The Atlanta Braves begin the post-Chipper Jones era with tremendous enthusiasm surrounding their revamped outfield featuring the organization’s 2007 first round draft pick Jason Heyward plus the additions of B.J. Upton from the Tampa Bay Rays and his brother Justin from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Upton brothers hold the distinction of being the only siblings ever selected first and second in the MLB Draft. B.J. was selected second in the 2002 draft while Justin was taken first in 2005.
The three outfielders will form an ultra-athletic trio that will make it very difficult for hitters to find space in the Braves outfield. B.J., in particular, also provides a potent threat as a base stealer.
While each has, at times, struggled to live up to lofty expectations, the Braves feel a sense of optimism surrounding the trio which should also bring a strong presence to the batting lineup.
The three also bring the first all-black outfield in the major leagues since 2001 at a time when many, including Braves legend Hank Aaron, have lamented the lack of black players in the league.
“I’m pleased, and I hear people from my area talking about how pleased that they are,” Aaron, a Braves senior vice president, told the Associated Press. “So I’m hoping that they show their appreciation by coming to the ballpark.”
Beyond that, there is plenty of reason for excitement regarding the pure talent level Atlanta now has in their outfield.
“I don’t know anybody that had the combination of speed and power and all of the things these three kids can do,” Aaron observed. “Here again, they’ve got to go out there and prove it.”
Whether the talented trio can “prove it” remains the great question for each of their thus far disappointing careers and for the Braves postseason chances in 2013.