Regardless of the competition, Keston Hiura has always hit. He hit .500 in his senior season at Valencia (Calif.) High School, won college baseball's batting title with a .442 average this past season at UC Irvine and has continued to rake in the early stages of his professional debut.Hiura, whom
Regardless of the competition, Keston Hiura has always hit. He hit .500 in his senior season at Valencia (Calif.) High School, won college baseball's batting title with a .442 average this past season at UC Irvine and has continued to rake in the early stages of his professional debut.
Hiura, whom the Brewers selected ninth overall in last month's Draft, hit .435 in a brief 15-game stint in the Rookie-level Arizona League and then made an immediate impact with Class A Wisconsin, driving in a run with a base hit in his debut with the Timber Rattlers on Wednesday.
"As highly as our scouts talked about him, he's lived up to all that and then some," Brewers farm director Tom Flanagan said. "He's gone about things the right way, too, busting it down the line, playing within himself and putting up big numbers in the at-bats he's had so far."
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Overall, Hiura has a hit in 15 of the 16 games he's played, including 12 extra-base hits and nine multihit efforts. He's collected 19 RBIs and is boasting an impressive .424/.487/.803 slash line.
While collecting hits at a rapid pace is certainly enjoyable, Hiura's main focus is on the process, the individual battle between the pitcher and hitter.
"I enjoy the competition," Hiura said. "Not every pitcher is the same, but I kind of treat them the same. They may have different stuff or different types of velocity, but in the end, it's just the pitcher versus the hitter, so you have to do whatever it takes to beat the pitcher. I like that. I like that challenge and competition."
The Brewers knew they were getting an elite bat when they selected Hiura in the Draft, but there have been some questions about his defense and his arm. Hiura doesn't have a true defensive home -- he has played second base and center field in the past -- and served strictly as a designated hitter this past season because of an elbow injury. There were concerns that he might need Tommy John surgery after being drafted, but he has been taking grounders at second base daily and is halfway through a six- to eight-week throwing program.
"The throwing program is going well, my arm feels good," Hiura said. "It's just a matter of time until I'm comfortable in the field and how the arm progresses will dictate whether I see some action toward the end of the season."
Similarily, the Brewers also feel Hiura will make his defensive debut before season's end.
"We want to make sure his mechanics and everything are in order," Flanagan said. "Still a ways away from playing a position, but I wouldn't think that would be ruled out. He'll probably be ready to play a position at some point before the season's up."
William Boor is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.