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Tampa Bay Rays: Top Five First-Round Draft Picks in History

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 26: B.J. Upton #2 of the Tampa Bay Rays at bat against the Boston Red Sox during the game on September 26, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 26: B.J. Upton #2 of the Tampa Bay Rays at bat against the Boston Red Sox during the game on September 26, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) /
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B.J. Upton of the Tampa Bay Rays (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) /

Tampa Bay Rays 1st Round Draft Pick – B.J. Upton

He may go by Melvin now, but we will always remember him as B.J. Upton. After being selected as the second overall pick in the 2002 draft, B.J. turned his time with the Rays into a hefty contract with the Atlanta Braves.

At the age of 19, Upton made his first appearance in the big leagues, playing in 45 games in the 2004 season. The teenager held his own at the highest level, hitting .258 with a .324 on-base percentage.

He played 50 more games in 2006, then established himself in 2007 by hitting .300/.386/.508 with 24 HRs, 82 RBI, 22 SBs, and scoring 86 runs in just 129 games.

The following season he stole 44 bags, hit 37 doubles, and had 97 walks, helping the Rays to the World Series. On the way there, he tore up the ALDS and the ALCS, hitting seven homers and driving in 15 runs in those 11 games. In his career, he has a .539 slugging percentage in nine postseason series.

He turned his production into a 5-year, $75 million contract with the Braves where he posted a -1.7 rWAR in two seasons before being traded to the Padres. He finished 16.8 rWAR in his career with 15.6 coming with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Upton’s career might have tailed off in Atlanta, but he did manage to put together some decent production for the Padres. He was an above-average hitter with the Padres slashing .257/.313/.435 with 29 steals and 21 homers in 549 at-bats.

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