Today I highlight Washington Nationals prospect Armond Upshaw, a centerfielder for the Auburn Doubledays (Class-A Short).
Previously I posted an article that introduced readers to several players from the Georgia Baseball and Softball Academy’s Triton Rays travel program. I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with DJ Neal of the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays (Toronto) and recently I had the pleasure of a conversation with Upshaw.
As of today (7/13), Upshaw is slashing .134/ .318/ .179 with 2 RBI, 2 extra-base hits and 13 walks in 18 games for the Doubledays. He has stolen 4 bases in 7 attempts. The National’s organization likes Upshaw’s speed both on the bases and in the field defensively and I am certain that factored into the team selecting him in the 11th round of the 2016 MLB Draft.
Here is our conversation:
When did you first realize that you had a chance to play professionally? “I think I first realized my senior year of high school when I began to get draft questionnaires and a few scouts started talking to me.”
Is there an aspect of pro ball that you didn’t expect? “I think I had a pretty good idea of everything esp(ecially) with having guys like Cedric Mullins (Class-AA Bowie Baysox, Baltimore) and Mason Davis (Class-A High Jupiter Hammerheads, Miami) already going through the process.”
What is the difference between the Gulf Coast League and Short Season A ball? “I think the biggest difference is actually playing in a stadium with fans. Also playing night games versus waking up early and playing at noon. Also you see more mature pitching and guys able to throw more pitches for strikes.”
What adjustments, if any, are you making in your game? “Just mainly trying not to miss my fastball when I get it and defensively I play deeper than I did in the GCL because guys are stronger.”
How did playing for @GBSARays prepare you for all of this? “It did a great deal of preparation, being able to play with guys of pro caliber in travel ball. It was very competitive, we challenged each other every day and it helped bring the best out of everyone one the team.”
Who had had the biggest influence in your life? “Definitely my parents, they pushed and believed in me like no other, even when I didn’t myself.”
Is there anyone on the Doubledays who has taken you under their wing as it were and is mentoring you? “My hitting coach Mark Harris, who has coached newly switch hitters like Billy Burns (Kansas City), works with me everyday and also our hitting coordinator Troy Gingrich. Also my manger Jared Head knows a lot about the game (and) he feeds me information.”
How do you balance the game and the business of the game? “I just go out and try to control the things I can which are effort and intent.”
Is there anything you would have done differently in your career so far? “I’m a firm believer in everything happens for a reason. I may have (taken) a more difficult route but it’s made me the player and person I am today.”
I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Armond Upshaw and the glimpse into life as a professional baseball player. I want to thank this young man for taking the time to answer my questions and I wish him nothing but future success. I will say that based on my conversations with both Upshaw and DJ Neal, The Georgia Baseball and Softball Academy is living up to it’s stated mission: Educating, motivating, and inspiring young athletes to build foundations for success on and off the field. Those two young men, as well as Cedric Mullins, are certainly the embodiment of that mission. GBSA is doing wonderful work.