Name: Addison Russell | Position: Shortstop | Video: Yes
Organization: Oakland Athletics | Current Team: Stockton Ports (High-A)
DOB: January 23, 1994| Age: 19
Height: 6’0″ | Weight: 195
Draft: Round 1, No. 11, 2012| Bonus: $2,625,000 (via Baseball America)
Games Seen: 4 | Date(s): 6/13; 6/15 – 6/16; 8/13
Next Year: Double-A | ML Arrival: 2015
Top Class: ML | Risk: Moderate
Physical/Health: Russell’s story regarding his physical build is well documented and known. After being told he was a third baseman, he dropped significant weight so he could remain at the position he wants to play — shortstop. Currently, the frame is impressive. Strong legs; wide and big shoulders.
Hit: Great hands; quick trigger; bat speed is very good. Had a more simple stance and swing earlier in the year, being more upright with hands high and behind head. Now player has a crouch and open stance. Tweaks support player’s strengths; strong legs give him balance and more power potential. Legs and hands work together in timing and he explodes to the ball with hard swings. Seems more comfortable. Can turn on pitches located middle to inside, and while he isn’t pull conscious, the ability to drive the ball to all fields is significantly better from when I first saw him earlier in the year. A tad overaggressive at the plate and will expand the zone, especially up. Has shown an ability to make in-game adjustments. Future 60 grade hitter.
Power: In my first look, he didn’t have tremendous loft in his swing, but given the great bat speed, I thought he could become a future 55 power player. Having seen him recently, and his new stance at the plate, I’m confident in thinking he’ll hit for above-average power. There’s already the very good bat speed combined, but also his ability to drive the balls to all fields during batting practice and games. The raw power is fun to watch in batting practice, as he can drive the ball over the fence wherever in the ballpark. I saw him hit one probably 440 feet or so (clearing a 420 sign by plenty of room) to left-center. Future 60 grade raw power.
Run: Not a burner by any means, but Russell’s showed a decent second gear and above-average run grades from home-to-first. He’s not necessarily aggressive on the bases as I’ve seen him settle for a double on a play I thought he should have had a triple. However, I don’t think that will hold as the body matures, making me think he’ll become an average runner. Future 50 grade run.
Arm: Russell’s arm strength could play anywhere on the field. The arm is powerful and he has a quicker release when ranging or turning double plays compared to earlier in the year. However, the arm can be a bit erratic, so there’s room to improve. Future 60 grade arm.
Fielding: I wondered if Russell could stick at shortstop in my first look, but now I actually believe he will. He didn’t have the fluidity earlier in the year and it seemed like his mind/body were ahead of his feet. He’s cleaned up the footwork, improved his ability to not only field the ball, but get it into his throwing hand quickly. His hands are so much better all-around it’s hard to believe. Future 55 grade fielding.
Other: The A’s challenged Russell, giving him an assignment to High-A as a 19-year-old . For perspective, the average age of hitters in the California League is 22.9 and average of pitchers is 23.2 years old. While he struggled early in the season, some of it was also due to injury. In fact, the first series I saw Russell, he had just returned from an injury, and sat one game in the series to rest. But he appears to be fine now and hitting his stride, flashing his all-star potential more and more.
Overall: Russell possesses all the makings to become a monster player at the big leagues as he projects to earn average or better grades in all five tools. I believe in the bat and think he can be fine at shortstop, giving me confidence in dropping a role 7 (all-star player) ceiling on him.