Keston Hiura Hits His Way To Double-A

When the Brewers drafted Keston Hiura with the ninth overall pick in 2017, they thought he might move quickly because he was an advanced hitter.

They were correct.

On June 1, the Brewers promoted the 21-year-old Hiura from high Class A Carolina to Double-A Biloxi, just hours after he went 5-for-5 with two home runs in a Carolina League game. That outburst boosted his batting line to .320/.382/.529 with seven home runs, 16 doubles and three triples in 50 games.

“He put a big bow on his time with Carolina,” farm director Tom Flanagan told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel upon announcing Hiura’s promotion.

The Brewers never doubted that Hiura could handle the work offensively. Their only concern was in the field, primarily because of an elbow concern that prompted him to DH exclusively as a UC Irvine junior.

Hiura was diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament prior to the 2017 college season, but tests performed after he signed for $4 million indicated the injury had healed after a platelet-rich plasma injection. Still, the Brewers used him mostly at DH in his pro debut.

After a strong showing in his first big league camp in 2018, Hiura was assigned to Carolina and again used sparingly in the field after reporting some elbow soreness. He served strictly as the DH for the first 28 games before being allowed to see action at second base.

Hiura alternated between second base and DH after the first week of May and eventually played 15 games in the field. He was slated to see plenty of action in the field with Biloxi.

“He’ll get the normal, occasional days off, but he handled everything well in Carolina,” Flanagan said, “so this will give him continued opportunities to play in the field but also face the next level of pitching.”

This is why the Brewers took a calculated gamble in drafting Hiura, with full knowledge that his elbow issue could worsen and force Tommy John surgery at some point. But they considered him by far the most advanced college bat in the 2017 draft and have seen nothing to dissuade that belief.

>> Righthander Phil Bickford, who sat out all but six games in 2017 because of a drug suspension and subsequent broken hand, finally moved from extended spring training to Carolina at the end of May.

>> Righthander Devin Williams, who sat out the 2017 season after having Tommy John surgery in March, was slated to leave extended camp and pitch for Carolina in June. He will work as a tandem starter.

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