Regarded by many scouts as arguably the best pure hitter in the 2017 Draft, Keston Hiura lived up to that reputation in his professional debut.Selected by the Brewers with the ninth-overall pick in June, Hiura posted a robust .371/.422/.611 slash line with 20 multihit performances this summer over 42 games
Regarded by many scouts as arguably the best pure hitter in the 2017 Draft, Keston Hiura lived up to that reputation in his professional debut.
Selected by the Brewers with the ninth-overall pick in June, Hiura posted a robust .371/.422/.611 slash line with 20 multihit performances this summer over 42 games between the Rookie-level Arizona League and Class A Wisconsin. He recorded 62 hits and 25 extra-base hits (four home runs) in that span, while also tallying 32 runs scored and 33 RBIs.
"Obviously it's a special bat," Brewers farm director Tom Flanagan said about Hiura, who led all college hitters with a .442 average this past spring as a UC Irvine junior.
"His swing is so quick and short to the ball, and there's some real pop in there. He's a fun guy to watch -- kind of one of those guys that when we're doing batting practice or drills, you see other guys peaking over at him or waiting for him to step in the box."
Hiura, Milwaukee's No. 5 prospect (No. 81 overall), continued to showcase his innate hitting ability this fall during Milwaukee's instructional league, which ran from Sept. 22 to Oct. 13 in Arizona. More significant, the 21-year-old second baseman finally was back on the field defensively after being limited to designated-hitter duties only as a junior due to a right elbow injury.
The possibility that Hiura could require Tommy John surgery after being drafted was enough to deter some teams from taking him with their first pick. The Brewers, believing that he could avoid surgery, placed Hiura on a six- to- eight- week throwing program -- during which he also received ground balls at the keystone on a daily basis -- with the goal that he could be ready to make his defensive debut by the end of the season.
The Brewers' timeline for Hiura's recovery proved accurate as he logged his first professional game at second base with Wisconsin on Aug. 15, only to land on the disabled list several days later with a hamstring injury. He rejoined the Rattlers in early September and closed out the regular season by starting at second base in two of his final three games.
Largely unrestricted in the field this fall during instructional league, Hiura began to make up for some of the developmental time that he lost during the 2017 season between the college and professional ranks.
"He played basically all of his innings on defense at second base," Flanagan said. "He looked good there, and he'll only continue to get more comfortable throwing after his layoff in college."
More important for Flanagan and the Brewers, however, was that Hiura remained healthy throughout camp.
"We met with all of our players before the start of the program to go over individual goals," he said. "For Keston, the No. 1 thing was to just get through the program healthy, because we knew everything else would take place as long as he's out there healthy."
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.