Keston Hiura – Christian Yelich’s middle-of-the-order wingman
On a Milwaukee Brewers team that lost two big hitters during the offseason, Keston Hiura may be the key to 2020.
Indeed, in their 23-year-old second baseman, the Brew Crew has an emerging power bat who will be looked to to fill the offensive void left by the departures of Mike Moustakas and Yasmani Grandal. And if his rookie campaign of 2019 is any indication, he’s up to the task.
In 314 at-bats last year, the Brewers’ 2017 first-round draft choice batted .303 with 19 home runs, 49 RBIs, an on-base percentage of .368 and an OPS of .938. Parse those numbers out over a 550-at-bat season and you have a player with 33 home runs and 86 RBI. Pretty impressive production for a rookie – or anyone.
Of course, this being his second season, there are always worries of a sophomore slump and on this team that could be problematic. Really the only bonafide middle-of-the-order force on the Brewers is Christian Yelich – the offseason additions of Jedd Gyorko, Justin Smoak and Eric Sogard not withstanding – so if Hiura falls into an early season slump from which he doesn’t emerge, there will be little else in the lineup to discourage opposing pitchers from pitching around the 2018 National League MVP. And that whooshing noise you’ll then hear is the air coming out of the Brewers’ season.
But if he indeed improves on his impressive first year, then watch out NL Central.
Full name: Keston Wee Hing Natsuo Hiura
Birth date: Aug. 2, 1996
Birthplace: Valencia, Calif.
Height/weight: 5 feet 11 inches/190 pounds
Alma mater: UC-Irvine
Teams: Milwaukee Brewers (2019-present)
Position: Second base
Honors and achievements: Drafted in the first round (ninth overall) by the Brewers in 2017; played for the U.S. collegiate national team in 2015; named Big West Conference Player of the Year in 2017