Our Minor is a Major

Since his selection during the 2005 amateur draft; Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton has been a marked man. Upon signing his first contract the expectations for Upton began. As the number one overall pick in the draft he may as well have been playing with a target around his neck. No matter where he went or what team he played on; he was the center of a lot of attention. That is a substantial amount of pressure to place on a kid who just months before was worrying whether he had gotten a passing grade on his high school math exam or who he would be taking to his Senior Prom. The pressure did not seem to affect him much though as he set about learning a new position and adjusting to wooden bats.


Upton was assigned to Single-A South Bend to begin his career. This is quite a step for a high school draft pick. He leaped over short season Missoula and Yakima heading to the pitcher-friendly Midwestern League. Considering the challenge and the age difference between Upton and others at this level he did fairly well posting a .264 batting average with 12 home runs and 66 RBI. These were good numbers considering it was his first year as a professional and he was moving from shortstop to the outfield. Nonetheless many thought his first year was a disappointment; many but not all. The Diamondbacks remained very high on Upton and invited the youngster to Major League spring training this season. Upton impressed everyone with his approach to the game. Faithful Diamondbacks fans got a glimpse of the future at the last spring training game at Chase Field. There Upton his a grand slam to win the game against the San Diego Padres.

Justin Upton began his second professional season at Advanced Single-A Visalia of the California League. His stay with the Visalia Oaks was relatively short as Upton played in just 32 games. In that brief time he hit .341 with 5 home runs and 9 stolen bases. It was clear that Justin was more advanced than his peers and needed more of a challenge. The Arizona Diamondbacks responded by moving him to Double-A Mobile. Upton played 71 games this season at this level hitting .309 with 13 home runs and 53 RBI. His performance and more importantly his character opened a lot of eyes and the Diamondbacks front office came to the conclusion that the player of the future was prepared to be the outfielder of the present. On August 2, Justin Upton made his major league debut. He is now in the process of adjusting to life in the major leagues and looks to be getting comfortable fairly quickly.

Today the USA Today newspaper validated the Diamondbacks confidence in the young outfielder. The paper named Justin Upton Minor League Player of the Year. This is the first time an Arizona Diamondback player has won this award. While many young players may let this type of attention go to his head; Upton seems to be well grounded and capable of handling the pressures of being a cornerstone outfielder for an up and coming play-off team.


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