To the delight of Kansas City fans — and people everywhere who are sick of watching the Royals not score runs — Kila Ka'aihue(notes) has been recalled from Triple-A Omaha. In 103 plate appearances this season, Ka'aihue has hit .304/.466/.620 with seven homers and 20 RBIs. He's walked more often than he's struck out, per his usual, and he's been equally productive against lefties and righties.
Kila first hit the fantasy radar in 2008, when he was named the Texas League Player of the Year. He played 124 games across two minor league levels that season, delivering ridiculous numbers: 37 HR, 100 RBI, 104 BB, 67 K, .314 AVG, .456 OBP, .628 SLG. His rate-stats dipped the following year at Omaha, and he exchanged a few home runs for doubles, but he appears to have returned to dominance in 2010.
On Tuesday, when Rick Ankiel(notes) landed on the disabled list with a quad strain, a path was finally cleared for the 26-year-old Ka'aihue … sort of. No one seems to know where he's actually going to play, or how much he'll play.
The two lineup spots Kila can easy handle are first base and DH, which happen to be occupied at the moment by Billy Butler(notes) and Jose Guillen(notes). Butler is batting .321, and he led his team in average, OBP and slugging percentage last year; Guillen currently leads the Royals in home runs, RBIs and OPS, and he tops all KC position players in salary ($12 million).
Royals manager Trey Hillman can play Guillen in right field, but the man isn't exactly a defensive wizard. Whatever the team decides to do, there will be trade-offs.
Here's Hillman discussing the Ka'aihue dilemma, via the Kansas City Star:
"We’ll see where it fits day to day," manager Trey Hillman said. "It depends on what I do with the outfield. It depends on how I use Willie [Bloomquist]. It depends on how productive Mitch [Maier] is.
"Right now, you can view it as an extra bat off the bench. He might play some first base. If he plays first base, Billy [Butler] might do some DHing. That would necessitate putting José [Guillen] back in right. We'll mix and match."
The Royals would surely love to deal Guillen, but if you've ever attempted to trade him in a fantasy league (no easy task), then you can appreciate how difficult it might be to unload him when there's an eight-figure pricetag attached.
For now, while we wait for confirmation that Mitch Maier(notes) can't be productive, Kila is officially "an extra bat off the bench." In a mixed league of respectable depth, I'd still add him, depending on my category and position needs. He's an obvious pick-up in formats that use OBP. Ka'aihue seems to have mastered the minor leagues; there's power upside here, if Hillman decides he's interested.
Photo via AP Images