At the start of 2020 Spring Training, Keston Hiura was set to begin his first full season in the majors. The second baseman was enjoying his third trip to Maryvale when COVID-19 delayed, if not robbed him of, his first full major league season.
Keston Hiura had an impressive high school career at Valencia High School, batting .500 his senior year with 30 RBIs and 14 home runs. Despite his impressive stats, he went undrafted and instead attended UC-Irvine. He quickly picked up where he left off, hitting .330 in his first year against more impressive talent. Things only got better from there. He hit .358 in his sophomore year, and .442 in his junior year. Despite Huira’s nagging right elbow injury, the Milwaukee Brewers selected him 9th overall in the 2017 draft. Milwaukee GM David Stearns said, “What we do know is we’ve got a premium bat at a premium position…” That prediction has come to fruition.
In 2018, Keston’s prospects for making the team were minimal, but his time in Spring Training afforded the rookie his first taste of the “bigs.” He gained valuable experience and was exposed to major league pitching while taking his knocks fielding big league hitters. Manager Craig Counsell described him as such, “Prodigy is a weighty word that I would drop on him, but he’s an advanced hitter. It’s easy to see when you watch him it. He’s got a gift of hitting a baseball and it takes you a long way in this game.”
Last year, Keston had a slight chance to make the Opening Day roster, but only if he played really well. His 2019 Spring Training numbers were unimpressive as he posted a .229 batting average. Rather than making the trip to Milwaukee, he started out in AAA San Antonio.
But Keston’s Cactus League woes did not keep him down. Instead, he quickly began showing the promise the Brewers knew was there. By May 14, 2019, Hiura was called up and made his major league debut against the Phillies. He had a solid showing, hitting .281 with five home runs and nine RBIs. Manager Craig Counsell quickly returned him to the minors on June 3rd. This was for a variety of reasons including making room for Travis Shaw and option strategies. Keston took the move in stride. He was hitting .329 with 19 home runs and 46 RBIs when Brewers recalled him on June 28th.
He was strong at the plate, but suspect at times in the field. Was it just rookie jitters and lack of experience? Or was his right elbow acting up again? Keston finished the year with 16 errors. But his bat did not fail him. In 84 games last year, Hiura made 314 plate appearances and had 95 hits, and 19 home runs. He finished the 2019 with a .303 batting average.
Brewers fans are looking forward to seeing what Keston will do in the coming years. At only 23 years old, he has potential to grow and produce even greater numbers. The Brewers have him wrapped up for awhile. He is eligible for arbitration in 2023 and will be a free agent in 2026.
The future looks bright for Keston Hiura. If only MLB can get back on the field.
- Keston is of Japanese (father) and Chinese (mother) descent
- His full name is Keston Wee Hing Natsuo Hiura
- He received a $4 million signing bonus
- He and girlfriend Jaclyn Creel just welcomed Maxwell, a puppy to their home, joining doggy sibling, Venice
- Keston is on Instagram and Twitter (@kestdaddy)
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