Hawaiian Players Add Punch
Can you think of past and current major league base players who were born in Hawaii? A few come to mind. Shane Victorino, current outfielder for the Phillies, Ron Darling and Sid Fernandez, long time starting pitchers for the Mets, Charlie Hough, pitcher for Dodgers and Rangers, and Kurt Suzuki current catcher for the A’s.
There have been 36 Hawaiian born players to reach the major leagues. The Kansas City Royals happen to have two on their major league roster. First baseman Kila Ka’aihue and pitcher Kanekoa Texeira are just the eighth pair of native Hawaiians to be part of the same major league club at the same time.
Kanekoa Texeira was originally selected by the Chicago White Sox in the 22nd round (675th overall) of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. He was traded to the New York Yankees on November 14, 2008 along with Nick Swisher in exchange for (current Royal) Wilson Betemit, Jeff Marquez, and Jhonny Nunez. Texeira was then selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 2009 Rule 5 draft. He made the 2010 Mariners’ opening day roster but was designated for assignment on May 31, 2010 and claimed off waivers by the Kansas City Royals on June 3, 2010. Shane Victorino, a fellow Hawaiian, is Texeira’s cousin.
Texeira is currently a middle reliever. He does not have overpowering stuff, so he is being used in the sixth and seventh innings. He does not quite have the talent to be a set-up guy for Joakim Soria. Texeira is pitching much better than he did with the Mariners, but he still gives up too many hits. If he wants to stick around, in the major leagues the WHIP and ERA need to come down.
Kila Ka’aihue was drafted by the Royals in the 15th round (438 overall) of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft. He has spent much of his professional career in the minor leagues. When rosters expanded on September 1, 2008 he was called up. He recorded his first major league hit on September 20, 2008. After spending all of 2009 in the minor leagues, Ka’aihue didn’t see the major leagues again until May of 2010.
Ka’aihue is off to a not-so-good start after being called up to the majors. He was giving the Royals all the right reasons that he needed and deserved to be given a chance. Ka’aihue needs to start hitting like he was hitting in the minors. There is plenty of talent coming through the system, and soon there will be extreme pressure put on his shoulders to perform. Hopefully he can start to show signs that he belongs in the majors. Right now Ka’aihue looks like he may be one of those guys who has 3.5 talent, which is too good for Triple A but not good enough for the Majors.
Ka’aihue’s younger brother, Kala Ka’aihue, is a designated hitter in the Oakland A’s organization. He is a couple years away from any opportunity to see action in majors.
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