The Chicago Cubs knew they were acquiring a potential superstar when got Addison Russell from the Oakland Athletics and so far the kid has lived up to the hype. Russell, 20, has been dominating AA pitching and entering play yesterday he is hitting .308 with eight home runs and 19 RBI’s in 31 games for the Tennessee Smokies. Now that Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara are already in the big leagues and Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant are knocking on the door many fans are starting to ask, “How far away is Addison Russell?”
Addison Russell’s talent indicates the he could follow a similar path to the big leagues as Javier Baez. Obviously, Russell doesn’t have the same power that Baez has but he has shown a very mature presence at the plate over the course of his three minor league seasons.
RK, A-, A
(stats per baseball-reference.com)
Addison Russell’s career on base percentage (.386) is 84 points higher than his career batting average (.302), for comparison, in the major leagues players average about 60 points difference, year in and year out. In addition to his plate discipline, Russell has also shown the ability to shoot the gaps as well, slugging .524 for his career thanks to 47 doubles and 20 triples over the last three seasons.
As impressive as his offensive numbers are, it may be Russell’s defense that ultimately gets him to the big leagues the fastest (similar to Jose Iglesias, BOS/DET). There has been debate over who will play shortstop for the Cubs in the next couple of seasons; Arismendy Alcantara was ruled out two years ago and made the switch to second base and now to centerfield and Javier Baez transitioned to second base this season, leaving only Russell and Starlin Castro to fight for the position. And in all honesty, Castro doesn’t have a shot. At 20 years old, Russell already plays like a big league shortstop and has posted an insane .992 fielding percentage in 28 games at shortstop for the Tennessee Smokies. He has made just one error in 131 chances since the blockbuster trade that landed him in the Cubs’ farm system and he made just two errors before, giving him a .985 fielding percentage in 2014. To be fair, Starlin Castro’s defense and consistency are much improved, but Addison Russell is a major league defender will not be moved for Castro’s sake.
That being said, will Castro move to third? Will Castro be traded? ect. All are valid questions and could end up impacting Russell’s arrival date but those are topics for another day. Assuming the logjam gets resolved, one way or another, expect Addison Russell to make his major league debut in late 2015. Conservatively, we say September, but he could earn a mid-season call-up like Javier Baez did if warranted.
Next year will be a big year for the Cubs’ prospects as so many are getting closer to making their big league debuts and Addison Russell is at the top of the list.
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