Taking a new assignment in stride

Hitting standout Keston Hiura is back in San Antonio

(Reynaldo Holguin )

By Jerry Briggs / San Antonio Missions | June 12, 2019 7:35 PM

Missions infielder Keston Hiura on Wednesday discussed the "truly special" feeling of making his first appearance in the major leagues last month with the Milwaukee Brewers.

But the 22-year-old Californian said he knew at the time that it was only a temporary assignment as veteran Travis Shaw rehabilitated a wrist injury.

Now, Hiura said, it's back to the business of winning games with his teammates in Triple-A.

"This team has been doing really well this year, and we're going to continue doing well the rest of the season," he said. "I mean, it's fun playing with these guys. We're having a good time and we're going to continue (having fun)."

Hiura, rated as the Brewers' top minor league prospect, made his comments on the eve of the Missions' first game in a three-game series against the Tacoma Rainiers.

The Missions will play three against Tacoma and then four against the Reno Aces on a seven-game homestand.

Hiura, who excited the fans with his home-run power in a 17-game stay in the majors, seemingly is taking his reassignment from Milwaukee to San Antonio in stride.

"When I got called up, you know, they said it was kind of like a temporary thing," he said, "(that) Shaw was going on the IL, and however long it took for him to kind of get back on his feet, start feeling good again, then that would probably be the time.

"That was always in the back of my head," Hiura added. "In a sense, it relaxes you a little bit … you can kind of perform and go play your game and what not and not try to force anything. But they told me it was kind of, like, all in play. As soon as Shaw was ready to come back, he'd be given the opportunity, and I completely expected it."

Since his return to Triple-A and the Pacific Coast League, he's played six road games for Missions manager Rick Sweet. He's hit .320, with two home runs and two doubles. For the season, Hiura is batting .331 with 13 home runs and 31 RBI in 43 games.

Sweet said "nothing's changed" with Hiura, a 2017 first-round draft pick out of Cal-Irvine.

"He's still swinging the bat well," Sweet said. "He's got less than 100 games on the dirt (playing infield). So, he needs to play. He needs to play every day and he needs to get as much work as he can on the dirt, around the bag, and that's why he's here.

"We all know he can hit. He's going to hit. He's going to hit wherever he's at. But we've got to continue to improve, continue to work, wherever he is."

Sweet said Hiura has been "fine" with the idea that he has been sent back to the minors.

"This is just part of the game," Sweet said. "When I told him he was going up, the next line was it's probably going to be for a short time. We told him up front what was going to happen. So, it should not have come as a surprise.

"Like I say, it was a great experience for him. He knows he can play up there now. (He's) just got to continue to improve his defense."

The Brewers hardly missed a beat in Hiura's time in the major leagues.

They posted a 10-7 record in his two-plus weeks. He hit .281 with five home runs and nine RBI. On the slash line, indicating batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage, he produced a .281/.333/.531.

Hiura 22, recalled the "crazy" feeling of being told that he was going up while the Missions were on a road trip to New Orleans.

"It was crazy," he said. "Getting the call in New Orleans and flying out to Philadelphia early in the morning, the next day it was definitely (crazy), a lot of things happening so fast, all at once. But, I mean, it was all worth it. Having my hitting coach there. My parents. My agents all there.

"It was a truly special day and weekend. I definitely enjoyed it."

Asked if he exceeded even his own expectations on performance, Hiura said he tries not to put expectations on himself.

"Whether it's spring (training), here (in Triple A), or in the big leagues it's more…go out there and kind of do my thing," Hiura said. "Play the game that I've always played as long as I can remember. You know, the only thing you can control is your attitude and effort.

"As you move up, that's what you really take pride in. That you're really proud of at the end of the day."

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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