To start the 2019 season, the Brew Crew Ball community voted on their own top prospect list. Now we’re going back and looking at how the group did choosing the top prospects and reflecting on each of their seasons. We’ll be ignoring any (the one) prospects that were traded.
To start, we are looking at number one prospect Keston Hiura. He was the org’s unanimous top prospect since mid-2018 for good reason - he can hit.
Hiura started the 2019 season at Triple-A San Antonio. From April 4 to May 13, he demolished baseballs with the Missions to the tune of a .331/.404/.684 line. Add on 11 homers and it was easy for the Brewers to call him up the second a spot opened when Travis Shaw was “injured.”
In his 17-game MLB debut, Keston hit .281/.333/.531. He hit another five homers and worked his way up the lineup, hitting in the upper half towards the end of his stint. Then, in the move that definitely has NOTHING to do with service time, Hiura was optioned back to the Missions to be replaced by the poorly hitting Shaw. It was definitely not about service time though. We should note that Josh Hader just snuck into the Super Two status and now has four years of arbitration.
The Brewers couldn’t justify keeping Hiura down for long, though. He once again dominated his AAA competition, hitting .321/.406/.655 with eight more bombs. As Shaw continued to struggle, it was obvious that the Brewers needed to bring up their top prospect to help the big league team.
On June 28, the team brought Keston up for good. He finished his season by hitting .308/.376/.580 with 14 homers. The offensive booster saw him hit between the third and fifth spots, a key role he’ll likely resume in 2020.
While Keston’s fantastic 2019 - including 38 homers across Triple-A and MLB - was a great start, fans certainly got to see that the second baseman of the future has a lot to work on. To start, he needs to improve at playing the keystone. Hiura racked up 16 errors in his 81 games with Milwaukee. While the team has expressed confidence that those mistakes will fade with more time at the position, it’s hard as fans not to be concerned. After all, throughout his development, we consistently heard about how unsure his arm was. Still, he deserves more than a half season to prove that he can hang at the position; however, it’ll be hard to watch him throw more past targets as big as Eric Thames.
He also struck out quite a bit, whiffing 107 times in 348 plate appearances. Patience has never been Keston’s strong suit, but a 30.7% K-rate isn’t comforting. As he continues to adjust to major league pitching, most pundits firmly believe that number will decrease to the 20-24% we’re used to seeing from Hiura.
There’s some work to be done, but the top prospect put up an All-Star performance in his debut season. In almost any other season, we’re probably talking about a legitimate shot at Rookie of the Year honors, he was so great. It was a good selection and one we can likely be happy with for at least five more years.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs