For years the Royals were unwilling to give Kila Ka’aihue an extended chance in the majors despite his strong minor-league production and then when they finally stuck him in the lineup he hit .216 in 52 games last season and .195 in 23 games this year.
That’s hardly enough playing time to prove Ka’aihue can’t hit in the majors, but career minor leaguers usually can’t afford not to thrive right away and today the Royals designated the 27-year-old first baseman for assignment after keeping him at Triple-A since early May.
Ka’aihue hit .272 with an .812 OPS in 95 games at Triple-A, which gives him a .281 batting average and .910 OPS in 353 career games there, but after 10 years in the Royals’ farm system the former 15th-round pick is running out of time to stick in the majors.
Pirates outfielder Starling Marte is back in the lineup after the team reinstated him from the 10-day disabled list on Saturday. Marte served the bare minimum on the DL after making a rapid recovery from the right oblique strain that sidelined him several weeks ago.
Prior to landing on the disabled list, the 29-year-old outfielder was off to a strong start. He slashed a robust .308/.366/.503 with six home runs, 10 stolen bases and an .869 OPS in 175 plate appearances with the team. This is the first time he’s dealt with an oblique issue, and the first DL stint he’s served since he suffered a bout of back tightness in 2016. While he has yet to prove he can bounce back to his pre-injury production levels, his quick recovery bodes well for a successful return to major-league play.
In a corresponding move, outfielder Jose Osuna was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. The move came as somewhat of a surprise, given that the Pirates elected to retain top prospect outfielder Austin Meadows rather than the more established Osuna. Meadows was recalled from Triple-A in the wake of Marte’s injury and has only played seven games at the major league level so far, but he’s already made a strong impression: he went 13-for-29 with three home runs, two stolen bases and five RBI since his call-up on May 18.