2017 MLB Draft Profile: 2B/OF Keston Hiura, UC Irvine

Keston Hiura

The next prospect tapped in this MLB Draft profile series is UC Irvine’s Keston Hiura. He’s one of the best hitters available with significant defensive question marks.

Previous profiles:

Vitals
6’0, 185 pounds
Position: Second base/outfield
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
DOB: Aug. 2, 1996

Location
Irvine, Calif.
Year: Junior

Rankings
Baseball America: 14
ESPN: 19
FanGraphs: 17
Hero Sports: 24
MLB.com: 22
Perfect Game: 18
Scouting Baseball: 13

Slot recommended bonus (No. 23): $2,702,700

Editor’s Note: All information of draft prospects compiled from Internet sources, scouting reports and video.

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Hiura has, arguably, the best hit tool of any position player in this draft. Combine that with some power potential and strong plate discipline, and you have one of the best prospects in the draft. So, why might he be there at No. 23? Injury concerns.

Hiura has an elbow injury that has prevented him from playing in the field for the entire season. It might be a UCL issue, which could mean Tommy John surgery. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection (done by Dodgers’ team doctor #DrNealElAttrache) over the winter. Even when he was healthy, he had an average second base/left field profile, which means he won’t provide much value in terms of defense. Sounds an awful lot like Willie Calhoun, no? Hiura projects to be a better defender than Calhoun, but not enough to get excited about.

Where Hiura shines is at the plate. He has great bat-to-ball skills, has a line drive profile and draws a lot of walks. He could be a force offensively, with some untapped power. At the plate, he has a toe-tap and leg kick combination for timing. He has it worked out well because he rarely looks off balance and puts a good swing on the ball. His swing is compact and quick to the ball thanks to strong forearms and quick hands. He can hit the ball from foul pole to foul pole, but most of his power is to the pull side at present (which isn’t a bad thing). He has average speed that gives him good enough range at both second base and left field.

Video

Videos courtesy of rkyosh007, FanGraphs and Prospect Pipeline.

Hiura’s future is definitely dependent on his elbow. He’s one of the youngest draft-eligible college juniors, so even if he has to miss a significant amount of time (if he has TJ), his development will be behind, but not so much that he can’t make up for it. The Dodgers, obviously, aren’t afraid to pop a guy who might need elbow surgery (hi, Walker Buehler). If his arm comes back and he can handle second base, he could be a first-division starter at the position. If he has to move to left field, the bat doesn’t play up as much but he could still be a starter on a playoff team.

Odds are his stock won’t be much higher than it is right now. Even with the concerns about his elbow, he’s still ranked in the Top 25 in all the publications. He’d be a Top 10 pick if he were healthy. So, it’s probably going to take a slot-deal to get him signed. The Dodgers have been linked to him on more than one occasion, so there’s a possibility he’s high on their draft board.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He does contracts and depth charts for FanGraphs and is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a one-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, California, and has yet to be shot.