The life of the unappreciated minor league player has to be frustrating. Two native Hawaiian outfielders have been toiling away in the minors this season with nary a notice by big league clubs. Even with the trade deadline having passed, no one could or would pry one of these two players loose.
Kila Ka-aihue got a call up earlier in the year by the Kansas City Royals where he got four at bats before being returned to Omaha. His .319 average is sixth in the Pacific Coast League (yes, Omaha, Nebraska is in the Pacific Coast League), his .463 OBP leads the league and his .598 slugging is third in the league. He is third in the league in homers with 24 and has a 88/69 walk to strikeout ratio. But why would a team needing a left-handed bat look at a guy like this? Maybe MLB has something against the family. Kila's Dad spent eleven years in the minor leagues and never got a taste of The Show. Kila's little brother, Kala, is in his sixth year of the minors and Kila is in his ninth. 26 years of minor league baseball in the family and a grand total of 28 plate appearances at the major league level.
Another member of a Hawaiian baseball family also has not received a chance this year despite a similar performance. Bronson Sardinha, after spending last year out of baseball, signed with the Detroit Tigers this winter. He started the year in extended spring training and then was sent to Double-A Tulsa. Despite only playing 57 games, he is eighth in the league in walks and doubles. He has not played enough to qualify for the percentage titles but his line of .324/.451/.577 you would think would merit a move to at least Triple-A.
His brother Dane got a brief callup to the Phillies earlier in the season but the Sardinhas also have been largely career minor leaguers. This is Bronson's ninth minor league season and he got 12 plate appearances for the Yankees in 2007. Dane has been called up several times but has played in just 44 major league games. He is in his tenth minor league season. The third Sardinha brother, Duke, put in seven years of minor league ball before his career ended in 2008.
Why a team wouldn't give either of these guys a shot is beyond me. It's not like they're ancient. Bronson is 27, Kila 26. They're cheap, they've shown excellent strike zone judgment and power. I don't get it. Keep trading washed up veterans making millions and hoping you luck into a return to their glory days.