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Burnes, Hiura get Cactus debuts in the books

Brewers' top two prospects help respective split-squad teams win
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The top Brewers prospect's tweet was short and sweet.

"1st Spring Training game," Keston Hiura wrote Friday night after collecting two hits in a split-squad win over the Giants, adding a checkmark to note another professional first in the books.

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The top Brewers prospect's tweet was short and sweet.

"1st Spring Training game," Keston Hiura wrote Friday night after collecting two hits in a split-squad win over the Giants, adding a checkmark to note another professional first in the books.

Pitching prospect Corbin Burnes, who sits right behind Hiura on MLB Pipeline's recently updated list of Milwaukee's top Minor Leaguers, tweeted as well. He shared the final score of the Brewers' win over the Cubs, in which he was the pitcher of record.

"You get a little nervous the first time warming up in the 'pen," said Burnes, who breezed through a clean inning on 11 pitches, all strikes. "You try to stay in the moment, but you want to take it all in. Once I got to the mound, I kind of took it in, and it was like, 'You know what? I belong here.'"

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"It was a great day," Hiura said. "I was looking forward to that day for a while."

Hiura was in the starting lineup against the Giants as the Brewers' designated hitter, a familiar role considering it's how he began his pro career last summer. The Brewers liked Hiura's bat so much that they drafted him ninth overall knowing he had a right elbow injury that might require Tommy John surgery. He opted for a platelet-rich plasma injection and rehab instead, and logged at-bats without playing the field.

By the fall, Hiura was healthy again and back at second base. It was during the fall instructional league that he learned he'd be invited to big league camp.

"I'm learning as much as I can, from the players to the coaching staff to everyone around here," Hiura said. "I'm learning what I can do to get to this level, and at the same time learning how to take care of my body to play plenty of games every year."

Tweet from @Kestdaddy: 1st Spring Training game������

He enters this season ranked 56th in MLB Pipeline's overall Top 100 after hitting .371/.422/.611 in 41 games between the Rookie-level Arizona League and Class A Wisconsin. Hiura said the only time he thinks about his arm is when people ask him about it.

"Giving it time to let the arm heal was big for me," he said. "I wouldn't be here if I didn't do that."

Burnes, too, is in his first big league camp as a non-roster invitee. He is the Brewers' reigning Minor League pitcher of the year after going 8-3 with an organization-best 1.67 ERA in 26 starts between Class A Advanced Carolina and Double-A Biloxi in 2017, with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of nearly four to one.

Video: Counsell on No. 56 overall prospect Keston Hiura

Burnes is likely to begin the season in the Minor Leagues, but manager Craig Counsell said he considers Burnes and fellow pitching prospects Freddy Peralta, Taylor Williams and Adrian Houser as candidates to contribute to the big league club as soon as midseason.

For his part, Burnes reported to camp with the mindset that he's trying to win a spot on the Opening Day roster.

"That's my mindset every day," Burnes said. "Every day in the Minors, every day leading up to this point, you're trying to make the team. So I'm going to do whatever I can, and whether I start at Double-A, Triple-A or the big leagues, that's up to them. I'm going to compete every day."

Once a player gets to Double-A, Burnes said, "It kind of hits home. You see [Jorge] Lopez getting the call, 'T-Willy' [Williams] getting the call, you realize it's right there. It's only one phone call away. I'm one phone call away now."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Milwaukee Brewers, Corbin Burnes, Keston Hiura