Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
With the 11th pick of the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft the Oakland A’s surprised many when they selected Addison Russell out of Pace High School in Florida. Russell had received over a dozen awards in high school and had been chosen to play for the USA in the U18 Pan-Am games, but one of the first reports discussed during the draft by the many critics questioned Russell’s ability to play shortstop. They discussed the problems and mentioned how Russell had shed weight to prove shortstop would be his true position.
Since then, it’s been an afterthought. Russell had a monstrous 2012 season that started in Arizona playing for the Arizona League A’s, then he went to the Vermont Lake Monsters and finished with the Burlington Bees. Russell finished the season hitting a colossal .369 in 244 plate appearances with the teams combined.
Oakland then put Russell on their 2013 Spring Training big league roster, making him the youngest of any player on any Spring Training organization’s roster, and he proved he could hang with the big dogs as he batted .250 in six games against major league caliber players. Russell, though, would be sent to Oakland’s high-A affiliate to continue to season his game.
After starting off slow, Russell has been on a tear lately with the Stockton Ports, hitting an impressive .333 in June, a phenomenal .344 in July and a solid .297 average for August. He is batting .277 with 17 home runs and 58 runs batted in so far on the year. Russell’s glove has also been a deciding factor in critiques.
Russell was just declared California League Rookie of the Year and named to the California League Post Season All-Star team this week.
With more seasons under his belt, Russell should only continue to improve, which has led many to consider him a five-tool player. However, with Jed Lowrie doing an above average job at the shortstop position for Oakland this season and Russell being so young, it’s obvious the organization’s top prospect won’t have to be rushed to the majors, but fans can enjoy the fact that the A’s have an almost certain star in the making.