WTNYAugust 02, 2004
News Flash (not really)
By Bryan Smith

B.J. Upton, the consensus top prospect in baseball, has been summoned to the Major Leagues. The full story is here at ESPN, with lots of quotes from Upton and Lou Piniella.

It appears Upton's first games will come as a designated hitter, likely the Devil Rays ploy to not show Tampa his only weakness: defese. After that stretch, Julio Lugo will move to second base, with Upton taking his everyday spot at short. Lugo didn't seem thrilled with the prospect of switching positions, saying, "I can't control whatever they do."

The story says that Chuck Lamar is interested in re-signing the 28-year-old Lugo to a contract extension. A little overlooked this season, Lugo has been solid this season at .280/.344/.414, especially thriving in the two-hole. Not seen in this story is that Lamar is also looking to sign Upton to an unprecedented nine-year contract, buying out both his auto-renewal and arbitration years. I like the thought, especially since Lamar is obviously trying to establish good relations with the best player he's ever been around.

Back to the main point of this post, Upton's debut should be televised today on ESPN at 7:15. It comes against the Boston Red Sox, and more specificially Tim Wakefield, who had a 3.75 ERA in July.

Update: Upton is indeed playing DH tonight, and is in the ninth spot in the order. First and last? Probably.

Update 2: First AB: 4-3. Upton swings through two knuckleballs to start his Major League career, both of which seemed a bit long. After watching the third pitch go by, Upton smokes a 71 mph knuckler to second base.

Update 3: Walk. Wakefield throws four pitches, each right around the zone. Upton showed some nice plate discipline, a trait that's been present throughout his minor league career.

Update 4: Carl Crawford singles to right field, and Upton flies to third base. Rocco Baldelli then hit a ball that Bill Mueller backhanded, giving Upton enough time to score his first Major League run.

Update 5: B.J. Upton's first hit came on the tenth pitch he saw as a Major Leaguer, a 68 mph knuckleball from Tim Wakefield. Upton took the ball the other way, smoking it between Bill Mueller and Dave McCarty on the right side. Carl Crawford promptly hit into a fielder's choice, ending Upton's bid for a second run.

Update 6: Upton strikes out against Keith Foulke to end the game. It took all of five pitches before Foulke got Upton swinging on an 81 mph change up low in the zone.

Final Upton Debut Stats: 1/3, BB, R, K, 3.75 P/PA


Wakefield and then Foulke? Man, tough assignment for his first MLB game. Given what Upton said about Cole Hamels and his changeup, it's no surprise Foulke got the better of him.

I know, and it doesn't get any easier tonight with Mr. Schilling on the mound. Wednesday will probably be the game to watch, as we finally get to see him face a weaker pitcher...Bronson Arroyo.

It does seem kinda sadistic to start Upton against the Sox.

I mean, the Rays were playing my beloved Jays just the day before. If you're going to call him up, why not do it before the weekend so he can at least feast against the Toronto bullpen?