Hiura posts first Double-A four-hit game

Top Brewers prospect homers, reaches base five times

Keston Hiura has a .308/.370/.498 slash line across two Minor League levels this season. (Michael Krebs/Biloxi Shuckers)

By Rob Terranova / MiLB.com | July 14, 2018 1:08 AM

Keston Hiura injured his thumb in a game on June 29 against Double-A Mobile while fielding a ball at second base. Later in the game, while trying to beat out a grounder to first, he was swiped on the same thumb by the first baseman's glove. That caused enough discomfort that Hiura took the next seven games -- over six days -- to rest what he called "a minor sprain."

The Brewers' top-ranked prospect returned to action on July 6, but his offensive output took a hit. Until Friday.

Hiura turned in his first four-hit effort since moving up to the Southern League, going 4-for-4 with a homer, a pair of RBIs and two runs scored as Double-A Biloxi held on for an 8-6 victory over Jacksonville at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. He also was hit by a pitch.

Video: Hiura blasts a solo shot for Biloxi

MLB.com's No. 30 overall prospect snapped out of a 2-for-36 funk that stretched back to June 26. His batting average dropped 100 points over that 10-game span, but his perfect night at the plate against the Jumbo Shrimp raised it 24 points to .288.

"I really think those games I missed with the thumb injury got me off-beat," Hiura said. "I think I'm just getting back into it now, and that's definitely a little slower than I thought I would. But sitting out those games, I think that's just what kind of got me. But I feel good, I'm definitely back to 100 percent and it felt good to make solid contact tonight and find holes."

Hiura went after the first pitch he saw and dropped a first-inning single into center field that scored Brewers No. 6 prospect Corey Ray and put the Shuckers on the board. In the third, he took right-hander Max Duval (2-9) deep to right after falling behind, 0-2, for a solo shot, his third dinger since a promotion from Class A Advanced Carolina on June 1.

Gameday box score

"He had me down and he was trying to work me inside," Hiura said. "I was just trying to put the ball in play there and I got a fastball that I could drive the other way."

The No. 9 overall pick in last year's Draft was plunked by Duval leading off the sixth and scored on 17th-ranked Jake Gatewood's 15th roundtripper. Hiura hammered a base hit to left on the second pitch he saw from southpaw Scott Squier in the following frame.

"He swung the bat well tonight. His timing was there and he got some pitches to hit and didn't miss them," Shuckers hitting coach Al LeBoeuf said. "I think what happens is that it's his first full season and when players haven't experienced the grind of pro baseball like this you get a little worn out. Even though you think you don't, you do and you end up trying to overpower the bat and swing with different parts of your body. But tonight, he was on his legs and that short, compact stroke that got him here really showed."

After falling behind, 0-2, in the ninth, Hiura battled back and blooped a 2-2 fastball from righty Kyle Keller into center with two outs. His fifth trip on the basepaths ended two pitches later when he was caught stealing.

"This definitely helps a lot, especially going into this weekend," said Hiura, who will head to Washington, D.C. on Saturday to play for Team USA in the All-Star Futures Game. "But it's just baseball: sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn't. You just gotta keep your focus and treat every day like it's a different day. The past couple of weeks have been rough, but I'm just happy to make solid contact tonight and help the team win.

As for representing the Brewers in the nationally televised event, he said, "It's definitely an honor and I'm grateful to be invited to this event. I'm looking forward to ... going up against some of the best young talent from around the world."

Friday was Hiura's third game of the season with at least four hits. The most recent was on May 31 when he went 5-for-5 with two homers in the Carolina League. He was promoted the following day.

"He has a solid routine that he does and he just stuck with it," LeBoeuf said. "He always came in with the same mindset, he was always in good spirits and he always played the game the right way. That's the type of kid he is and I think tonight helps him tremendously.

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"Whenever you put in work and get success, it creates confidence. I actually told him earlier today, 'We're going to laugh about [the funk] in September.' If there's one thing you don't forget, it's how to hit."

Brewers No. 3 prospect Lucas Erceg and Tyler Heineman also went yard for Biloxi.

Right-hander Thomas Jankins (9-5) got the win, despite allowing six runs on seven hits and four walks with four punchouts over six frames. Jon Olczak worked around a hit in the ninth, fanning two for his first Double-A save.

Marlins No. 7 prospect Isan Diaz slugged his ninth dinger, a three-run blast, with two outs in the third.

Rob Terranova is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobTnova24. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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