FIRST SCOUTED by
major league clubs at age 13, in the bigs by 19 and a .357 postseason hitter at
20, Upton is a young man in a hurry. "He was a 14-year-old kid at the Area
Code Games," recalls Nationals assistant general manager Mike Rizzo,
referring to the summer showcase for the nation's top high school players,
generally seniors, "and he stood out."
Speed and power
define Upton's game. Watching him run out a triple is as exciting as seeing
Devin Hester return a kickoff, and he strikes the ball with terrifying force.
After he whacked a low screamer over the centerfield fence against the Royals
this spring, Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin swore that he had seen the second
baseman leap for it. Given his rare combination of skills, his status as the
No. 1 draft pick in 2005 and his arrival in the big leagues as a teenager last
season, it's not surprising that Upton has inspired comparisons with a young
Ken Griffey Jr., who at 20 batted .300 and was an All-Star. Neither of those
thresholds are out of reach for the 6' 3", 205-pound Arizona rightfielder
the younger brother of Rays centerfielder B.J. Upton, could very well join
Griffey and Alex Rodriguez as the only players in the past 30 years to hit 20
homers at age 20. His speed also makes him an excellent candidate to become
only the second 20-home-run, 20-stolen-base, 20-year-old player in major league
history. ( Vada Pinson pulled off that feat for the 1959 Reds.) Fast company for
a kid who has played just 43 games in the bigs.