Keston Hiura has been the Milwaukee Brewers’ top prospect since June 12, 2017 — the day he was drafted in the first round of the MLB draft.
Selected ninth overall by Milwaukee, Hiura joined the Brewers organization after posting an astounding .442 batting average and 1.260 OPS as a junior at UC Irvine.
He quickly rose through the minor leagues, and, to the delight of all fans, was called up to the show May 14 and put together a two-hit performance in his debut, a 6-1 win over Philadelphia.
Thirty-one games into his big-league career, he hasn’t stopped hitting.
Hiura connected on his first career homer in his sixth MLB game, mashing the first pitch he saw from Atlanta starter Mike Foltynewicz in the fifth inning of the Brewers’ 3-2 win May 19. Hiura has clobbered another seven dingers in the 25 games since then to boost his rookie total to eight.
Hiura’s eight homers through 31 games played are the most for any rookie in Brewers franchise history. It’s two more than current teammate Ryan Braun hit through his first 31 games during his record-setting first-year campaign in 2007. Braun holds the all-time franchise record with 34 homers as a rookie. Prince Fielder is second with 28 in 2006.
Only nine Brewers rookies have managed to hit 5+ homers in their initial 31 contests.
Among rookies in franchise history with 100+ plate appearances through their first 31 contests, Hiura is second with a .556 slugging percentage (trailing Braun) and ranks fifth with a .299 batting average.
Hiura also comes in at fourth in total hits (35) and ninth in RBI (16).
Infielder Dale Sveum posted a .333 BA through his first 31 games, although he finished the season with a meager .246/.316/.366 slash line.
A couple of highly-touted Brewers rookies took a bit longer to figure things out. Paul Molitor, who finished his freshman season batting .273/.301/.372, had just a .321 on-base percentage through 31 games. Fielder had just two homers in his first 31 games (53 PA).
Only two Brewers players have ever won Rookie of the Year — Braun at age 23 in 2007 and Pat Listach at age 24 in 1992.
Unfortunately for Hiura, he doesn’t have a great chance at taking home the freshman honor due solely to not playing enough games. Barring a record-breaking second half of the season, the hardware will likely go to New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso or Atlanta’s right-handed ace Mike Soroka, who were both named All-Stars earlier this month. Alonso has 30 homers in 92 games, and Soroka owns a 10-1 record, 2.24 ERA and league-best 0.4 HR/9.
That being said, Hiura will undoubtedly be the Brewers’ rookie of the year — and a key piece of Milwaukee’s push for the postseason.