Perhaps even more surprising than the fast start of the Arizona Diamondbacks this year is the emergence of their 20-year-old right fielder, Justin Upton, as an offensive force.
Through Saturday the first overall pick from the 2005 draft is tied for the National League lead with five home runs and is batting .415.
Given Upton’s performance at the big league level in 2007, his early offensive output is something of a surprise.
Shuttled quickly from A to AA last year and then to the Diamondbacks, Upton looked completely outmatched by big league pitching, batting just .221 with 37 strikeouts in 140 at-bats. He was equally ineffective at the plate during last year’s playoffs.
Upton still has some issues to address if he’s to become the five-tool player that everyone expects. He needs to be more selective at the plate, having drawn only four walks in 41 at-bats while striking out 11 times. Despite possessing blazing speed, he’s only stolen two bases during his brief big league career.
But given his hot start to the 2008 season, there doesn’t seem to be anything to prevent him from developing into a consistent .300 hitter with 30-30 potential.
If he stays healthy, he has the makings of a perennial All-Star for the next two decades.