by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We all know the type of prospect Addison Russell is, but he could be moving positions? Bruce Levine recently sent the following Tweet:
“Theo on Shortstops – Told Addison Russsell to get ready to play multiple positions”
With Starlin Castro and Javier Baez also in the organization (at least for now), it makes sense. Reports have Russell getting exposure at second base in the Arizona Fall League, where we saw Baez play late in the year (as well as struggle offensively).
Sam Dykstra of MILB.com (click here for the article) called Russell a “defender with a 55-grade fielding tool and 60-grade arm per MLB.com”. The scale is 0-80, so while solid numbers they also aren’t overly impressive either. It certainly doesn’t rule out a permanent move to 2B in his future, though time will tell.
The 11th overall pick in 2012 and the centerpiece of the trade that sent Jeff Samardzija to Oakland, there is little question about his ability in the batters box. In 258 AB this past season he hit .295 with 13 HR and 45 RBI (as well as 14 doubles and a triple).
Russell showed an ability to make consistent contact, with a 17.1% strikeout rate in 50 games for the Cubs’ Double-A team. With a virtual league average O-Swing% (17.9% vs. 16.1%) and line drive rate (17.1% vs. 17.0%), there’s a lot to like. His .326 BABIP at the stop certainly doesn’t raise red flags and supports his ability to hit for a good average.
He also significantly improved his power stroke, taking his 14.5% HR/OFB from 2013 and boosting it to 23.1% while with Chicago. Couple that type of upside with his ability to hit .280+ from a middle infielder… Now even add an ability to steal bases (21 in 2013)…
Rich Wilson of Prospect 361 recently gave a similar assessment:
“The tools start with premium bat speed that should allow him to produce 20 to 25 home runs once he acclimates himself to the big leagues. He also has an advanced approach at the plate and while there is some swing and miss in his game, he also has very good plate discipline and together, he should post a .280 plus batting average with a .360 plus on-base percentage. Throw in the ability to steal double-digit stolen bases and you quickly see what all the fuss is about with Russell.”
Whether it’s at shortstop or second base, Russell is shaping up like a must own fantasy target. The question is going to be where he plays and when an opportunity ultimately presents itself, but he’s going to debut in 2015 (and the questions could get sorted out over the offseason, depending on what Chicago does).
He’s going to be worth stashing in all formats, especially as a later round flier, and is a name to watch all offseason. The Cubs figure to be busy and what they do will ultimately determine how quickly we may see him.
Sources – Minor League Central, MILB.com, Prospect 361