After a breakthrough 2018 campaign, Keston Hiura will get to showcase his skills with the big club this spring. The top-ranked Brewers prospect was one of nine prospects in the system to receive a non-roster invite to Major League Spring Training, the team said Wednesday. Among those joining him will be
After a breakthrough 2018 campaign, Keston Hiura will get to showcase his skills with the big club this spring.
The top-ranked Brewers prospect was one of nine prospects in the system to receive a non-roster invite to Major League Spring Training, the team said Wednesday. Among those joining him will be No. 2 Corey Ray, fourth-ranked Lucas Erceg, No. 8 Zack Brown and 11th-ranked Payton Henry.
In his first full season in the Minors, Hiura started with Class A Advanced Carolina, hitting .320/.382/.529 in 50 games before earning a midseason promotion to Double-A. Despite a tough August, Hiura fared well at the higher level, finishing with a .272 average and a .755 OPS.
With such strong numbers came plenty of accolades. The No. 30 overall prospect was named a Brewers representative at the Futures Games, a Carolina League midseason All-Star and a MiLB Organization All-Star for the second consecutive year.
"I think at the very beginning I might have been going out of my plan, out of the way I want to go about my at-bats," Hiura told MiLB.com in May about the adjustments he made with the Mudcats. "So it's been learning from those and from the pitchers and how they're pitching me. I think it took a little bit of time to kind of click. It's more about hitting my pitch vs. theirs. It's about hitting good pitches and making good contact -- that's what I was trying to look for. When you do that, the more it'll fall."
Hiura's offensive prowess from the regular season carried into the offseason, when he compiled a .323 average and a .934 OPS with the Peoria Javelinas en route to becoming the Arizona Fall League MVP.
"I can't say enough about his bat," a Brewers executive told MiLB.com in November. "It's a combination of hit and power. He's got a good idea of what to do at the plate, he's an intelligent kid. We couldn't be more pleased with the progress. The next step is making him a complete player, which involves more and more reps at second base. That means handling the throws with all the aggressive shifts we make, handling throws from different parts of the field."
Outfielder Ray used an impressive combination of power and speed in the Southern League, leading the entire Brewers system with 27 long balls while tallying 37 stolen bases. Erceg slugged 13 homers with a .688 OPS with the Shuckers while Henry notched a .707 OPS and threw out 44 percent of would-be base stealers.
On the bump, Brown went 9-1 with the Southern League's best ERA (2.40) and a 1.06 WHIP while whiffing 119 batters in 127 2/3 innings for Biloxi. Along with being named a midseason and postseason All-Star, Brown was deemed an Organization All-Star and the club's Pitcher of the Year.
Andrew Battifarano is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @AndrewAtBatt.