The logjam at first base for the Kansas City Royals is finally cleared out now that Eric Hosmer is firmly entrenched in the Majors. At one point, the Royals were throwing anything and everything at the position, hoping Mike Jacobs, Kila Ka`aihue, Ross Gload or Ryan Shealy could handle the position since Billy Butler was better suited as a DH. Now with the trade of Ka`aihue to the Oakland Athletics for pitcher Ethan Hollingsworth, the nightmare known as first base is no more.
So what do the Royals have to show for their Kila Ka`aihue experiment? Hollingsworth is the return and the 6-2, 200 lb. right-handed starter might just be what the Royals needed. Since the organization is weakest in starting pitching, there’s no doubt that Hollingsworth was the right target. For the former Rockies draft pick (4th round in 2008), it’s also the fastest ticket he’s going to find to the Major Leagues.
The good news for the Royals is that Hollingsworth has fared well after some experience at each stop along the way. He was an All-Star in both 2010 and 2011 with the California League and Texas League respectively. As a 24-year-old, he just hit AAA this season for only two starts, so he’s clearly going to need some experience at the highest levels before the Royals bring him up. Perhaps some fall league experience or a great spring training could accelerate that process.
This year, Hollingsworth pitched mostly for Oakland’s AA franchise in Midland and the results were solid: 6-5, 3.61 ERA in 16 starts. He struck out 66 and walked 23 in 94.2 innings. A power pitcher he is not, but word on Hollingsworth is that his slider and change-up are notable.
If anything, he’s another arm to bring to the table for an organization that lacks intriguing options. You can never have enough pitching in the Majors and the Royals aren’t even at that level yet. That makes this a solid exchange by Dayton Moore.