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O’s Call Up Rhyne Hughes

With the worst wOBA in the American League, the Baltimore Orioles club is looking to kick-start a sluggish offense. As a result, the organization promoted triple-A first baseman Rhyne Hughes to the Majors on Saturday.

Hughes is a name you may not be familiar with. He was not amongst Baltimore’s Top 10 prospects for 2010 when we published the list prior to the season. He did not make Baseball America’s Top 30 list. Hughes was originally acquired from the Rays in ’09 during a late-season trade involving veteran catcher Gregg Zaun. He was drafted by the Rays in the eighth round of the ’04 draft out of a small community college.

The 26-year-old first baseman will make his MLB debut when he is penciled into the lineup for the first time. He was hitting .353/.421/.667 in 51 at-bats this season at triple-A. He had three homers and five doubles in 15 games. Last season with three teams, Hughes hit .279/.349/.506 with 25 homers and 79 RBI in 515 at-bats. He also, unfortunately, had a strikeout rate of 33%.

The left-hand hitting Hughes could platoon with the right-hand hitting Garrett Atkins, who has a .242 wOBA, but is actually performing better against right-handed pitchers right now (He’s 0-for-16 vs LHPs). Hughes has a career OPS of .843 against right-handers (compared to .716 vs LHPs).

From a fantasy perspective, Hughes has little value unless he can wrestle the full-time job away from Atkins. The rookie should be monitored in AL-only leagues but, hey, he’s no Kila Ka’aihue.

From April 16 at FanGraphs: Ka’aihue probably fits best with the O’s. The club is second last in the American League in on-base percentage (.309) and is 11th (out of 14 teams) in slugging percentage. Those just happen to be the two areas that Ka’aihue excels in. He slugged 37 homers between double-A and triple-A in ‘08 and followed that up with 17 at triple-A in ‘09. He’s walked 100+ times in each of the past two seasons and had a walk rate of 18.4% in ‘09. His BB/K rate was an impressive 1.20.