Kansas City’s concerns as they currently rank seventh in the category.  What they should be concerned with is the amount of runs they have scored, which ranks in the bottom third of the league.  They’re second to last in walks and in the bottom half of slugging percentage, even with Jose Guillen’s overachieving start.  Kila will only help them immensely in both of these categories.

I’m not saying Kila is going to be the next Nelson Cruz or take the league by storm and vastly improve the Royals lineup, but there is no doubt in my mind that Kila should’ve been given a shot at the big league level years ago.  I’m excited to see what he will do with this opportunity, and I hope that the Royals give him the chance to play every day.  The team has nothing to lose, but one hell of a potential late bloomer to gain.

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4 Comments on “Here Comes the Kila”

  1. dougbies Says:

    Nice writeup. The Kila title made me think bad things before i wote it. I feel like any of us could better manage teams like KC/MYM. Its amazing the think some GM’s can consistently get such criticism yet still have jobs. Did you see the article on btb a few days back about KC using Soria in not so high leverage situations? Kind of ties into using your best reliever in the highest leverage situation, but found it a good read.

  2. Disco Says:

    I’m excited for him

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