Prospect Profile: Kala Kaaihue
Name: Isaac Kala Kaaihue Jr.
Kala Kaaihue was taken by the Boston Red Sox in the 22nd round (654th overall) in the 2003 draft. Honestly, I have no idea how he came to be in the Braves organization but I do know that he never played in the Red Sox organization and that he didn't play anywhere in 2004. As far is I know, he just showed up on the GCL Braves in 2005. I'm sure not complaining, though. This kid has been putting up some big numbers. As a member of the GCL Braves, Kaaihue batted .283 and hit 6 home runs to go along with his .520 slugging percentage. He ended up going to Danville for only and handful of at-bats, but he sure made the most of them. He went 7/16 with 2 home runs and slugged 1.000. The Braves were fairly impressed as they gave him an invitation to Spring Training in 2006. Kala comes from a baseball family. His dad played in the Pirates system for a few years before going home to Hawaii and becoming a very prominent baseball figure in the community. Kala's older brother, Kila, is currently playing in the Royals minor league system.
This has truly been Kaaihue's breakout season. Kala absolutely destroyed the South Atlantic League in the first half of the season. He hit .329/.458/.614 while slugging 15 home runs and driving in 49. His 66 strikeouts were a little high but he made up for it with 50 walks. That would indicated that he attempts to work the count in his favor and goes into many deep counts that result in either a strikeout or a walk. Kaaihue's promotion to Myrtle Beach has been a little slow in the beginning. He is 4/22 with a homer and 4 RBI's. Twenty-two at-bats is not nearly enough to make a judgment on how he will fair in Myrtle Beach, but it would be reasonable to suspect that his numbers would decline given the fact that Myrtle Beach is a pitcher's haven.
With this being Kala's first season in single-A, his projection is very difficult. Many players dominate at the lower levels but fizzle out very quickly once they start advancing to better competition. At best, Kala projects as the slugging first baseman that Atlanta has lacked since the departure of Andres Galarraga. The ironic thing is that Kaaihue has drawn comparisons to "The Big Cat" because they look very similar (see above) and Kaaihue has been hitting like Galarraga this year. Another good thing Kaaihue has going for him is his plate discipline. He needs to keep his walk totals and OBP up in order to succeed at higher levels. I look forward to watching Kala Kaaihue as it seems he will be a big hit or a big time fizzler.