SAN DIEGO -- Melvin Upton Jr. added another clip to his already-crowded 2016 highlight reel Wednesday, robbing former teammate Freddie Freeman of a homer with a leaping grab at the wall in the top of the fifth.Upton -- who made a similar play to rob Pittsburgh's Matt Joyce earlier in
SAN DIEGO -- Melvin Upton Jr. added another clip to his already-crowded 2016 highlight reel Wednesday, robbing former teammate Freddie Freeman of a homer with a leaping grab at the wall in the top of the fifth.
Upton -- who made a similar play to rob Pittsburgh's Matt Joyce earlier in the season -- also singled and stole a bag during Wednesday's 4-2 loss to the Braves and reinforced the argument that he's been the Padres' most exciting player in 2016.
Already this year, Upton has stolen home (one of his 14 stolen bases, the fifth most in the Majors). He's thrown out six baserunners from the outfield, while posting a team-leading seven defensive runs saved. And he's hit a pair of walk-off dingers.
"I knew it was hit well," Upton said of the Freeman liner. "It was hot. I was just tracking it, found the wall. Initially I didn't think I was going to jump, but I ended up having to jump, and I caught it."
Freeman fell into an 0-2 hole against Padres starter Drew Pomeranz to open the fifth inning, but got a hittable fastball on the outer half of the plate. He smoked it to the opposite field, and appeared ticketed for his 10th homer of the season.
But Upton backtracked and timed his leap perfectly. As further proof that he's extremely comfortable playing left field at Petco Park, he didn't even take a glance back at the wall before jumping at the precise moment necessary.
"It's about knowing your surroundings," Upton said. "I'm pretty comfortable out there right now."
Before the season began, Padres skipper Andy Green predicted Gold Glove-caliber defense from Upton in left, after he had played exclusively in center field for eight straight seasons.
Thus far, Upton has backed up his manager's projection.
"His athleticism speaks for itself," Green said. "You watch him steal home, you watch him go above the wall to rob a home run, you watch him steal second base today ... he's been great all season long."
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.