Missions' Hiura bops pair of dingers

Top Brewers prospect drills grand slam, plates five runs

Keston Hiura posted a .865 OPS during his first career stint in the Major Leagues this year. (Shawn E. Davis/MiLB.com)

By Chris Bumbaca / MiLB.com | June 14, 2019 2:21 AM

It's been a Hiura's welcome back to the Minor Leagues for Keston. 

Keston Hiura -- the top Brewers prospect -- went deep twice, including a grand slam, to drive in five runs as Triple-A San Antonio lambasted Tacoma, 15-1, on Thursday at Nelson Wolff Stadium. 

"Once I got back down, nothing really changed where the game changed or pace of play or anything like that," he said. "Just being able to stick with my approach. We have a great group of guys down here and it was great to be back playing with them."

Video: Hiura drives grand slam for Missions

The 22-year-old had a simple goal when he returned to Triple-A: keep swinging the bat well. Exposed to big league pitching for the first time in his career earlier this year, Hiura hit both of Thursday's jacks against top Mariners prospect Justus Sheffield, who has some experience in the Majors himself.

In the first inning, MLB.com's No. 12 overall prospect drove a 1-1 offering from the 36th overall prospect over the wall in left-center to put the Missions on the board. 


Gameday box score


One frame later, Hiura stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. He again worked a 1-1 count, then deposited another Sheffield mistake to center field for San Antonio's first grand slam of 2019. 

"I think it was more of just being able to see the ball well and swing at pitches I want to swing at and not try and chase anything," the UC-Irvine product said. "The second home run, the grand slam, was more of being aggressive with runners on base, trying to be able to drive the ball to the outfield to find a gap or whatnot." 

Rainiers relievers kept him from reaching base in the remainder of his three at-bats, but he'd already put together his third multi-homer game of the season. Hiura left the building twice against Oklahoma City on April 26 and did it again eight days later against Round Rock. 

His most recent feat didn't mean extra to him for having come against another highly touted prospect. Hiura sees the opposition as a challenge regardless of who is throwing the ball.

"It's more of being able to relax at the plate and stick to your approach and not take too much out of it," he said. "You've just got to approach every player the same, whether it's Clayton Kershaw on the mound or Joe Smith." 

The Brewers called up Hiura -- who was the first player from the 2017 Draft to reach The Show -- on May 14 after he put up a .333/.408/.698 showing through the first five weeks of the season. He recorded a hit in his first Major League at-bat with his family in the stands behind the visiting dugout.

"I think at that level, every pitcher's a guy," the Valencia, California, native said. "They all have tremendous stuff, where their pitchers are moving all directions, a lot of velocity. They're executing spots really well. They pitch to scouting reports. At that level, you have to be patient and stick to your approach more than ever and capitalize on their mistakes if they have any, which is unlikely at times." 

Hiura didn't have much trouble adhering to that plan. During his time in the bigs, he clubbed five homers in 64 at-bats while posting a .281 average and a .531 slugging percentage.

The promotion came as a surprise to Hiura. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder expected a callup later in the season, so he was grateful for the opportunity to be up there sooner. The organization told him it would be a temporary move and that when Travis Shaw returned from the injured list, he'd likely return to the Minors. That ultimately proved to be the case. 

"I was just trying to make the most out of all that, being able to enjoy all my time out there," the 2018 Arizona Fall League MVP said.

Since returning from Milwaukee on June 5, the 2017 first-rounder has four multi-hit efforts and four roundtrippers. In Pacific Coast League play this year (45 games), he's batting .331 with a 1.105 OPS to complement his 15 homers and 37 RBIs. 

2019 MiLB include

Hiura wasn't the only Missions player to enjoy a big night at the dish. Fifth-ranked Brewers prospect Mauricio Dubon went 2-for-5 with three RBIs and a run scored. No. 8 Lucas Erceg drilled a three-run homer and finished with four RBIs, while 13th-ranked Troy Stokes Jr. plated a run with a double and scored four times. 

"You can probably ask anyone in the PCL right now, 'What team do you have to be careful with right now?' I guarantee you they say us," Hiura said. "Every player on this team is capable of damaging the baseball and putting up a lot of zeros on the board pitching-wise. I think just that fear that we're capable of being able to put up 10 runs a game and shut you out as well definitely shows you how good of a team this is. Not only are we great, talent-wise, the team camaraderie in the clubhouse and the relationships we have here are really special. I was bummed to come back down but also really excited to play with them." 

Chris Mariscal's solo dinger in the third accounted for Tacoma's lone run.

Sheffield (2-6) allowed eight earned runs on seven hits and a walk, pushing his ERA to 6.87.

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

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