This is mainly for people in keeper leagues but everyone can participate - reply to this post if you have any information about top prospect B. J. Upton and/or when he will arrive in Tampa Bay.
(Brendan Roberts from TSN told me in an E-Mail that Upton could be brought up before the All-Star Break.)
For some background info on him (for people who don't know him), he's a 19-year old SS in the Devil Rays AAA affiliate and when he reaches the majors, he is supposed to be a Derek Jeter-type offensive player with better speed (40 SB possibility) along with a high average.
Keep the post up towards the front so when he comes, all of us have an edge over our leaguemates at being able to grab a sure keeper who may become great.
May 31 - Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella wants the top prospects from their farm system called up soon, according to the St. Petersburg Times. B.J. Upton (SS) TB would likely lead the way, as he's hitting .354 with Triple-A Durham. "We're going to have to bring our top-gun players up," Piniella said. "Waiting too long would be almost foolish."
I still think mid June.......give him a couple more weeks down there. I also think his power potential is very underrated. I think his numbers in his prime could come close, but not quite, to those of one A-Rod. I thinks he will be a lot better than Jeter.
Movin' on Up: Bossman Junior
May 25, 2004
Tristan H. Cockcroft
Senior Fantasy Writer
Movin' on Up focuses on rookies, recent call-ups and top prospects. Every Tuesday, we provide you with the latest advice and info to help you unearth first-year gems or "keeper" players.
Ladies and gentlemen, the countdown to B.J. Upton's major-league promotion has begun. The 2002 No. 2 overall pick was minutes away from boarding a plane to join the big club in Tampa on May 12, but a last-second call from Devil Rays GM Chuck LaMar rerouted him to Triple-A Durham for the finishing touches on his minor-league seasoning.
According to the Raleigh News & Observer, Upton, 19, received the disappointing call while waiting in the Atlanta airport, as the Rays instead opted to promote Damian Rolls and send Melvin Upton, nicknamed "Bossman Junior" or B.J. for short, to Pennsylvania to join the Durham Bulls.
Is it any surprise LaMar is the subject of constant criticism from Rays fans? Tampa Bay, a team in rebuilding mode, hardly can count on a player like Rolls long-term, and giving a premier prospect like Upton such mixed messages isn't exactly a wise move.
Fortunately, Upton seems unfazed by the change of plans, tearing up the International League in a dozen games. He's batting .375 with five home runs, 11 RBI and three stolen bases, and has logged six multi-hit games in that span. That followed Upton's blazing hot start at Double-A Montgomery -- for the strangely nicknamed Biscuits -- where he batted .327 with two homers, 15 RBI and three steals in 29 games.
Upton's performance should sway LaMar's opinion in the near future, and the smart money has the kid starting at shortstop in Tampa Bay by the All-Star break at the latest. In fact, Upton might already be a major leaguer if it weren't clear he still needs plenty of defensive polish.
B.J. Upton, despite his offensive upside, has committed 70 errors in 171 games as a professional.(Getty Images)
Upton committed a minor-league high 56 errors in 2003, coincidentally the same number Derek Jeter, the man to whom he is most compared, had while with Class A Greensboro in 1993. What's also interesting about that is both Jeter and Upton racked up that high error total while playing the vast majority of their games in the South Atlantic League as 18-year-olds. Jeter did cut that total by more than half the following season, but Upton continues to struggle with the glove, with four errors in 12 games at Durham and 14 in 41 games combined this season.
That's the bad news; the good news is that where Upton's path has gone astray negatively from Jeter's, it has strayed on a positive note from an offensive perspective. Upton seems to be developing more power at a younger age than the Yankee captain, perhaps a result of fierce determination to prove he should have been kept on that flight to Tampa.
At 18 years old -- calculating that number as of opening day in a given season -- Upton and Jeter posted nearly identical minor-league stats, justifying that frequent comparison. At age 19, however, their paths seem more divergent:
B.J. UPTON vs. DEREK JETER
Upton will clearly have to improve his defensive skills with on-the-job training in the majors, which could be a concern based on manager Lou Piniella's desire for solid middle-infield defense. But his increased power numbers suggest he might hit for a slightly lower average than Jeter (traditionally speaking, not his current .190 mark) with 30-homer, 100-RBI potential in his prime. He probably won't adapt to the big leagues as quickly as Jeter, the 1996 AL rookie of the year, but there's upside here in the homer and RBI departments that was never really evident in Jeter's first season.
If Upton is available in your league and you can afford the luxury of stashing him away on reserve for a few more weeks, make the move before it's too late. He's looking far better with the bat than last year's top middle infield prospect, Jose Reyes, did in the minor leagues to begin the season, and Reyes nonetheless got the call last June 10. Reyes went on to hit .307 with five homers, 32 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 69 games, and Upton has the skills to match that with bigger numbers in the power department in the best-case scenario. ...
Last edited by Krunk City King$ on Mon May 31, 2004 5:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
By Chris Kline
May 19, 2004
DURHAM, N.C.--The sun beats down on the field at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, while deep inside the clubhouse, a 19-year-old plays video games to unwind.
This is no ordinary 19-year-old, however. This is a young man on the cusp of the major leagues. And you'd hardly even know it talking to him.
The media requests have appropriately tripled in volume for B.J. Upton since his promotion to Triple-A Durham a week ago. And they are likely to only go up from there when he arrives in Tampa, presumably sometime this season. You can see it in his still boyish face as he sits in front of his locker. It's almost like, "Oh, no . . . not again."
Most of the reporters shuffle in and out, asking him the same questions as the soft-spoken shortstop graciously answers each one without complaining. We'll take you right into the interview session.
What's it like being the top position prospect in the minors?
"I don't even think about any of that. I just want to play everyday, work hard and do everything I can to get better."
How was your month and a half at Double-A Montgomery, wearing the Biscuit uniform? "It actually wasn't bad. The fans there are awesome, even when we weren't playing well. You don't really think about the uniform too much when you're out there, even on the road. At home, we drew like three, four or five (thousand). It was nice."
What did it mean to hit a homer in your home debut for Durham?
"It's just one game. It doesn't mean anything. It's just another game. It doesn't matter if it's at home or wherever."
There are a lot of critics out there about your defense. You led the minors with 56 errors last year and have 13 already this season. What would you say to those critics?
"I can't say anything. It's the truth. It's a fact and there's nothing I can say about it. It's right there on paper and I have to take responsibility for it. It's there and I'm just going to keep working to get better."
You bought three things after signing out of high school--a new house for your parents, a new Cadillac Escalade, and a sprinkler system for your school. Why the sprinkler system?
"We had one for the infield, but they needed one for the outfield, so I did that and bought them new uniforms. It's just something I wanted to do."
Your brother, Justin, will be eligible for next year's draft. Do you guys talk about what he is likely to expect?
"He knows everything I went through. He's seen it. I used to talk to him a lot about it, but he has a pretty good idea of what to expect. We talk more about what I'm going through now. At times, it's just been crazy."
You've only been here a week, but have you noticed any difference between Triple-A and Double-A?
"The pitchers here are a little bit smarter. They make less mistakes and you see fewer pitches you can really drive. When you see one, you have to get it because you probably won't see it again."
What's the hardest thing about playing short?
"I couldn't tell you what the toughest thing is. I have no idea. Sometimes, it's all been tough. It's very demanding. A tough position to play, but I like the challenge of it."
Up to this point, who is the toughest pitcher you've faced?
"I'd have to say (Phillies lefthander) Cole Hamels. He has incredible stuff and his changeup is ridiculous. He'll throw it anytime. And when he's on, he's definitely the toughest I've faced so far."
Do you see yourself as a role model for young fans down the road?
"Am I a role model? Yeah, I am--on the field. And off the field too, I guess. This is the first time I've ever really thought about it. It's not actually anything I've ever sat down and thought about. Get back to me on that one."
Did you have a favorite player growing up? A guy you looked up to?
"Derek Jeter, but I've grown out of that. I still respect everything he's done, but I'm trying to be my own player now."
Should Devil Rays fans have reason to hope for a winning season?
Upton turns to Bulls catcher Pete LaForest, seated next to him. "What would I tell the fans in Tampa Bay, Petey?"
"Are we talking about your arrival?" La Forest asks. "It's coming. Tell them to give us three years to get all the rookies some experience to come up. It's been a long time coming."
"In the words of B.J. Upton--through Pete LaForest," Upton says, laughing. "There you have it. Help is on the way."
Upton's gonna be in town at Richmond late in August if he isn't called up earlier. He's probably my favorite player in the minors now...I'd love to get a chance to meet him. Hopefully he's a September callup and not earlier. Gonna have to hope he struggles a bit.
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