Leading up to the 2019 season, there were a lot of questions as to what the role of Keston Hiura, the Milwaukee Brewers number one prospect at the time, would be in the major leagues. Hiura was a very big part of the Brewers 2019 season in his rookie year, and he was even more important than originally anticipated.
Keston Hiura was called up to the majors May 14th while the Milwaukee Brewers were in Philadelphia. He made an impact right away offensively. His call up was in response to Travis Shaw being put on the injured list, but with Shaw being very little use at all on offense, Hiura’s bat was more than needed.
Overall Season Grade: B+
His first time in the majors would only last a few weeks though, as Hiura was sent back down to Triple-A on June 3rd in response to Shaw coming off the DL. There was really no reason for him to be sent down based on his performance, and Shaw continued to produce nothing on offense. In hindsight the Milwaukee Brewers probably regret this move, but it didn’t seem to effect Hiura much upon his return on June 28th.
Hiura continued to rake in the minor leagues, and brought it back to the majors as well, finishing the season with 19 home runs, 95 hits, and an OPS of .938 in 84 games. He was fairly consistent throughout his time up without going through any major slumps, and also had to deal with a stint on the injured list that took him out for awhile.
Where at the beginning of the year Hiura was maybe looked at as a late season addition to an already stacked lineup, he came up and was very quickly batting cleanup for this Milwaukee Brewers team. That is mostly due to the disappointing seasons from Shaw, Jesus Aguilar, and others, but it’s also due to Hiura’s quick surge into a very solid major league hitter, and him forcing manager Craig Counsell to give him at-bats.
With the offensive prowess though, there are downfalls to Hiura’s game right now, and he will have to work on these things to really grow into an elite player in the major leagues, and a potential all star for years to come. Those two things would be strikeouts and, on a much higher level of urgency, his defense at second base.
What’s next for Hiura in 2020?
Hiura is undeniably a great hitter, and will continue to get better with a full season in the majors in 2020, but the one downside of his rookie year on the offensive end that was a bit uncharacteristic of his pro career to this point was his strikeouts.
Hiura struck out 107 times in 2019, which is a little less than a third of his at bats. Despite the punch outs he still was able to put up great numbers, but striking out a third of the time is too much, and if he can cut down on those to make more contact, it will result in more hits and runs being produced.
The more pressing issue however, is his defense, which is more of a real problem than a small correction. Hiura made 16 errors, and even on plays that weren’t official errors he was either not making the easy plays that he should be, or he was trying to do too much and making a mistake.
Either way, his defense is still very much a problem, but he is not bad enough to the point where he is incapable of playing the position, and he does have the ability to get better. He’s capable of turning double plays, and he’ll put all his effort into diving for balls or whatever else, but right now the Milwaukee Brewers will have to put up with the frequent errors and mistakes.
There may be times where Hiura will get pulled late in a game for defensive purposes, but there is nobody on this roster that comes even close enough to Hiura offensively to make Counsell think he should have Hiura sit. This is a situation where the team will put up with the defense for his offense, and work with him to turn that weakness into a non-issue more-so than trying to make him a gold glover.
Hiura was a designated hitter in college, and there have been concerns about his defense since the moment he was drafted, and while those concerns remain, the Milwaukee Brewers and their fans should be very excited and optimistic about the future for Hiura.
Hiura is poised to be a strong contributor to this offense for years to come, and he is clearly ready for be a big time bat right away in his career. Next season, expect him to be right back up in the top of the lineup with Yelich creating one of the best right-left offensive duos in all of baseball.