Results tagged ‘ Kila Ka'aihue ’

The Future: KC's Top Prospects


2008 Futures Night.JPGBaseball America
highlighted the Royals today as they continue their team-by-team summaries of top prospects. Seven pitchers and three position players make up KC’s Top 10.  Five of the players were honored at the 2008 Futures Night (above). The future, both near and long-term, appears extremely bright.

New to the Top 10 are 2008 draft picks Eric Hosmer, Mike Montgomery, and Tim Melville, as well as right-handed pitcher Danny Gutierrez and slugging first baseman Kila Ka’aihue.

We’ve compiled a few notes on each prospect. ATH had the chance to speak about the rankings with Scott Sharp, Kansas City’s Director of Minor League Operations. We’ve included his observations for some analysis you won’t get anywhere else.


Moustakas.jpg1. Mike Moustakas, 3B

The power-hitting lefty (pictured at left) recovered from a slow start to lead the Midwest League with 22 home runs in 2008 as a 19-year old.  Now 20, “Moose” became the first teenager to lead the Midwest League in homers since 1982.

Sharp note: “He has great power and ability with the bat. He’ll likely start at Wilmington.”

2. Eric Hosmer, 1B

KC’s first-round selection in 2008 makes his BA debut at #2. The 19-year old also projects as the Best Hitter for Average. Hosmer spent the fall in the Arizona Instructional League.

Sharp note: “Similar to Mike, he can hit and has power. He played in three games last year so we want to see what he does in spring training before assigning him.”

3. Dan Cortes, RHP

Cortes.JPGCortes, acquired from the White Sox in the Mike MacDougal trade, continued to shine in 2008, becoming a regular season and postseason Texas League All-Star. Still just 21, he has been ironing out some issues in the Arizona Fall League, including trying to keep the ball down in the zone more often.

Sharp note: “He met every expectation last year. He will probably start in Double-A, but could begin in Triple-A, depending on how the Omaha roster shakes out.”

4. Mike Montgomery, LHP

Montgomery, a supplemental pick in 2008, displayed great stuff as he held Arizona League opponents to a 1.69 ERA over 42.2 IP. The Royals plan to build the 19-year old’s innings slowly, as they did last year with Danny Duffy (see below).

Sharp note: “He’s a lefty with a good curveball. We’d like to see him in a full-season league. Most likely, he will start later in the year as health is paramount with our young pitchers.”

5. Tim Melville, RHP

The 2008 fourth-round selection checks in at #5. Melville, who has yet to pitch in a game as a pro, spent the fall in the Arizona Instructional League and is 19 years old as well.

Sharp note: “He’ll follow a similar path as Montgomery, though it will likely be in a short-season league. It would be unfair for him to start in a full-season league (since he didn’t appear in 2008).”

6. Danny Duffy, LHP

Duffy, a May addition to the Burlington Bees, went 6-1 with a 0.99 ERA over his last 11 starts to earn Burlington Pitcher of the Year honors. He won’t turn 20 until December 21.

Sharp note: “He proved himself at Burlington and will likely start at Wilmington. He has good mound presence and poise and can display three average Major League pitches.”

7. Danny Gutierrez, RHP

Gutierrez, 21, has risen to the top 10 after being selected in the 33rd round out of high school in 2005. BA ranks him as having the best curveball and best control among Royals farmhands.

Sharp note: “He showcases a power fastball and curveball. Danny is a good competitor who should start at Wilmington.”

8. Carlos Rosa, RHP

Rosa made his Major League debut in 2008 before finishing the year on the D.L. with a right elbow strain. The recent trades of Leo Nunez and Ramon Ramirez have left a gap in the K.C. bullpen. General Manager Dayton Moore mentioned the 24-year old as a candidate to fill one of those spots.

Sharp note: “Carlos will be in Major League camp but could begin the year at Triple-A. He’s been working on a change up.”

Kila_Home_Run.jpg9. Kila Ka’aihue, 1B

Ka’aihue’s meteoric rise through the farm system didn’t go unnoticed by Baseball America. Ka’aihue, 24, spent just a month in Omaha in 2008. He will likely start 2009 there as the Royals have several players battling for time at first base.

Sharp note: “He will likely start at Triple-A, but will be given every opportunity in Spring Training. He has power at his disposal but is also a good first baseman.”

10. Blake Wood, RHP

Wood.JPGKC’s third-round pick in 2006 sits at #10 after being ranked #4 prior to 2008. This is mostly a sign of the Royals ever-increasing strength in the system. The 23-year old Wood split 2008 between high-A Wilmington and Double-A Northwest Arkansas.

Sharp note: “Blake has a power arm and a power curve. We see him starting at Double-A. He needs to get back to the way he started there.”

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Trey Hillman: Season One

Thumbnail image for 9-18 Trey 3.jpg
 A Major League manager has duties that extend beyond what happens on the field, in the dugout and in the clubhouse. One major part of the job is to speak with the media on a daily basis. ATH estimates that Trey Hillman has had over 400 media sessions during his first season with the Royals. That’s two a day for nearly all of the 162 regular season games, plus spring training. Questioners come and go during the season, but it’s usually the same core contingent. Manager Hillman now knows many of these people very well. Today, he met with them one final time to discuss the 2008 Royals and what he sees going into 2009. Here’s a snippet of what he had to say:

Overall impression of 2008: Trey mentioned that the team made considerable progress as they finished 13.0 games behind the division leader after being 27.0 games back in 2007.


Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 6-17 Davies.jpgOn pitching:
Hillman’s opening remarks included emphasis on Zack Greinke’s strong season. He later touched on Greinke’s strong preparation during the season. The emergence of Kyle Davies (right) was a key point that Hillman drove home. He said that Davies worked with Bob McClure and really improved his mental approach to each and every start down the stretch.

Differences between Japan and the U.S.: Hillman did not see “earth shattering” differences between the managing environments. He did note that Japanese teams have only one minor league club, so players have a little more urgency to prove themselves.


Thumbnail image for 9-21 Kila 3.jpgThe September charge:
The Royals finished a MLB best 18-8. Hillman noted that the strong finish left him with some nice memories to hang on to. He was impressed with the high character and intense work ethic of Kila Ka’aihue and Ryan Shealy. Hillman described the emotion that Devon Lowery brought to his first big league appearance. Manager Hillman will be speaking to the Royals’ instructional league players in Arizona on Wednesday morning. The “never be content” attitude of Ka’aihue, Shealy, and Lowery figures to be a central theme of his speech.

Changes in approach for 2009: Hillman spent much of the 2007-08 offseason getting to know the players on his roster. Now that relationships have been made, he wants to focus on other areas. He believes that any manager should strive to get better each season. One of his goals is to manage people better.

How the Royals can improve in 2009: When a media member asked if the Royals needed another big bat in the offense, Hillman contended that the run differential could be narrowed more by improvements on the mound. He said that the Royals will look for ways to add runs, but sometimes it is easier to improve from a pitching standpoint.

Other notes: Hillman will be studying an external hard drive filled with video of potential free agents. He has a ‘wish list’ of free agents, but he will leave any negotiating to Dayton Moore and his baseball operations staff. Hillman knows that the health of his players will go a long way toward a successful 2009. He has been working with the Royals training and conditioning staff for a few months on a ‘check and balance’ system for individual health and workouts this off season.

Thumbnail image for 8-27 Greinke.jpgRoyals Player/Pitcher of the Month: The September winners are Ryan Shealy and Zack Greinke. As we mentioned yesterday on ATH, Shealy led the Royals with 7 home runs, 20 RBI, and a .603 slugging percentage. This is his first Player of the Month award. Greinke went 4-1 with a 2.18 ERA, which placed sixth in the American League. The right-hander did not allow a run over his final 2 starts. This is Zack’s second monthly honor in 2008 (also April) and third of his career (September 2004).

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The Final Home Game of 2008.


9-21 Kila 3.jpgLast night had no shortage of memorable moments and team photographer Chirs Vleisides was there to capture it. Among the most special was Kila Ka’aihue’s first Major League home run off Sox starter Gavin Floyd, complete with a curtain call made to a standing ovation from the almost capacity crowd.

The young slugger got a bit of a personal surprise with his September call-up, having to be added to the 40-man roster after hitting a combined 37 home runs in the minors this season. With 26 at Double-A Northwest Arkansas and another 11 in just a month at Triple-A Omaha, Ka’aihue had the fourth highest total in all levels of the minor leagues. He was named Texas League Player of
9-21 Kila.jpgthe Year, despite playing the final month of the season in the Pacific Coast League.

Ka’aihue was so dominant at Double-A he finished tied for the lead in home runs even though he played in 37 fewer games than his co-homer champ Arkansas’ Corey Smith. His 80 walks fell three short of the leader who played in 136 games compared to Ka’aihue’s 91 at Double-A. He coupled his high walk rate with a low strikeout rate. The Hawaiian struck out just 40 times in 287 at-bats in the Texas League. He had a .314 average and a .463 on-base percentage, neither of which qualified for the end of the season titles.

Alex Gordon also homered, his first one since coming off the Disabled List. Kyle Davies looked strong again, posting his second straight seven-plus inning start. He threw 15 9-21 Kila 2.jpgscoreless innings, ending in the eighth last night. Joakim Soria tied Doug Bird for third on the Royals all-time career saves list, notching his 41st save of the season and 58th of his career. Only Jeff Montgomery and Dan Quisenberry have more saves in their Royals careers than Soria. David DeJesus delivered yet again in the clutch, going 1-for-1 with runners in scoring position. DeJesus’ infield single moved the runner over who later scored. With the hit, DeJesus raised his RISP average to .413 – which leads the Majors and is percentage points more than Texas’ Ian Kinsler.

 DeJesus also hit his second career inside-the-park home run and the third for the Royals this season. An interesting note about the most exciting play in baseball, 77 of the team’s 93 inside-the-park home run have come at home in spacious Kauffman Stadium – it really makes a lot of sense when you think about it.

Last night was also “Shirts Off Their Backs” Night, which was a solid success, raising nearly $20,000 for Operation Breakthrough. With 23,754 in the stands for the 5-2 win over the White Sox and tickets going for a dollar, the total raised was close to a dollar per fan.

9-21 Shirts.jpgHere’s a picture of all of the winners on the field after the game with their new jerseys.

Today’s lineup:
DeJesus LF
Aviles SS
Guillen DH
Shealy 1B
Teahen RF
Gordon 3B
Buck C
German 2B
Maier CF

Duckworth P

Today’s Official Game Notes.

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The Future's now

9-19 Minor NLBM.JPGTonight is Futures’ Night, which means Kansas City will get to take a peak at the future of the organization. With the team on a seven game roll, tonight is a great night to make it out to the stadium.

The Minor League Players of the Year will be on hand. We’re going to have one last fireworks spectacular here at the “old” Kauffman Stadium, it’s Buck Night and of course the Royals pit their surging brand of baseball against the first-place White Sox. Let’s go Around the Horn…

First
The past few years the team has given Royals fans a glimpse of what is to come and not just with September call-ups (though it’s been exciting seeing the successes of Ryan Shealy and Kila Ka’aihue and Devon Lowery this month). Futures’ Night is that chance. Names like Mike Moustakas, Dan Cortes, Derrick Robinson, and Mike Montgomery are just a few of the players we’ve mentioned in this space who will be here to meet the fans.

9-19 Minor harvest.JPGBut these players got a taste of what it means to be a Kansas City Royal earlier today. Some of the front office accompanied the players as they helped out at Harvesters and then toured the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. The future of the Club then made its way to Kauffman to take in the Royals batting practice earlier this afternoon. It is important that these young players understand about the community they hope to play in and their short tour was designed to do just that. It’s worked in the past.

9-19 Minor tour 2.JPGAmong some of the names you might recognize from the last few years, Mike Aviles has won Minor League Player of the Year for his respective team three times (2007 at Omaha, 2004 at Wilmington and 2003 at Surprise), including the title of 2007 Minor League Player of Year last season for the entire organization. In 2006, three players who’ve seen time in the Majors this season were given the award. Zack Greinke and Alex Gordon – two of the building blocks for the team – won Pitcher and Player of the Year at Wichita and Carlos Rosa, who had three strikeouts in three innings earlier this season, was the Burlington Pitcher of the Year.

9-19 Minor work.JPGBilly Butler joins Aviles as a two-time winner of the award. He also won at two different levels. At 18, he won the Idaho Falls Player of the Year and followed that performance with the honor at High Desert as a 19-year old.

Some of the lower-level award winners over the past couple of years are already starting to help the organization win. Luis Cota and Nick Van Stratten won the award for Burlington Pitcher of the Year (2005) and Arizona Player of the Year (2006), respectively. Both were key to the success of the Burlington Bees in their run to the Midwest League Championship.

Second
Seven straight wins is the longest winning streak since 2003, 9-19 Banny.jpgwhen the Royals opened the season 9-0. The Royals are 8-2 over their last ten.

The team has clicked. Through the streak, the starter has won every game. They’ve bashed 12 homers and run their season win total to 69, matching their 2007 win total. With one more victory, they can secure their first 70-win season since going 83-79 in 2003.

After their last loss, a week ago in Cleveland, the Royals were 19 games back and eight behind Detroit. While they haven’t shaved much off their deficit to the division-leading White Sox, they are just three behind the Tigers.

Manager Trey Hillman told the media today that the strong play will get a test tonight. Matching up against the White Sox, a team who is playing for the postseason, he said the Royals will see just how well they have been playing. He hopes that they can continue their run, but doesn’t want to diminish what the Royals did in Cleveland. The Indians have been strong for most of the second half and Hillman’s boys shut them down (with the exception of the eventual Cy Young winner Cliff Lee).

Hillman sees tonight as a chance to measure his team. He believes comparing his team to the rest of the division, his main competition, 9-19 Callaspo.jpgwill give him an accurate read on where he sits. Chicago will bring a playoff atmosphere to the K and the Royals will need to stand up to the division leaders – “the pride of the division,” – if they want a shot at not finishing in last place, which is a goal the manager thinks shows something.

Short
Alberto Callaspo has hit in 12 straight, a career high…David DeJesus picked up his 70th RBI yesterday. DeJesus and Jose Guillen (95 RBI) are the first pair of Royals to knock in 70 or more runs in a season since Emil Brown (86) and Mike Sweeney (83) did it in 2005…DeJesus currently has a .402 average with runners in scoring position and is trying to become just the third Royal to end a season with a .400 RISP mark. Sweeney (.402 in 2002) and George Brett (.469 in 1980) are the only others to do it…Mark Teahen had two hits in the fourth inning yesterday, which was the first time a Royal had done that since Tony Pena, Jr. did it in the second versus St. Louis on June 14, 2007…The 500th strikeout of Zack Greinke’s career was former Royal Raul Ibanez in the first inning yesterday.

9-9 Stocking Cap.jpgThird
Tonight is the final Buck Night and Fireworks Friday. But tomorrow has plenty for the fans as well. Stocking caps and “Shirts Off Their Backs” Night will highlight the rest of the weekend’s promotions.

With the season coming to a close and Around the Horn running out of time, we here at ATH and the K want to again voice our deepest gratitude to you – the fan – for your support and for your patience with the renovation process. You will not be disappointed when we re-open on April 10, 2008 versus the Yankees.

Today’s lineup:
DeJesus LF
Aviles SS
Guillen RF
Shealy 1B
Teahen 3B
Butler DH
Callaspo 2B
Buck C
Maier CF

Bannister P

Today’s Official Game Notes.

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Double the fun

9-5 Walkoff.jpgWe doubled up the A’s and pulled of two sweeps in a day. The Royals played a lot of baseball (more than expected anyway) and brought home two wins.

With the Royals first sweep of a doubleheader since 2006 and first time sweeping the A’s twice in a season, we’ve got a lot of baseball to talk about, so let’s go Around the Horn…

First
Joey Gathright secured the Royals first win of the night with his walkoff and Ramon Ramirez put the finishing touches on victory #2 with his first career save. And just like that, the Royals completed their first doubleheader sweep since August 18, 2006 (which also happened to be against the A’s). The Royals took yesterday’s games 5-4 and 9-6. The ’06 games were 7-1 and 5-3.

With Tuesday’s win and the Boys in Blue’s first sweep in Oakland in 20 years back in July, the double-dip win gave the Royals a pair of sweeps versus the Athletics. It was the first time we’d broken out the brooms twice in a season since 1988.

K.C.’s offense was working yesterday, collecting 12 hits in Game 1 and 15 in Game 2. The 27 combined hits were the most since the Royals set a record on September 9, 2004 at Detroit with 33 hits during the two games. 9-5 Butler.jpgThe Royals were particularly nasty to the A’s Game 2 starter. Lefty Dan Meyer exited the ballgame in the fourth and was charged with eight runs (seven earned). The Royals went 9-for-17 (.529) with three doubles, two triples and two sac flies against Meyer. 

During both games yesterday, only one Royals’ starter failed to get a hit, with the charge being led by David DeJesus. The Royals outfielder collected a pair of three hit games, falling one hit shy of the franchise double-header record. He entered Game 1 with a .288 average and left Game 2 hitting .296, which is a considerable jump this late in the season. He became the first player in the Majors this season to have at least 3 hits in each games of a double dip.

Billy Butler also continued to dispense damage. His hitting streak is at 10 games and he smashed three doubles between the two games, scoring three times and knocking in three runs.


9-5 Shealy.jpgSecond
So far, the September newbies have had success, though only one has seen real action. Ryan Shealy hit a homer in his first game back and has two RBI in two games.

That will change tonight when Kila Ka’aihue, the Minor League power sensation, takes the field for the first time. K.K., as they call him, ran from first to second last night and even got his uniform dirty. But he entered the game as a pinch runner in the sixth for designated hitter Jose Guillen and never came up to bat.

Manager Trey Hillman asked Ka’aihue if he felt like he was ready for his Major League debut today and K.K. responded, “That happened last night.” Hillman smiled and said, “Are you ready for your first career start as a Major Leaguer?” Ka’aihue told him he thought he could handle that.

“He’s excited and ready,” Hillman told the press during the pregame press conference. Hillman told the media that each call-up was to evaluate the talent in that particular player. They weren’t just rewards for strong play in the minors – if that were the case, Around the Horn could make an argument for a few other guys. No, Hillman said they truly want to evaluate what they have in the September call-ups.

So K.K.’s evaluation kicks into full gear tonight. He’s slotted in at ninth, playing first base.

Short
During Game 2, the No.1-5 hitters (David DeJesus, Esteban German, Mike Aviles, Jose Guillen and Billy Butler) went 12-for-22 (.545)…German and Aviles made some excitement in the Royals fourth when they hit back-to-back triples. Unfortunately, this feat is not a stat Around the Horn can research easily…Alex Gordon’s latest MRI showed healing, but the prognosis of a return is still uncertain…From Trey Hillman’s press conference: Joey Gathright said he was focused on where the third baseman was playing him during the Royals’ 10th yesterday. He saw Jack Hannahan was in tight and Gathright smacked a single by him and into left. Hillman said the fact the Gathright is noticing where defenses are playing him and then being able to adjust shows progress…Also: The hope is for Mitch Maier (on the DL with three facial fractures) to start taking batting practice again soon and possibly return to the lineup next weekend in Cleveland, the site of his injury…Finally: Omaha Royals manager Mike Jirschele also received a September call-up. He’s with the club to help in coaching the extra players and evaluate the players who played under him all summer.


9-5 Viva.jpgThird
For the second year in a row, the Royals are putting on Hispanic Heritage Night. That’s right…Viva Los Royals!

There will be a pre-game party and concert, featuring sensation Christian Castro, Ugly Betty star Tony Plana, and local favorite Las Estrellas performing with Ram Tejano. The festivities are set for 4 p.m.

9-5 Pena.jpgPackages are available for the event, with donations going to the Guadalupe Centers, Inc.

As part of the night’s fun, Tony Pena, Jr. bobbleheads will be given out to the first 20,000 fans in attendance.

Also: Be on the lookout for Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day on September 17, versus the Mariners.

  

Tonight’s lineup:
DeJesus CF
Aviles SS
Guillen RF
Butler DH
Teahen 3B
Olivo C
Gload LF
Callaspo 2B
Ka’aihue 1B

Duckworth P

Today’s Official Game Notes.

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Game 1 vs. The Tribe

Tonight’s lineup: Kila Ka’aihue will get his first AB’s after pinch running in Game 2 last night.
DeJesus CF
Aviles SS
Guillen RF
Butler DH
Teahen 3B
Olivo C
Gload LF
Callaspo 2B
Ka’aihue 1B

Duckworth P

Today’s Official Game Notes.

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Two Homestands Left

9-2 Shealy.jpgSince it’s so late, just a couple quick notes. Let’s go Around the Horn…

First
Four new Royals will be in uniform today as the September call-ups. Along with the four call-ups, are a flurry of other moves. Lefties John Bale, Jimmy Gobble and Ron Mahay have all been activated from the Disabled List and in one fell swoop, the Royals bullpen jumped from none to three Southpaws.

Among the call-ups are two newbies (technically three since Yasuhiko Yabuta is still a rookie) and two players who’ve seen some service time. Ryan Shealy played parts of the last two seasons and will rejoin the Major League club. He’s slotted at first tonight, though rain is falling at Kauffman Stadium right now. Yabuta will also make his return, moving back into the bullpen.

9-2 Kila.jpgThe newcomers are Devon Lowery and Kila Ka’aihue. Both have been featured in Gameday magazine this season and both will be putting on their first big league uniform for tonight’s game.

To make all of this work, the Royals Baseball Operations made a flurry of other moves as well to open up roster spots for three players who weren’t on the 40-man roster. Angel Sanchez, Carlos Rosa and Shane Costa were all recalled and placed on the 60-day DL. Each had been on the Minor League DL before the Triple-A Omaha season. Royals second baseman Mark Grudzielanek was also moved to the 60-day, ending speculation that he might return from his ankle injury.

Second
Congratulations to Mark Teahen. He’s the Roberto Clemente Award winner for the Royals. The Clemente Award is given to the player on each team who both sports the on-field skills to be a valuable member of his team but is also devoted to helping their community.

9-2 Teahen.jpgTeahen has played four positions for the Royals this year and over the weekend, banged homers in back-to-back games, giving him 12 on the year. He also became the first Royal since Brian McRae did it in 1992 to hit two inside-the-park home runs in a single season.

He’s delivered off the field just as well. Earlier this year his fashion show raised $75,000 for the Kansas City area Challenger Division of Little League Baseball. The Challenger program helps children with disabilities to play baseball, using able-bodied buddies and specially-designed fields.

The award comes at a great time for Teahen who has his next Challenger event set in stone at Cold Stone Creamery on the Country Club Plaza. Teahen will be there from 6-7 on Sunday, Sept. 7. During the hour Teahen is there, fans are asked to donate to Challenger instead of regular payment. 100 percent of the money collected during the hour will go to the program.

Second
Former Royals broadcaster Buddy Blattner is up for the 2009 Ford C. Frick Award (vote here), the same award Denny Mathews won in 2007 and Mariners’ broadcaster Dave Niehaus won in 2008. Around the Horn interviewed Mathews and Niehaus earlier this season about the Cooperstown experience…Mike Aviles chatted with fans earlier today. He still leads rookies in batting average, sitting at .330…You can still get a great deal on gas and Royals tickets. Interested? Check it out…You can also be a hot dog (check here). 


9-2 Ballpark.jpgThird
The next homestand will feature a very special opportunity. A deal this good hasn’t been around since 1973. You can get a seat at the K for $3. Yep, three bucks.

It’s called retro-pricing and it’s a tribute to the old stadium as the Royals prepare for the Grand Re-Opening next season.

So from September 15-18 (the Mariners’series), you can get an upper deck seat for 1973 prices. In addition, general admission parking for the four games is just $5, courtesy of The Parking Spot.

Tonight’s lineup:
DeJesus CF
Aviles SS
Guillen RF
Butler DH
Shealy 1B
Olivo C
Teahen 3B
Callaspo 2B
Gathright CF

Greinke P

Today’s Official Game Notes.

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Minor Mashers

8-26 Hosmer.JPGThe Minor League seasons are winding down. But with the end of the season come a lot of things that shed hope on the future. Yesterday we mentioned some of the post-season awards which have already been won, but today we have two more things to celebrate down on the farm.

September is next week and that means September call-ups aren’t too far away, and with so much success going on in the minors, we’re not even going speculate what might happen, but we can talk about the positives in the system right now. To do that, let’s go Around the Horn…

First
The first moment of celebration for the organization was the debut of Eric Hosmer (wearing No. 21) last night at Idaho Falls. Hosmer was hit in his first professional at-bat – as if to say welcome to the pros Mr. No. 3 overall pick. But Hosmer showed some of what earned him his draft position, ending the night 1-for-3 with a double, a run scored, a run batted in and a walk. Hosmer’s Chukars mustered 10 hits, but could not hold off the Raptors. ATH expects he’ll be back out there again tonight as Idaho Falls finishes its season series with Ogden. The Chukars have 10 games left after tonight, a five-game series versus the Orem Owls through the weekend and then five game in Casper to face the Ghosts (we still love that Casper nickname).

8-26 Bees.jpgThe other big celebration for the organization includes another First Rounder. 2007 first round pick Mike Moustakas and his Burlington Bees are in the playoffs. They officially entered the postseason on Sunday despite losing. They are still in contention for their division title but are guaranteed a playoff spot and a postseason series starting next week in Burlington. Moustakas leads the Midwest League with 21 homers, is second in total bases, sixth in slugging and is in the top 10 in hits and runs.

While we’re mentioning high draft picks, this year’s sandwich pick is tearing up his first professional assignment. Michael Montgomery is throwing very well in Surprise for the Surprise Royals. He owns a 1.91 ERA in 37.2 innings and has 31 strikeouts to 11 walks. Opponents are hitting just .217 off him.

Finally, yesterday we devoted some space to Kila Ka’aihue, the slugging first baseman who won Double-A Texas League Player of the Year despite playing the last month in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. The pronunciation of the Hawaiian’s name has been a question mark among several media outlets. Well, we’ve got an official ruling on how to say his name. It’s Kila (KEY-luh) Ka’aihue (Ky-uh-HOO-A). Or, you can call him K.K., which is what manager Trey Hillman and the baseball operations people call him. And for those curious on his status because he left Sunday’s game after being hit by a pitch, Ka’aihue hit a double in going 1-for-3 with a run and two walks last night. He has walked 98 times this season and struck out 62 times and owns a .462 on-base percentage with a .635 slugging (combined Double-A and Triple-A stats).

Second
Manager Trey Hillman has his rotation set – hopefully – for the remainder of the season. The current quintet is locked in to finish out. Tonight’s starter is Zack Greinke, with Brian Bannister throwing tomorrow. Kyle Davies will open the Detroit series on Friday followed by Brandon Duckworth on Saturday and last night’s starter Gil Meche draws Sunday’s assignment.

8-26 Rotation.jpgHillman said he’s comfortable with the rotation as it is. He said last night Meche just didn’t have the same he has of late and it probably wouldn’t have mattered as much if he were facing a lesser hitting team. Hillman said tonight, Greinke needs to have all of his pitches working to have success.

This group has combined to start all but 35 games for the Boys in Blue this season. Duckworth is the low man on the totem pole, making his first start last Sunday, while Gil Meche leads the team with 28 starts.

Hillman said Kip Wells is probably stretched out the most in the bullpen and would merit the emergency start if need be, but that’s without knowing exactly which players will get the September 1 call-up. Triple-A Omaha finishes its season on Monday the 1st, an off-day for the big league Royals.

Currently nine players on the O-Royals are on the 40-man roster. Of those players, five are pitchers and four have spent time in the Majors this season (Jimmy Gobble – 31 MLB games, Tyler Lumsden – no MLB experience, Neal Musser – one MLB game, Josh Newman – four MLB games and Carlos Rosa – two MLB games). Although Rosa is on the 7-day D.L. and Gobble is finishing a rehab assignment.

Double-A Northwest Arkansas, which is still in the playoff hunt, has two players on the 8-26 NWA.jpgRoyals 40-man. The lone pitcher is Julio Pimentel, who threw a scoreless inning in the 2008 MLB Futures game during the All-Star festivities. But with the Naturals entering today’s play tied for the division lead and fighting for the post-season, Around the Horn doubts the Royals will subtract any players from their roster on Sept. 1.

Two other quick Naturals notes: Pitching Coach Larry Carter was selected as the Texas League coach of the year…Veteran Minor Leaguer Cory Aldridge drove in seven yesterday with two homers.

Short
David DeJesus knocked in his 58th run last night, tying his career high set last season…10 of John Buck’s last 15 hits have been for extra bases including six doubles, a triple and three homers…Alberto Callaspo collected his first RBI since before going on the Disabled List in late June. His last RBI was June 22 versus San Francisco…From Trey Hillman: He does not expect Alex Gordon back anytime soon. He told Gordon there is no timetable because there is no precedent for how the third baseman heals from an injury of this type since he’s never had one…Also from Hillman: With Gordon out and veteran Mark Grudzielanek out, Callaspo will see a the majority of the time at second…Last word from Hillman: He thinks instant replay will be a good addition and will take pressure off of umpire crews. He respects the umpire’s way of life, living on the road for the sixth-month season and anything that can help alleviate their stress and is good for the game is a good thing in Hillman’s opinion.

Third
Yesterday we mentioned in passing the Hot Dog Derby contest. You, yes you, can sign up to be either Relish, Mustard or Ketchup.8-26 Derby.jpg If you’d like the opportunity to don the color of your condiment, you can do so right now, all you have to do is enter.

The last weekend of the season, nine lucky fans will become hot dogs and compete for the ultimate glory – winning the Kauffman Stadium Hot Dog Derby Race. September 19-21 is your chance.

Tonight’s lineup:
Aviles SS
Callaspo 2B
DeJesus LF
Guillen RF
Teahen 3B
Butler DH
Gload 1B
Olivo C
Gathright CF

Greinke P

Today’s Official Game Notes.

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Not feelin' blue in blue


8-25 Duckworth.jpgWhen it was announced the Royals would be bringing the powder blue back, fans were rabid. Everyone seemed excited.

Why? Powder blue symbolized the World Series, the playoffs and the glory of the franchise.

This year is a “New. Blue. Tradition.” And we can assure you, something good is going on with this color. We’ve decided that today we’re going to chat about light blue, so let’s go Around the Horn…

First
Mark Teahen and Jose Guillen powered the powder blue-clad Royals to a win yesterday. Light blue is apparently a strong statement for the Royals and we’re not talking about just fashion8-25 Teahen.jpg. Teahen had a big role in the Royals’ last blue beatdown. He scored the winning run on Tony Pena’s walk-off single in extras versus the Twins. And yesterday he provided again, knocking in three.

Guillen apparently likes blue as well, as he’s contributed 12 homers during day games (not all of those have been at home), including his monster shot into the construction area in left during the second inning (if you haven’t been paying attention and missed Around the Horn’s renovation update a few weeks back, that ball will be a souvenir next year).

The powder blue jerseys were set to be alternates. They were planned to be worn just on Sundays. But they became a home day game staple and have been on the backs of the Boys in Blue for every game under the sun minus the home opener. And what have they done in them? 11wins. 5 losses. Yep. The Royals are 11-5 wearing powder blue.

Those jerseys have provided some memorable moments too from the moment they debuted in their lone night game back on April 12… including the first home run of Mike Aviles career, Pena’s walk-off winner and back-to-back 19 hit attacks versus the White Sox, one of which was showcased on the FOX national broadcast.

Second
Royals fans have been clamoring about Kila Ka’aihue all season. Now that the end is near for the Minor Leagues, 8-25 Kila.jpgthe Hawaiian is seeing some of the positives from his monster season. He was named Texas League Player of the Year today in a vote by managers, beat writers and play-by-play announcers. In case you forgot, Ka’aihue was promoted to Triple-A about a month ago. He was that good.

His 26 home runs still lead the Texas League (he’s up by three) and his 80 walks are tied for the lead entering today’s play. As Billy Butler (a former Texas League batting champ) might say and did while he was in the Texas League, Ka’aihue raked this season. He compiled 79 RBI and scored 64 runs in 91 games with a .463 on-base percentage and a .624 slugging percentage. With Triple-A Omaha, Ka’aihue hasn’t missed a beat. Hitting .341, he has nine homers and 17 RBI in 25 games.

Dan Cortes, 9-4 with a 3.98 ERA was also named to the Texas League Post-Season All-Star Team. Cortes’ nine wins are tied for the most in the league and he’s fifth with 106 Ks. He’s gone 7-1 since the All-Star break and is 3-0 with a 2.67 ERA in five starts this month.

Short
Alex Gordon is also a former Texas League Player of the Year, taking that title in 2006…Brandon Duckworth’s win yesterday was his first as a starter since June 24, 2006 and his first win in the Majors since September 25, 2007…Duckworth was the 15th different Royal to record a win this season…Robinson Tejeda’s August numbers: He is averaging 12.4 K’s per nine innings and opponents are hitting just .093 against him….Mike Aviles is hitting .448 during his current seven-game hitting streak…The Royals are 12-4 during day games at home…12-4 is also the Royals record when Jose Guillen homers.


8-19 Soria.jpgThird
Texas is in town for three and tomorrow is Joakim Soria T-Shirt night. The shirt is a tribute to his All-Star appearance and Around the Horn is a big fan of the tagline “Closing Soon”.

With three left this week/this month, the Royals home dates are dwindling down. Just four clubs come to town in September and only 13 games are slated to be played before we close our doors…until the Grand Re-Opening event next April!

Upcoming events: Be a Weiner. Viva Los Royals.

Tonight’s lineup:
Aviles SS
Callaspo 2B
DeJesus LF
Guillen RF
Teahen 3B
Butler DH
Gload 1B
Buck C
Gathright CF

Meche P

Today’s Official Game Notes.

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