The Brewers announced on Wednesday that they’ve signed their first-round pick, UC Irvine second baseman/outfielder Keston Hiura. According to MLB.com’s Jim Callis (on Twitter), he’ll receive a bonus of $4MM, which comes in a bit south of the $4.57MM slot value of the No. 9 overall selection. Tom Hadricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweets that Hiura will likely head to the team’s Spring Training facility in Arizona before eventually joining Milwaukee’s Class-A affiliate in the Midwest League.
Hiura, who will turn 21 in August, was considered one of the best college bats in the draft and has drawn immense praise for his plus bat speed, hit tool and power. He ranked 14th on Baseball America’s top 500 list, 15th on the top 100 of Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen, 19th per ESPN’s Keith Law and 22nd in the draft per Callis and colleague Jonathan Mayo.
Hiura might’ve gone higher in the draft, but an elbow injury prevented him from throwing all season long, limiting him to DH. He’s already seen Dr. Neal ElAttrache for the issue, per Longenhagen. Callis and Mayo write that some scouts believe he’ll eventually require Tommy John surgery, and BA’s report concludes by stating that many believe he’s headed for some form of elbow procedure as soon as he signs. (An assignment to the team’s Class-A affiliate, of course, would run counter to that belief.)
Because of the elbow issue, there’s no clear consensus on where Hiura will profile defensively in the long run. MLB.com’s report on him notes that Hiura’s footwork in the infield is questionable and needs some work, while the injury to his throwing arm obviously casts some level of uncertainty when it comes to whether he’ll be able to handle center field. He’s also played left field in college, and he could potentially profile at any of the three positions if things break right for him and the Brewers. While all of the linked scouting reports express some degree of concern about his defense, the common consensus is that Hiura has a very good chance to hit wherever he plays.