|© 2007 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.|
D-backs' Upton hopes for big impact02/26/2007 7:05 PM ET
By By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com / MLB.com
Hot topic: Outfielder Justin Upton likely will start the 2007 season at advanced Class A Visalia after spending last season in the Class A Midwest League."We're not going to be afraid to move him [quickly]," manager Bob Melvin said. "That's one of the things we like to do around here is challenge these guys and move them. Last year he was 18 and looked like he was 21. This year he's 19 and he looks like he's 25. That's a man. The way the ball jumps off the bat, he's beyond his years intelligence-wise."
Upton hit .263 last season after being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft. The year presented many challenges to him as he was playing the outfield for the first time and appeared in 113 games, far more than he did as a high schooler.
"They pitched him like he was Babe Ruth," Melvin said of Midwest League pitchers.
Upton was invited to big-league camp last year and instantly made an impression on the coaching staff and his teammates.
"I wasn't sure I was going to get to come this year," Upton said, referring to being a non-roster invite. "I'm just happy to be here."
On the move: Right-hander Micah Owings drew plenty of praise from Melvin during the first week of camp.
Owings had a phenomenal 2006 season, going a combined 16-2 at Double-A and Triple-A. Some scouts think he might be better suited as a reliever because his velocity would increase in that role.
The D-backs, though, for now are going to give him a chance to be a starter and he is a candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation.
Class of '06: The D-backs have yet to reach an agreement with last year's No. 1 pick, Max Scherzer.
The right-hander, who was taken with the 11th overall selection, is the only first rounder who remains unsigned. General manager Josh Byrnes said the D-backs are continuing negotiations with Scherzer's agent, Scott Boras, and may pay a visit to Boras' headquarters in the weeks ahead.
Bugsy: Former big-leaguer Brett Butler spent last season managing Class A Lancaster and will move up this year to Double-A Huntsville. Butler is working during big-league camp with the Arizona baserunners.
What they're saying: We've got talent from one end of this camp to the other, so it was good see everyone out there." -- Melvin
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.