I awoke this morning to a newly-minted Mock Draft (4.5) from Baseball America which claimed to feature a brand-new #1 overall selection for the Twins. Scrolling down to see if this affected the A's selection at #6, I found that it had absolutely no effect at all. Instead, a new name appeared for the A's -- one in which I hadn't originally considered and one few expected to arrive so early on the draft board, but one that screamed, "Oakland A!" right off the bat. Not only did I convince myself that Keston Hiura might be a wild-card selection worth the risk, but something tells me based on just how many prospects the A's are working out that they're not entirely sold on anyone that projects to the #6 slot. Maybe Keston Hiura is the quintessential Athletic in so much as he is not athletic at all and could conceivably be signed at a bargain-bin price due to the fact that there are glove concerns, base-running concerns and most obviously, injury concerns.
Keston Hiura, DH / 2B / LF
UC Irvine, Junior
DOB: 08-02-1996 / Height: 5'11” / Weight: 185
Bats: R Throws: R
2017 Stats: .442 / .567 / .693 / 8 HR / 9 SB / 50 BB / 38 K
MLB Scouting Grades:
Hit = 60 / Power = 50 / Run = 50 / Arm = 45 / Field = 45 / Overall = 50
Most mock drafts have Hiura listed as a mid-to-late first round selection: occasionally as high as #5 to Atlanta, but usually between #15 to Houston or as late as #24 to Boston. Boston would be a fairly apropos selection considering how similarly one might project Huira to former Boston first baseman, Kevin Youkilis, who was drafted by the Red Sox in the 8th round of the 2001 MLB Draft. Hiura could be dogged by an elbow injury that requires surgery following the draft, though. According to Baseball America's Top 500, he is ranked #14.
Pros and Cons
There are cons, of course: Hiura hasn't played in the field this season at UC Irvine due to the elbow injury. When he is in the field, one can expect a typical-Oaklandesque skill set that is primarily limited. Like many of incumbent A's, Keston projects out to possess average speed (50), and below-average fielding ability (45), and a below-average arm (45).
What he does do, however, is hit and draw walks. Hiura led the nation with a .442 average and a .567 on-base percentage for the Anteaters. Much like the aforementioned Youkilis, Hiura is short-statured (5'11"), has a compact swing with exceptional bat speed and most importantly, walks at a similarly-prodigous clip.
In Youkilis' senior season at Cincinnati, he walked 59 times in 210 at-bats (0.36 K/BB Ratio) while Hiura nearly matched him with 50 walks in 199 at-bats (0.76 K/BB Ratio). It was Youkilis, the "Greek God of Walks", of course, that was the central figure in one of Michael Lewis' Moneyball chapters as an idyllic choice to espouse Beane's patient philosophies.
Additionally, although Hiura hit just 8 home runs for the Anteaters in 2017 (compared to Youkilis' 18 in his senior season), he did it in the pitcher-friendly Big West Conference where he easily won Field Player of the Year honors while also featuring the nation's best wRC+ (246).
I can't be sure that there's any validity to the latest mock draft provided by Baseball America, but if there is, is anyone in this draft a more quintessential Athletic than Keston Hiura?