2017 College Draft Profile: Keston Hiura

School: University of California-Irvine; Class: Junior

Position: 2B/CF; B/T: R/R

Height: 5-11; Weight: 190

Previously Drafted: N/A

 

Background: Despite being a bit overlooked coming out of Valencia High School, Hiura, who was not drafted or as heavily recruited when compared to other top prospects, has earned a litany of awards and recognitions. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound infielder/outfielder started making waves as soon as he stepped on campus.

In 56 games for Head Coach Mike Gillespie, the then-true freshman slugged an impressive .330/.392/.520 while leading the squad in doubles (18), triples (2), and RBI (52). He would also finish second with seven homeruns. Louisville Slugger and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association named him to the First Team Freshman All-America. He was voted Big West Freshman Player of the Year and First Team All-Big West. Hiura continued that torrid approach at the plate for the Wenatchee AppleSox in the West Coast League during the summer as well, batting .356/.439/.623 with another 33 extra-base hits (21 doubles, six triples, and six homeruns).

Hiura, more or less, maintained status quo during his sophomore campaign as well: he slugged .358/.436/.539 with 12 doubles, two triples, seven homeruns, and a career high six stolen bases. That production earned him a spot on Team USA that summer as well, where he batted .289/.356/.553.

This season, to put it frankly, Hiura has posted ridiculous offensive numbers: he’s currently slugging .421/.556/.674 with 22 doubles, one triple, eight homeruns, and – just for good measure – nine stolen bases.

For his career, Hiura is sporting an impressive .367/.461/.573 with 52 doubles, five triples, 22 homeruns, and 16 stolen bases (in 28 total attempts).

 

Projection: Consider the following:

  • Between 2011 and 2016, here’s a list of Division I prospects that have batted at least .400/.550/.650 in a season (minimum 250 plate appearances): Justin Miller (SE Louisiana).

If the season ended today, Hiura would be the second name on that list – with the added asterisk that the UC Irvine slugger has faced off against far superior competition.

Offensively, there’s really nothing to not like about Hiura: he succeeded at every stop of his collegiate career; he hits for average; runs a little bit; has solid-average power; and his plate discipline has grown by leaps and bounds during his junior season. After posting a combined 85-to-42 strikeout-to-walk ratio during his first two seasons, he’s currently sporting an impressive 38-to-50 mark through his first 54 games in 2017.

Defensively, well, that’s another story. He simply doesn’t have a set position.

Hiura has seen some action at second base and in center field in the past, but he’s spent the majority of the time at DH this season. The bat, though, will likely play at any position in the outfield and could be an above-average force at second or third bases.

Finally, consider the following comparison:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG ISO SB CS BB% K%
Keston Hiura 758 0.367 0.461 0.573 0.206 16 12 12.14% 16.23%
Ian Happ 718 0.338 0.463 0.552 0.214 56 18 17.83% 16.16%

Happ, the ninth overall pick out of the University of Cincinnati in 2015, put together a similar career triple-slash line, though he walked more frequently and showcased better speed. But if Hiura becomes 90% of Happ, any team that drafts the California native should be pleased.

Expect Hiura to go somewhere between picks 12 and 25 with a peak as a .300/.340/.410-type hitter.

Ceiling: 2.5- to 3.0-win player

Floor:  1.0-win player

Risk: Moderate

Grade: First Round

 

 



About

After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.