Arizona's Justin Upton Fast Becoming a Premier Player

JJ SSenior Writer IApril 14, 2008

I can picture it now.

Justin Upton walks into a restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona, sits down, and before you know it, is mobbed by the patrons of the restaurant.

One naturally offers to buy him a drink, as Upton has been a huge part of Arizona's 9-4 start.

He denies the drink.


Well, it would be illegal.

Yes, until August 25 of this year, Justin Upton cannot legally drink in the United States. But, by the time he's old enough to legally enjoy his first brew, he'll have the reputation of a longtime veteran major-league hitter.

Through 49 at-bats this season, Upton is hitting .388 with five home runs and 12 RBI as Arizona's No. 6 hitter. This is coming off the heels of two home runs, 11 RBI, and a .221 batting average in 140 at-bats with Arizona last year.

Yeah, nothing impressive, but who really expected Upton to perform like a star as a wide-eyed rookie?

Now, with those 140 MLB at-bats under his belt, Upton looks poised to really take off and realize his five-tool potential.

His presence at the plate is undeniably impressive. If a pitcher faced Upton without the knowledge of his age and guessed just based on his plate presence, they would probably guess that he's, oh, maybe 30.

Nope. He's 20.

Maybe it's too early to come out and say that Upton is one of the best hitters in baseball. But, given his pedigree and track record, it may not be all that far-fetched. 

Think of it this way:

If Upton finishes the year with .300/30/100 stats, that's pretty good, right? 

Now, consider this:

If those are his stats, think of the possible improvement once he reaches his prime.

That's scary—at least for the pitchers of the NL West.

Here's a toast to you, Justin. 

Enjoy the Welch's Sparkling Grape Juice.