by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
After a big day at the plate on Thursday, going 5-5 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 3 R, reports surfaced that the Milwaukee Brewers were pushing 2B Keston Hiura to Double-A. He is deserving of the promotion, after the 2017 first round draft pick hit .316 with 7 HR, 23 RBI, 38 R and 4 SB over 206 AB at High-A.
At 21-years old (he’ll turn 22 in August) he had the potential to move quickly as no one questioned his potential at the plate (it was more where he fit defensively, with an elbow issue hanging over him). Already reaching Double-A, now we have to wonder if he could make an impact before 2018 is out? Let’s take a quick look at what he’s accomplished and what we can expect moving forward:
While he “only” has 7 HR thus far, he’s shown plenty of extra base power with 16 doubles and 3 triples. He now has 373 professional AB and it’s hard to argue with the results:
- Doubles – 30
- Triples – 10
- Home Runs – 11
That’s 51 extra base hits in what amounts to roughly two-thirds of a season. Maybe he doesn’t project out as a 30+ HR hitter, but there’s 15+ upside and playing half his games in Milwaukee it wouldn’t be surprising to see him mature into a consistent 20+ HR threat.
While Hiura showed an ability to make consistent contact in ’17 (19.8% strikeout rate), a 14.0% SwStr% gave us reason to be at least slightly concerned. He’s eased them, at least a little bit, at High-A though we also can’t simply ignore these metrics:
- Strikeout Rate – 21.1%
- Walk Rate – 6.3%
- SwStr% – 10.9%
He is hitting the ball hard (24.2% line drive rate), but could the strikeout rate further regress against more advanced pitching? That’s something to watch closely, especially with his continued struggles to draw walks (7.0% in ’17) and continued elevated BABIP (.450 in ’17, .373 in ’18).
Hiura has the potential to post a strong average, but don’t consider it a given either. There are warning signs, and how he handles Double-A pitching will be extremely telling.
He’s not a burner, and since being drafted he’s gone 6-for 14 in SB attempts (4-for-10 this season). Maybe with a little maturation he develops into a 10-ish SB threat, but that’s about it.
There’s obviously a lot to get excited about, as Hiura could become a 20/10 second baseman. However there’s risk in the average department and we need to watch closely how he performs at Double-A. That will be telling, and ultimately he should figure it out, but don’t be surprised if he stumbles a bit along the way.
- Preseason Grade – B
- Current Grade – B
Sources – MILB.com, Fangraphs