Hundreds of players will begin their quest towards the major leagues with the amateur draft tomorrow night. Two of the better high school prospects over the last decade are making impressions with their leather this season and coincidentally both share a blood link. Genealogy aside, Justin Upton and B.J. Upton present two very different sets of skills.
Dave has talked about Justin at depth since the off-season, mostly about his stellar offensive play and ludicrously brief rise to stardom. Upton the Younger has been improved defensively as well, sitting just shy of five total fielding runs. Compare his UZR components from this year to those of previous years and the striking differences are in Upton’s Arm and Error runs. Upton compiled -2.4 ErrR in both of his first two seasons, but has improved to 0.4 this year.
Upton has only been playing right field for a few seasons now, so the increased sure-handiness should probably be expected, although maybe it’s just small sample sizes playing tricks on us. If the improvements are genuine, there’s even more reason to single out Upton as the bright spot of the Diamondbacks offense this season.
Young players changing positions is something that Upton the Elder can relate to. B.J.’s offense heretofore has disappointed, although recently he’s shown signs of awakening. Upton’s defense seemed unaffected by a torn labrum last season and Upton the same defensive prowess. Like Justin, B.J. has improved his rate of errors and is even showing more range.
Everyone knows how this Upton came up a hotshot shortstop with a fondness for overthrowing first basemen. Upton shifted to third and second before finding himself in center and shining. If you watched any of the post-season last year or really any Rays game broadcasted anywhere you’ve undoubtedly heard about how shallow Upton plays. Upton’s UZR/150 currently sits at 13.1, two runs higher than his 2008 total.
Both Uptons were drafted not for their defensive ability, but instead insane offensive potential coming from premium defensive positions. Neither stuck at shortstop along the way, yet still both have became quite talented defenders at their professional positions.