UC Irvine's Keston Hiura, one of the top hitters in college baseball and No. 20 on BA’s Top 100 College Prospects for the 2017 draft, had a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment last week to try to aid recovery of his injured elbow.
As a result, Hiura—who hit .358/.436/.539 last year, leading the Big West Conference in slugging—will miss preseason practice, and perhaps more.
Coach Mike Gillespie confirmed Hiura had the procedure, which UC Irvine had informed scouts about via email this week. Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache is handling Hiura’s elbow, which has a partial tear, and Gillespie said the doctor was optimistic that Hiura would not require surgery.
“He is shut down completely, and it looks like it will be three weeks before he can swing again,” Gillespie said. “As long as he can swing again without pain after that, he’ll play, and he dealt with it in the fall, when he really performed well.
“We’ll just hold our breath every time he swings. There’s a lot at stake for him personally, obviously. Who can predict where he would go (in the draft) if he’s fully healthy, but I still think he can really go high, because he can really hit.”
Hiura could be ready to hit by Opening Day, Feb. 17, when the Anteaters play host to Minnesota. However, Hiura likely will be limited to DH duty early in the season, as he was last summer for USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team.
“The defense—there is no defense for now,” Gillespie said. “We'll see when gets back on a throwing program.”
Hiura played third base as a freshman and outfield as a sophomore before his Team USA stint. However, UC Irvine assistant coach Ben Orloff said last June that he envisioned Hiura becoming an offensive second baseman in pro ball, and several scouts have said they would like to see him at they keystone.
To play second, Hiura will have to be able to throw without pain, and that hasn't happened consistently the last year for him in college. While he's one of the better power bats in the college class, his lingering elbow issue and questions about his defensive home will loom large as the 2017 draft approaches.