Assessing Potential Jays Trade Targets: KC 1B Kila Ka’aihue and Clint Robinson

Continuing through assessments of potential Jays Trade Targets brings us into Kansas City, a place where winning is so close that fans are closing their eyes and waiting for the long list of names likely to be called up in 2011. However, due to positional strengths, some of their best prospects may never get that chance in Kansas City. Two of these are players who the Jays could try to trade for in…

1B Kila Ka’aihue

6’4″ 235 lbs / Bats Left, Throws Right / 26 years old

Drafted: in the 15th rd of the 2002 draft by the Royals

Minor League Stats:

Yr Ag Lev AB H 2B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
02 18 Rk 139 36 8 3 21 26 35 0.259 0.381 0.381 0.762
03 19 A 395 94 21 11 63 67 87 0.238 0.355 0.380 0.735
04 20 A 390 96 23 15 62 64 98 0.246 0.361 0.431 0.792
05 21 A+ 493 150 31 20 90 97 97 0.304 0.428 0.497 0.925
06 22 AA 327 65 15 6 45 49 73 0.199 0.303 0.300 0.602
07 23 AA-A+ 451 112 21 21 82 76 78 0.248 0.359 0.435 0.794
07 23 A+ 207 52 8 9 42 35 38 0.251 0.360 0.420 0.780
07 23 AA 244 60 13 12 40 41 40 0.246 0.359 0.447 0.806
08 24 AA-AAA 401 126 15 37 100 104 67 0.314 0.456 0.628 1.085
08 24 AA 287 90 11 26 79 80 41 0.314 0.463 0.624 1.086
08 24 AAA 114 36 4 11 21 24 26 0.316 0.439 0.640 1.079
09 25 AAA 441 111 27 17 57 102 85 0.252 0.392 0.433 0.825
10 26 AAA 323 103 16 24 78 88 69 0.319 0.463 0.598 1.060

A hulking 1B, Ka’aihue is ready for a full season of MLB time and could prove to be one of the better power hitters in the American League. Whether or not he can hit for average and get on base at similar rates as he did in the minors remain the only questions that need answering in his case.

or

1B Clint Robinson

6’4″ 225 lbs / Bats Left, Throws Left / 26 years old

Drafted: in the 25th rd of the 2007 draft by the Royals

Stats:

Yr Ag Lev AB H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
07 22 Rk 253 85 18 1 15 66 2 0 19 42 0.336 0.388 0.593 0.981
08 23 A 379 100 22 3 17 64 0 3 37 67 0.264 0.333 0.472 0.806
09 24 A+ 436 130 31 1 13 57 4 3 35 79 0.298 0.356 0.463 0.819
10 25 AA 477 160 41 5 29 98 4 3 58 86 0.335 0.410 0.625 1.035

Robinson had a breakout 2010 and tore up AA. He has put himself on the map in terms of a possible full-time MLB 1B on a squad, it just is unlikely to be with the Royals who already have 3 better options ahead of him.

To say that the Royals have a glut of extremely talented 1B in their system is a serious understatement. From Eric Hosmer to the 2 listed above, the Royals will soon have to make some tough decisions in terms of who plays where and who gets the most ABs. The one thing we know for certain at this point is that the Royals will not be able to fit these 3 and Billy Butler on their MLB roster at one time unless one accepts a bench role or shifts to another position. The Royals could really use all 4 of their bats in the lineup, but a trade seems more likely at this point, most likely to strengthen their rotation, pen, or more importantly when considering a trade with the Jays – the catcher position, possibly the biggest weakness of the Royals system at this point.

Ka’aihue and Robinson both represent power hitters who get on base at well above-average rates. Robinson won the Texas League triple crown in AA last season (had an impressive 71 extra base hits) and has been brought up patiently, 1 level at a time by the Royals. Either acquisition would be an upgrade over what the Jays have in their system at first base, and with the talent that the Jays have behind the plate, it’s foreseeable that a fairly straightforward deal could be completed.

The likeliest targets at this point by the Royals being pitching and/or A.J. Jimenez, Yan Gomes or Brian Jeroloman. The potential deal’s exact makeup would depend on which of these would be acquired, but it seems like both teams in this case would be dealing from positions of strength and resolving weaknesses.

It seems to me that either Robinson or Ka’aihue could step in at some point in 2011 and be impact power bats the Jays may need to be successful. Ka’aihue has only played 1B during his entire minors career, and Robinson only played 1 game in LF and made 1 error during that game, so the chances of either player making a move to the OF seems unlikely at this point.

I do understand the Jays are still looking at Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion as their 1B/DH combination, but either Robinson or Ka’aihue could get one year of AAA time and could make a move up in 2012. Robinson has been on a steady climb through the minors and has yet to face AAA pitching, so another year in the minors isn’t a terrible thing for the prospect. I would think that the Royals would consider A.J. Jimenez as part of a comparable return, leaving a future Travis d’Arnaud and J. P. Arencibia combination intact.

Just because I’ve assessed Yonder Alonso, Kila Ka’aihue and Clint Robinson as the first 3 potential Jays trade targets, it doesn’t indicate that I believe the Jays will only be chasing a 1B prospect or player. I just believe that the Jays will be looking to add depth to that position and that these 3 players may be more attainable than most as 1B prospects due to their team’s situation.

- MG

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Topics: AJ Jimenez, Brian Jeroloman, Clint Robinson, JP Arencibia, Kila Ka'aihue, Travis D'Arnaud, Yan Gomes, Yonder Alonso

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  • Eric

    I heard Kila is getting a long look this year, so he probably won’t be made available unless he totally bombs.

  • Mylegacy

    Mat – I’m enjoying this series. Well done.

    However, two 26 year olds – I suspect they don’t have the bat speed to handle big league pitching – or they’d have had a legit shot by KC.

    • Mat Germain

      Agree Mylegacy, but it’s also the reason I believe the price may make the trade worthwhile.

  • Batman

    I agree with Mlegacy … Kila has already has spent 2 years and parts of a third at AAA. Not a good sign.

  • aaforpm

    Mat,

    I enjoy your detailed reviews/write-ups, have you thought about evaluating other (non-trade) potential targets such as:

    1. Yu Darvish (to create a starting pitching surplus by bringing in a YOUNG international star)

    2. Elijah Dukes (to see if he’s matured enough to take care of his immense potential…I still see Sheffield when I watch videos of him hitting)

    Also, in terms of high ceiling minor league players, I would really be curious to hear your thoughts on:

    1. Jean Segura (toolsy second baseman in Angels org)

    2. Miguel Sano (an oober prospect we could maybe get from the Twins before he becomes untouchable by dealing away solid starting pitching surplus [SEE ABOVE])

  • Phil from KC

    KC is looking for Kila to have break out year. Playing behind Billy Butler (KC’s best hitter since George Brett) has stunted his opportunities to play 1B in KC. He’s not a Golden Glove as I’ve seen his reaction time too slow on one occasion.
    Robinson is definitely in Omaha (AAA) this year. If Kila hits, he will be bait. If Kila falters and Robinson can field as good as he has hit then he may get a ticket to KC in late summer.
    If KC trades, it has to be an outstanding catcher and a starting pitcher.

  • Marsupial Jones

    The Royals have Will Myers in their system. Baseball America just ranked him as the 10th best prospect for 2011. I dont think they are too concerned about bringing in a catcher.

    • aaforpm

      He is now an outfielder (no longer doing ANY catching), and Baseball America rated him based on that information

      SEE: http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/rankings/top-100-prospects/2011/2611329.html

      • Marsupial Jones

        Thats kinda the point. If they were truly worried about the catcher position (worried to the point that they would trade away top tier prospect to bring in a catcher) they probably wouldnt have moved Myers to the OF. They moved him because he has a faster route to the majors as an OF and less risk of injury. Not because he was a bad catcher.

        Also they have Salvador Perez in the system. Who is a decent enough catching prospect on his own.

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