Regular Articles

BJ Upton

Height 6-3; Weight 170 lbs; Bats R; Throws R; Position SS; DOB 08/21/84; Team Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Year Location
AB
HR
RBI
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
2003 Charleston (A)
384
7
46
.302
.394
.445
.839
2003 Orlando (AA)
105
1
16
.276
.376
.381
.757
2004 Montgomery (AA)
104
2
15
.327
.407
.471
.878
2004 Durham (AAA)
256
12
19
.311
.411
.519
.930

When the Tampa Bay Devil Rays selected a shortstop with the second overall pick in the 2002 draft, they went after BJ Upton. Boy, was that a smart move. Still only 19 years old (he turns 20 on the 21st of this month), Upton got the call to the Majors after wasting Triple A pitching.

Scouts have compared him to New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter due to Upton’s speed and nice OBP numbers. He has not developed the power he will show in the Majors just yet, but he will. Scouts believe that Upton could hit second or third in most lineups without embarrassing himself at the plate.

“Offensively he’s done a really nice job here [in Triple A],” says Durham Bulls manager Bill Evers. “He takes a very professional attitude towards the game and comes to the ballpark ready to work.”

One place scouts have doubts about is Upton’s ability to play short. There is no doubt about his range, but questions remain about his ability to field the ball cleanly and then make the throw.

“He’s making good strides defensively and continues to work every day at it,” his former coach continues. He understands that he needs to get better and become more consistent. I think it’s just a matter of learning which hops he can come and get and which he can stay back on.”

This is usually difficult work, especially in the faux grass of Tropicana Field, but once he masters defense completely and develops a little more pop in his bat, Upton should continue to amaze.

Scouts rate Upton as the best Five Tool prospect and position player in the Minor Leagues, but now that he has been called up, that honor will fall on someone else. He seems to be the real deal with plusses in all the categories, but he needs to cut back on his strikeouts just a smidgen, become more consistent defensively, and continue to develop that power before he becomes the superstar is supposed to be.

Welcome to the Show, Mr. Upton!