High expectations came with Keston Hiura when the Milwaukee Brewers drafted him in the first round last year. He showed promise in his first taste of professional baseball last year, and he’s already off to a fast start this spring. Could Hiura open the season as the Brewers starting second baseman?
Keston Hiura was widely viewed as the most polished college bat in the 2017 MLB Draft. However, there were serious questions about his right elbow. He managed to avoid Tommy John surgery, but he only played three games at second base across two Minor League stops in 2017. Hiura received a clean bill of health before Spring Training. If he stays healthy and develops his defensive skills, Hiura could start at second base in Milwaukee sooner rather than later.
How hot is Hiura right now?
He’s appeared in seven Spring Training games and he’s slashing .467/.500/.533 in 16 plate appearances. Only one of his seven hits went for extra bases. Hiura has also struck out four times while walking once.
What about his defense?
Hiura has played 20 innings in the field at second, and he already has a pair of errors. Jonathan Villar is the only second baseman who has more time in the field this spring, and he has committed zero errors.
So, the bat is ready, and the glove needs work?
Yes, that appears accurate at this point. It was also accurate when the Milwaukee Brewers drafted him last year.
Can Hiura win the starting second baseman job?
Honestly, it would have taken a few injuries for Hiura to win a starting job. Given how rough he’s been in the field, winning the starting role isn’t likely…yet. Hiura has made a strong impression in the first few weeks of the season, and he barely played the field last year. There was always going to be some level of rust, and that’s what we’re seeing now.
The Milwaukee Brewers also have four guys ahead of Hiura on the depth chart right now. Unless the Brewers were hit by a rash of injuries, it was a near 0% chance for Hiura to win the job outright. Eric Sogard, Hernan Perez, and Villar are all off to good starts this spring as well. Villar is the clear favorite with Sogard and Perez likely to make the Major League roster and earn at bats at second.
Hiura has impressed enough that starting the season at Double-A isn’t out of the question. He could end up as the final cut in Spring Training. The longer he sticks around Major League camp, the more high level pitching he can face. If the Brewers want to test him at the plate, picking up a few at-bats against Major League pitching is the best option right now.
Hiura may start the year at Double-A, but there is a path to a Major League job. All he has to do is prove he can handle the defensive aspects of his job, and he’ll force his way onto the Milwaukee Brewers 25-man roster. The only way he doesn’t see the Majors this year is if he really can’t play second base. A move to the outfield or first base would cause a delay in his arrival.