If I wrote up another old and boring player, Grey was going to make me pass out Razzball lollipops to all the senior citizens in Los Angeles. Young and exciting. Got it. Young and exciting. Scrolling through the NFBC ADP from January 1st to February 19th and……Got it. Keston Hiura of the Milwaukee Brewers. He’s 23 years old. Check. But is he exciting? Well, he only hit 19 home runs and stole 9 bases in 348 plate appearances last season. And he’s being drafted as the 43rd overall player right now. The peoples are definitely excited. He’s Asian, so you know I’m excited, but will drafting him this season bring oohs and aahhs, or will it end up being a tragic flaw?

The first thing that jumped out to me when looking at Hiura was the 30.7% strikeout rate. I hate high strikeout players, but I’ve been coming around to them more recently because of the high upside many of them exhibit. That’s evident with Hiura, as the ISO was .268, and he straight mashed the ball. According to the Statcast data from last season, Hiura had an exit velocity of 91.4 mph and a hard hit rate of 50%! The exit velocity was good for 25th in all of baseball, while the hard hit rate was 7th! No wonder peoples are going goo goo gaga, not for Coco Puffs, but for Keston Hiura.

As I dug deeper, though, I began to get concerned.

First, the BABIP was .402 last season. While he did have an elevated BABIP throughout his minor league career, .400 is kind of ridiculous. It’s not impossible that he maintains that level, but there were only four players that had a BABIP over .360 last season: Trevor Story (.361), Bryan Reynolds (.387), Tim Anderson (.399), and Yoan Moncada (.406). Some regression to the downside should be expected. Steamer has Hiura down for a .330 BABIP this season.

The plate discipline numbers, though, are the scariest. 17.5% swinging strike rate, 76% contact in the zone, and 65% contact in general. The swinging strike rate would have placed him as the second-worst in all of baseball. I was going to put a TRASH label on Hiura, until I saw that Javier Baez had a 18.4% swinging strike rate. The contact rates were similar to Hiura and his chase rate was much higher than Hiura’s. Hmmmm, this is an avenue that needs to be explored more.

When Baez first made it to the bigs, the strikeout rate was 41.5% and he hit .169 in 229 plate appearances. The following season, he improved the strikeout rate to 30% and ended up hitting .289 in 80 plate appearances. When he finally started to get more regular playing time, the strikeout rate fluctuated between 24% and 28% while the batting average was in the .270 to .290 range. Not bad. The BABIP was in the .340 range while he hit 14, 23, 34, and 29 home runs over the span of four seasons. The launch angle and exit velocity numbers were never as robust as Hiura’s, though. I’m getting more bullish by the minute now.

Now, to be fair, Statcast also has Rougned Odor as a player comp to Hiura. Odor had a peak of 33 home runs and 14 stolen bases while batting .271 back in 2016. He also hit .205 last season with a 30.6% strikeout rate while hitting 30 home runs and stealing 11 bases.

I’ll be honest. I wanted to put Hiura into the Odor camp, but then I utilized the few remaining brain cells I have left. Hiura was a phenomenal hitter in high school, college, and the minors. There’s a reason why he was selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2017 MLB draft and was considered the top prospect in the Brewers organization. Could there be an adjustment period? Definitely. Do I have confidence that Hiura can make the necessary changes? For sure. When Javier Baez entered the majors, I faded him all the time, but seeing how he’s developed and observing how his hitting profile has translated has given me much optimism for the prospects of Hiura. The two have similar profiles but Hiura seems like a better hitter to me. Time shall tell. TREASURE

 
  1. Coolwhip

    Coolwhip says:
    (link)

    I’m Hiura for this! Shoot it right into my veins.

    • Son says:
      (link)

      Lol!

  2. galica says:
    (link)

    Son!!!!!

    Wow! Great write-up!

    a. This one had be riveted to my seat right until the very end. My first reaction was ‘Damn, putting down an Asian is no bueno but it’s kind of like when my black friends could use the N word among themselves but as soon as I said it among them and to them they were like ‘Nope, don’t say it. Only we can say it.’ So I get it, fine.

    b. Am gonna love Hiura man! 43? Me likey.

    Cheers,
    Ante

    • Son says:
      (link)

      Ha! Thanks, Ante!

      I actually changed my mind in the middle of writing it.

      • galica says:
        (link)

        Son!

        It reads like a who dunnit and it’s what keeps me coming back, man! Never change (if indeed that was your intent) or always change (if that was your intent!). Like the Yuli article I had to re-read it to understand that you’re not really a fan at 150 for Yuli (and now with the Astrogate scrutiny it could be worse in ’20 for Yuli).

        Cheers,
        Ante

        • Son says:
          (link)

          Lol! I’m glad you enjoy reading, Ante! I enjoy writing

  3. TC says:
    (link)

    I have him as a 19th round keeper. No 43rd pick needed here!!

    • Son says:
      (link)

      Well done, sir. Well done

    • Matt Pitre says:
      (link)

      Wow. I’m gonna try to get Hiura too.
      Keeping Trout -Machado -Soto
      & Flaherty-Corbin-Soroka

      • Son says:
        (link)

        That’s a delicious looking keeper core

  4. johnnyhobbes says:
    (link)

    Hey son, thank you for writing this., i have been at odds with myself over my keeper dilemma this season, especially since Grey gave us his top 21 over all. Hiura over Matt Olson for a points league keeper? (just for this season)

    • Son says:
      (link)

      Depends on your scoring system, but Olson in standard points leagues

  5. Zeus says:
    (link)

    The k’s scare me. 43rd overall is a lot to pay for someone with a fairly low floor. Reminds me of when Lawrie was being taken so high.

    I am going to let you have him

    • Son says:
      (link)

      They scared me as well….initially.

      As for the Lawrie comp, totally different players

  6. Grey

    Grey says:
    (link)

    After David Peralta, Daniel Murphy and Martin Maldonado, I thought for sure you were going to hate a guy as sexy as Keston, happy to be wrong!

    • Son says:
      (link)

      I tried, Grey. I was all full of hate and vitriol, but the data was too compelling.

      • Grey

        Grey says:
        (link)

        Who’s your data?!

        • Son says:
          (link)

          The Japanese guy and Chinese woman that sell me dumplings and tea around the corner. Hey….now that I think about it, his name is Hiura-san

          • Grey

            Grey says:
            (link)

            Come to the east side, we have a lovely little woman who sells dumplings out of my closet

            • Son says:
              (link)

              I need to know which closet

              • Grey

                Grey says:
                (link)

                That’s why you have to come visit

                • Son says:
                  (link)

                  ITS A TRAP!!!

                  There’s a Chinese movie where a serial killer uses human meat for their dumplings. A smashing success, as people enjoyed the unique taste

                  I ain’t gonna be no ones dumpling meat!!!

                  • Grey

                    Grey says:
                    (link)

                    Damn, was trying to lure you into my closet so you could be the dumpling lady — she quit on me!

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
                      (link)

                      My bad then, geez

                    • Son says:
                      (link)

                      Lol! Plus, I don’t think you’d really want me over there anyways. Did you forget what Koreans eat?

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
                      (link)

                      Already considered, will send Ted out with his buddies for the afternoon

                    • Son says:
                      (link)

                      If you see me biking around your hood with a leash, collar, and tongs, it wasn’t me

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
                      (link)

                      Stop looking at pics of Ted and licking your lips you weirdo

                    • Son says:
                      (link)

                      Just went and bought a bag of dog treats. The expensive ones

  7. clydetheglide says:
    (link)

    Hiura or Soler if you can only keep one?

    • Son says:
      (link)

      Price agnostic?

      • clydetheglide says:
        (link)

        Hiura costs me $11 and Soler costs $10 out of a $260 budget

        • Son says:
          (link)

          Hiura

  8. Harley Earl says:
    (link)

    Glad to see you come to your senses. I’d have lost all respect had you called him TRASH. Dude can hit. Yes, there will be some slumps, some peaks and some valleys. But in the end, the kid will adjust and keep on hitting. Good call.

    • Son says:
      (link)

      Thanks, Harley! I’m just glad to know that I had your respect to begin with

      • Harley Earl says:
        (link)

        Oh you definitely have my respect. You write some good stuff! When I read your headline and the intro to the Hiura piece, I was like “What the F” … then I got to the meat of the piece and it made more sense. Definitely glad to see your conclusion.

        Keep up the good work. I enjoy this feature quite a bit, so looking forward to your next one!

        • Son says:
          (link)

          Thanks, Harley! Much appreciated and thanks for reading

  9. Sweet Panther says:
    (link)

    Son, this is most relevant to my predicament.

    In a yahoo 6×6 (OPS & holds) roto keeper league;

    Do I keep:

    Hiura rd 13
    Edman rd 13
    Whit Merrifield rd 11
    Machado rd 5

    I have as keepers; Soto, Bryce, Gary Sanchez, Tatis Jr, Corbin, Clevinger and Sale

    • Sweet Panther says:
      (link)

      I can keep only one of those 4 dudes listed, to be clearer……and it’s a 13 team league with 25 roster slots

      • Son says:
        (link)

        Hiura

        • Sweet Panther says:
          (link)

          ?

  10. Sweet Panther says:
    (link)

    That’s supposed to be a thumbs up, thx Son

    • Son says:
      (link)

      Lol. Anytime, SP!

  11. Darren says:
    (link)

    Great article! I have been trying to talk myself out of picking Keston based on the Ks and BABIP. His credentials are pretty outstanding, but I just traded Odor for much of the same reason. (and the obscenely low BA…)
    Anyway, my friend and I are discussing who will be the better of two young second basemen… Lux or Hiura…
    He mentioned a guy that had the 50% hard hit rate, a guy called Edgar. Anyway, it is looking like I may need to choose between the two for my hole at second, currently Yolmer Sanchez with Franklin Barreto as a backup…
    Which way would you go if you had to choose between the Lux and Hiura?

    Thank you, in advance, for sharing your insights!
    Darren

    • Son says:
      (link)

      Thanks, Darren!

      I like Lux a lot and I usually side with the Lux profile, but I’m going with Hiura here. The exit velocity is insane for Hiura, hits in a better park, better batting order, and probably has more pop.

Comments are closed.