Despite a good start which included several key home runs, Milwaukee Brewers' highly-touted rookie second baseman Keston Hiura was sent back to the minors on Monday.
The move clears a roster spot for third baseman Travis Shaw, who was activated off the injured list. He was out with a wrist issue.
"We believe that Travis has earned the right to play at the major league level right now," Brewers general manager David Stearns told MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. "And he's healthy. He's gone and done his rehab assignment, and we believe that it's time for him to come back."
Shaw struggled before the wrist injury, hitting .163 with four home runs in 40 games. He went on the injured list, Mike Moustakas shifted over to third base, and Hiura took over at second. Now Shaw is back and Moustakas is returning to third base.
"I think Travis felt, over the first couple of games that he was down there, he was experimenting with some different mechanical techniques," Stearns said. "Probably over the last three or four games, we felt like he got himself into a good spot. But Travis is going to need to perform, and he understands that. He certainly is prepared to, and we feel like he will."
Shaw greeted the news by sharing a Henry Ford quote on Instagram: "Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently."
Realistically, the Brewers had three options with Shaw set to return from the injured list: Demote Hiura, demote Shaw to Class AAA, where he has an option remaining and would not require waivers, or designate Jesus Aguilar--who is out of options--for assignment. Aguilar is hitting .190.
"I think we always have to keep in mind that this is a long season, and preserving organizational depth, preserving options throughout the entirety of the season is something that we think is really important," Stearns said. "It's something that we have focused on over the last couple of years, and it has served us well ... It behooves us to make sure we have as much depth and as much flexibility as possible."
Hiura, 22, hit .281 with five home runs and drove in nine in 17 games with Milwaukee. He hit three home runs in his last five games, including last Saturday's game-tying, two-run shot in the ninth inning off Pittsburgh Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez, who had been perfect in 14 save chances this season.
Hiura connected on a 98-mph fastball and crushed it over the left field wall.
"As soon as I lifted up my leg, I knew something was going to be wrong because he hit it yesterday," Vazquez said after that game. "He hit that one. For me to go back at him, he was waiting on it. ... It was just that pitch. It was supposed to be inside and ended up in the middle."
Hiura has already spent enough time in the minors this season to push his free agency back from the 2024-25 offseason to the 2025-26 offseason.
"I think we saw a player who can really hit," Stearns said. "He has hit throughout his entire life, his amateur career and professional career, and he carried that over to the Major League level. We saw more or less what we expected to see from him."
At 34-26, the Brewers came into Monday with a 1 1/2 -game lead over the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. They went 10-7 with Hiura on the roster.
"I think our fans understand that we're always making decisions," Stearns said. "A lot of them are challenging decisions. We balance a number of different factors in all decisions, and so far in my tenure here, I think our fans have been really understanding of that."
Brewers select Small 28th overall
The Brewers have had success with Mississippi State's Brandon Woodruff in its pitching rotation.
So much so that the Brew Crew came back to the Bulldogs to take junior pitcher Ethan Small with the 28th pick of the MLB Draft.
Small becomes MSU's 15th first round draft pick and the program's first since Brent Rooker in 2017. He is the first Bulldog to be drafted by the Brewers since Daniel Brown in 2016.
Small, the SEC's Pitcher of the Year, has posted a 9-2 record in 16 starts this season with a 1.88 earned run average, 160 strikeouts and only 27 walks over 96 innings of work.
The Lexington, Tennessee native's draft slot carries a value of $2,493,900.