Keston Hiura | 2B/OF
Hiura, 20, had a decorated prep career at Valencia High School in Southern California, though he went undrafted in 2014 and followed through on his commitment to UC Irvine. He’s a career .360/.455/.570 hitter with the Anteaters, including .405/.551/.684 with eight homers, 44 walks, and 30 strikeouts in 46 games as a junior this year. Hiura suffered an elbow ligament injury making a throw last season, and it continues to bother him, so much so that he has been limited to DH duty this spring.
Hiura, who is listed at 6-foot-0 and 185 lbs., might be the best pure college hitter in the 2017 draft class. He’s a right-handed hitter with good bat-to-ball ability and bat speed to spare. Hiura projects to hit for both average and power while drawing plenty of walks. Prior to the injury, he played second base in addition to both left and center fields. His range and mobility on the infield is limited, though he has no problem running down balls in the outfield. The consensus seems to be that left field is his most likely defensive home long-term. The problem is scouts haven’t been able to see him in the field at all this year due to the injury.
In their latest rankings, Baseball America ranked Heston as the 20th best prospect in the 2017 draft class. MLB.com ranked him 26th and Keith Law ranked him 32nd. The Yankees hold the 16th pick. There’s little doubt Heston can hit and college bats have a way of moving through the system quickly. The elbow is a major question though — there’s some thought he’ll need Tommy John surgery sooner rather than later — and while the Yankees have rolled the dice on injured players in the past (Andrew Brackman, most notably), it’s been a while since they’ve done that with a high pick.