Austin Upshaw is a name that many Chicago Cubs fans may not know just yet. He was the No. 405 overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. It was a pick that many were not tuned in for, but it’s one that could come back with a big return for the Cubs at some point in the future.
Since joining the Cubs’ system, Upshaw has already been gaining interest from the club. He has moved up rather quickly, being promoted to the South Bend Cubs fairly early. Chicago fans who haven’t paid attention to Upshaw should start looking into the young first baseman as soon as they get the chance.
For those that may not have seen Upshaw play, they will love the passion that he has for the game. Upshaw has a top-notch work ethic and has a great bat.
During his 52 games in South Bend, Upshaw ended up compiling a.290 batting average to go along with two home runs and 29 RBI’s. He walked 14 times while striking out in 31 of his at-bats.
All of that being said, Upshaw was willing to take a few minutes out of his busy schedule for an exclusive interview.
Obviously, the first question was to find out what Upshaw thought of being part of the Cubs’ organization.
Let's just say the ball was waiting on me at third. I'll happily stop at second next time ???? pic.twitter.com/RXR9W69yaW
— Austin Upshaw (@shaw12TE) August 29, 2017
“It has been unbelievable to be a part of such a historic franchise. The players that have come here before me have made the organization what it is today: a successful, family-orientated franchise. I feel like I’ve just been accepted into a big family. I’ve been treated with great respect and kindness during every step!”
While Upshaw is part of the Cubs organization now, he was not a Cubs fan growing up. He talked about who his favorite team was before becoming a part of Chicago.
“Growing up in Georgia, I was always a big Atlanta Braves fan. I got to witness greats like Chipper Jones, Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz, have success year in and year out.”
If you haven’t watched Upshaw play and don’t know what his strengths and weaknesses are right now, he was happy to give a breakdown of what he felt they were.
“My strengths right now are the ability to hit the ball, my baseball IQ, and the mental ability to know that I belong. My weaknesses are probably my defense at positions other than first, speed, and approach at the plate! Definitely something I am working hard on this offseason.”
There is no current player Upshaw would compare himself to, but he did have an excellent answer to that question.
“I really do not have a big leaguer who I would compare myself to in mind. I would say someone who can just flat out hit and provide stable defense wherever he is put.”
— Austin Upshaw (@shaw12TE) July 17, 2017
As for what kind of role he is expecting in 2018, Upshaw said that he has not been told anything by the Cubs organization just yet, but believes a lot of that is up to him.
“The organization did not come out and say exactly where I might be. I feel as though my future is in my own hands. As Nacho Libre once said, ‘I am the gatekeeper of my own destiny.'”
Upshaw was given the opportunity to play with Jason Heyward during a rehab stint in South Bend. He talked about meeting Heyward and also talked about having Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant at the major league level to look up to.
“I was fortunate enough to be able to play with Jason Heyward while in South Bend! It was my first day there and I came in the locker room with all my luggage and it was just me, Jason, and our trainer. I had a brief conversation with him, as well as warming up with him before the game. Technically, we were both new guys that day, so we didn’t have throwing partners! And as for Rizzo and Bryant, it is great to have those kinds of role models in the organization. They are always guys we can all look up to on and off the field.”
Next up was to find out what the process with the Cubs has been like since he was drafted.
“The process has been very enjoyable. With everything being brand new for me, it was like a surprise was waiting for me around every corner. Whether it was signing my contract, playing at Sloan Park (spring training park), or getting the call up to South Bend, everything has been super exciting. I look forward to more surprises waiting on me in the near future.”
Looking ahead at the 2018 season, there are a few goals that Upshaw has already set for himself.
“My goals for the 2018 season are to take strides in different aspects of my game. Whether it is something small like not giving away at-bats, or something big like hitting more extra-base hits. My main goal is just to compete every day, because I know I will be rewarded in the end.”
Finally, Upshaw left a note for the Cubs fans who have supported him. He couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the Cubs’ organization.
“I would like to thank the Cubs fans who have accepted me into the organization. I’ve had several fans pour out their excitement to me on social media. I tried to thank them all and let them know I would give them my best.”
Make sure to follow Austin as he continues his dream while playing for the Chicago Cubs. He has gotten off to a great start in his MLB career, and it will be exciting to see where the future takes him. Follow Austin on Twitter at @shaw12TE.
[Featured Image by Charles Rex Arbogast/AP Images]