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Hiura staying hot, getting reps at 2nd in AFL

October 26, 2018

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Keston Hiura's ability to hit has never been questioned.The Brewers' top prospect (No. 30 overall), owner of a 70-grade hit tool, led NCAA Division I hitters with a .442 average as a junior at the University of California, Irvine, before the Brewers selected him ninth overall in

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Keston Hiura's ability to hit has never been questioned.
The Brewers' top prospect (No. 30 overall), owner of a 70-grade hit tool, led NCAA Division I hitters with a .442 average as a junior at the University of California, Irvine, before the Brewers selected him ninth overall in the 2017 Draft. In his pro debut, Hiura hit .371, and in 2018, his first full season, he reached Double-A Biloxi and hit .293.
With that kind of track record, it's no surprise that Hiura is raking in the Arizona Fall League -- hitting .326 and leading all players with 19 RBIs through 11 games. However, the opportunity to get extra at-bats, while always an added bonus, was not why he was sent to Arizona.
Arizona Fall League overviews for all 30 teams
"I like going up there and seeing a bunch of great arms and challenging myself at the plate," Hiura said. "But a big reason for me being here is to get more reps on the defensive side and work hard in that aspect."
Hiura is an average defender and has decent footwork at second base, but he hasn't played a lot of defense in his brief professional career.
A right elbow injury caused Hiura to begin his career as a designated hitter. After completing a throwing program in 2017, Hiura appeared in three games at second in 2017 and then played the position 79 times this season.
The 22-year-old began the year with two goals, to stay healthy and to get as many defensive reps as possible.
He accomplished the first goal and is constantly working on the second, having played eight of his nine AFL games at second base, in addition to taking extra grounders during batting practice.
"Throughout the year I was able to get a good amount of reps at second base," Hiura said. "Obviously the more you take live ground balls off the bat, the more comfortable you feel out there. Being able to throw from different lengths and arm angles definitely helps when it comes to my future."

Brewers pitchers in Fall League
Daniel Brown, LHP -- The 23-year-old reliever spent the entire season with Class A Advanced Carolina, where he went 7-4 with a 4.20 ERA in 39 games. Brown, a seventh-round pick (2016) racked up 61 strikeouts and issued 34 walks in 64 1/3 innings.
Bubba Derby, RHP -- Derby, whom the Brewers acquired from Oakland in February 2016, reached Triple-A Colorado Springs in 2017 and then spent the entire 2018 season with the Sky Sox as well. The former sixth-round pick (2016) posted a 4.49 ERA through 118 1/3 innings and saw time as both a starter and a reliever -- making 16 starts and 15 appearances out of the bullpen. Derby fared well in Triple-A in 2017 but struggled with control this season as he walked 50 batters. He also gave up 127 hits and allowed opponents to hit .279.
Jon Olczak, RHP -- The 24-year-old put together the best full season of his professional career, pitching for Class A Advanced Carolina and Double-A Biloxi. Olczak, a reliever, went 10-3 with a 1.39 ERA and converted six of seven save opportunities across 44 appearances (58 1/3 innings pitched). The right-hander also walked 19 and struck out 63.
Miguel Sanchez, RHP -- Sanchez pitched across a trio of levels and went 2-1 with a 2.52 ERA in 34 relief appearances. The right-hander spent most of the year (23 appearances) with Double-A Biloxi, where opponents hit just .213 off him. However, Sanchez has just as much success at his other stops too. Overall, Sanchez had a .201 opponents' batting average and piled up 95 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings.
Brewers hitters in Fall League
Trent Grisham, OF (No. 19) -- Grisham's overall slash line of .233/.356/.337 won't jump off the page, but his reduced strikeout totals certainly do. After fanning 141 times in 133 games last season, Grisham struck out 87 times in 107 games in 2018, and he did so while playing at the Double-A level for the first time. The former first-round pick (2015) played all three outfield positions, but likely fits best in center.
Mario Feliciano, C (No. 23) -- The 19-year-old was sent to the Fall League to make up for lost time as he played in 46 games this season as he battled injuries. Feliciano showed offensive potential in 2017, his first full season, hitting .251/.320/.331 with four homers. However, Feliciano struggled at the plate this season, hitting .205/.282/.329 through 42 games with Class A Advanced Carolina before being sent to the rookie-level Arizona League.
Weston Wilson, 1B -- Wilson is the definition of versatile. The 24-year-old has played seven positions (he hasn't pitched or caught) in his Minor League career and played six (didn't play center field) in 2018 alone. Since he was selected in the 17th-round of the 2016 Draft, Wilson has spent the bulk of his career at either first or third base. In addition to playing all over the diamond, Wilson also had his best offensive season to date. The 24-year-old hit .270/.326/.434 and hit a career-high 14 homers in 117 games. Wilson spent most of the season with Class A Advanced Carolina but was promoted to Double-A Biloxi late in the year.

William Boor is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.