Valencia Native Makes Significant Base Shift


Valencia native Keston Hiura is relishing his new challenge, after swapping second base for first with the Milwaukee Brewers for the coming season.

The 24-year-old, who was drafted by the Brewers in 2017 and rated as the Brewer’s top prospect going into 2018, is set to make the shift after his side sealed an agreement with two-time Golden Glove Award winner Kolten Wong, formerly of St. Louis Cardinals.

Hiura, described as a good hitter but who struggles with throws, will now fill the hole at first base for the Brewers, who will be looking to improve on their fourth-place finish in National League Central this season. It might be a big ask, as they are ranked by Bwin Sports as outsiders for this year’s title and behind fellow divisional sides St Louis and Cincinnati, but Hiura will be striving to make something positive happen. It has been two years since they lifted the divisional title and Hiura admits his positional shift is another challenge he will look to rise to, especially if it means adding Wong to the roster.

“It’s going to be different, it’s going to be a challenge, but I’m ready to take it on,” said Hiura. “You put him (Wong) in our lineup and automatically our team is that much better.”

That was a sentiment echoed by Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns, who confirmed both him and Brewers manager Craig Counsell has spoken to Hiura and explained the situation clearly.

“He’s up for this challenge,” Stearns said. “Both Craig and I have spoken to him. We believe he can do this. We believe he can be a very skilled first baseman with his skill set, and he is ready to do what he can.

“This doesn’t completely close Keston off from second base with the right matchups or later in his career. But for now, it fits best with our team at first, and he understands that.”

Hiura needed a new mitt, and as there was no time to break one in ahead of spring training which started recently, he turned to Nestor Corredor, the former Brewers Minor League manager. He was added to the big-league coaching staff as a bullpen catcher this winter. That is another change for Hiura, who has played at middle infield for his whole career and will be used to a much smaller glove.

He will not be without fine coaching to prepare him for the move though, as bench coach Pat Murphy, third base coach Jason Lane and Class A manager Matt Erickson are all set to work closely with him over spring training to get him up to speed for the upcoming season.

The move means the Brewers have had a different man on first base in each of the last 10 seasons, ever since Prince Fielder departed. In that time, Mat Gamel, Alex Gonzalez, Lyle Overbay, Adam Lind, Chris Carter, Eric Thomas, Ryan Braun, Jesus Aguilar and lastly Justin Smoak have all tried to make the position their own and failed.

There is some hope that with Hiura still only being 24 and in the early stages of his big-league career, he could be the solution that Brewers fans have waited a decade for.

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