Justin Upton: It Runs in The Family

Just two years after his brother BJ was selected by the Tampa Bat Devil Rays as the second overall pick out of Greenbrier Christian Academy, Justin Upton is causing the same stir his brother did in the spring of 2002.

This Upton attends Great Bridge High School, and ranks as the top high school baseball player in the country. Several major league baseball executives believed that Justin could have been the number one pick in the 2003 draft, as a junior in high school. Many of his peers acknowledge that Upton clearly fits the hype that has been created about him.

"Justin Upton is an outstanding competitor" said Brandon Erbe, a right hand pitcher from McDonogh High School in Baltimore. "I have played with him three times, and he is just an amazing ball player."

"He just has tremendous speed" said Mike Bianucci an infielder from Fairfax, Virginia. "His speed is a huge aspect of his game."

Upton would certainly agree with Bianucci's assessment. When asked to state the strongest aspect of his game, Upton did not hesitate at all before saying his speed.

"My speed is definitely the stronger part of my game" Upton told scout.com. "It just helps me is so many aspects of my game and raises my game to that next level."

Upton also has some luck falling his way as several large market teams had sub-par seasons in 2004, and as a result have the chance to draft Upton early on. The Arizona Diamondbacks hold the number one pick in the 2005 Major League Baseball Draft, while the Seattle Mariners, hold the third overall pick in the draft. Both those teams proved their commitment to return to their original winning ways by giving out some of the largest contracts this off-season to free agents like Richie Sexson, Adrian Beltre and Troy Glaus. In recent years, high school seniors who deserved to go number one overall, would fall because of signability issues, however, with the Diamondbacks holding the first overall pick it might be a win-win situation for both the club and Upton. Upton told scout.com that he is not thinking about that scenario, or anything else pertaining to the June draft, and is concentrating more on his senior season of high school.

"My main focus right now is to win a state championship. As far as the draft is concerned I will take it in the flow. I don't have any expectations about it, and will just wait and see how it plays out. If you start expecting stuff, then that is when you get disappointed."

If Upton does not sign a professional contract, he will be attending college at NC State University. Citing how he liked the atmosphere and felt comfortable at that school, Upton chose North Carolina State, over Florida State and Duke.

Upton, who ranks being named the top high school baseball player the last several years as his biggest athletic accomplishment, credits his family for his success and influencing him to play the sport.

"My whole family has influenced me if different ways" Upton said. "My parents have done everything for me to play the sport, and watching my older brother play has just inspired me to do the things he has done. I have been playing baseball since five years old, and my family kept me going through the ups and downs"

With his offensive game being at its peak, Upton said he is concentrating on the defensive aspect of baseball the most, and that is the one area of concern that emerges when Upton's name is mentioned. Many scouts and executives believe that Upton will be better suited to place center field in professional baseball rather than short stop, the position he currently plays. Upton has been very adamant about the fact that he is a short stop, and will only play short stop, and having a professional club giving their word that he will be given every opportunity to prove himself as a short stop, could go a long way in him signing his first professional contract.

"I want to be a short stop and that's the bottom line" said Upton. "I just want to be a short stop, and don't want to play any other position."

With as much heart and dedication instilled inside him, there is no question that Upton will do everything he can to prove himself a major league caliber of a short stop.

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