At the end of each minor league season, Baseball America takes the time to tour around each circuit from Triple-A down to the short-season leagues and name the top-20 prospects at every stop. The Triple-A affiliate for the Milwaukee Brewers — the San Antonio Missions — plays in the Pacific Coast League, and this year BA ranked two current (and one former) Brew Crew minor leaguers among the top-20 prospects in the PCL.
The first player recognized was Keston Hiura, who was ranked as the league’s #2 prospect despite playing only 57 games at the level:
Hiura played in the PCL’s most pitcher-friendly park in San Antonio and raked. He earned his first big league callup in May and returned to the majors for good in June.
Hiura remains a premium hitter with his balanced swing, easy, all-fields power and quick adjustments. He ranked fifth in OPS (1.088) at the time of his second callup.
Even with below-average defense and arm strength at second base, his bat makes him a potential All-Star.
”The ball really comes off his bat,” Tacoma manager Daren Brown said. “He didn’t swing at a whole lot of bad pitches and if he swung at one, he didn’t swing at it again.”
Hiura tore through the Pacific Coast League while batting .329/.407/.681 with 19 home runs in just 243 plate appearances. He was nearly as good as the big league starter at second base once he got to Milwaukee for good, batting .303/.368/.570 with 19 more home runs in 84 games for a 139 wRC+. His 30.7% strikeout rate and .402 BABIP may be reason for a little bit of concern about sustainability, but expect the 23 year old to continue making adjustments and succeeding at the game’s highest level. Often described as a “hitting savant,” Hiura looks like he is going to be a star in the middle infield for a long time.
Also drawing praise was outfielder Trent Grisham, who earned BA’s #16 ranking:
Grisham moved up from Double-A on June 20 and laid waste to the PCL. His 104 total bases, 13 home runs and .776 slugging percentage all ranked second in the league from the time he joined until his Aug. 1 callup.
Grisham had more walks (23) than strikeouts (22) with his keen knowledge of the strike zone. A more aggressive approach resulted in a power spike—his 26 home runs in the minors this year more than tripled his previous career high of eight.
Grisham is an above-average runner underway despite his thick frame and can play all three outfield positions. How well he maintains his power will determine his future.
Grisham was named Milwaukee’s Minor League Player of the Year after he combined to hit .300/.407/.603 with 26 home runs and 12 steals across 97 games at 441 plate appearances between the Double-A and Triple-A levels. Even with the juiced baseball and the often hitter-friendly environs of the PCL, Grisham’s .381/.471/.776 batting line (194 wRC+) and 13 home runs in 34 games with the Missions was like something out of a video game.
Grisham was called up to the big leagues at the beginning of August and held his own while playing a significant role for the club down the stretch, batting .231/.328/.410 with six dingers in 183 plate appearances. He stepped in admirably as the regular right fielder after Christian Yelich went down with a season-ending knee injury, but unfortunately Grisham’s dream season ended in a nightmare when his error allowed three runs to score in the eighth inning of Milwaukee’s 4-3 Wild Card game loss to the Nationals. Still, the former first-round pick finally made good on his considerable potential in 2019 in part by reverting back to his previous golf-style grip on the bat, and he is projected to play a major role in the Cream City again next season.
Also worth noting is that Mauricio Dubon — the player that Slingin’ David Stearns and company sent to San Francisco in exchange for Ray Black and Drew Pomeranz — was ranked as the PCL’s #15 prospect. He hit .323/.391/.485 in 25 games for San Fran’s Triple-A affiliate after the trade before getting called up and batting .279/.312/.442 with four homers and three steals in his first big league stint with the Giants (28 games, 109 plate appearances).
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs