Addison Russell: Buy Or Sell?
5,346 words and the fantasy baseball prospect section of the Lindy’s Fantasy Baseball Annual is complete. Whew! It was fun, but more work than I was expecting — especially since ranking prospects has never been a focus of my writing. It’s really a subjective endeavor. Do you prefer ceiling or floor? A player who’s close or far away from the Major Leagues? In thinking through the ranks, I surprised myself with a number final rankings.
Of course I can’t spill the beans here considering Lindy’s is paying me real money for the work, but Addison Russell is a player whose rankings really surprised.
In an extremely deep shortstop class, is the Athletics prospect a premium target? Or, can you pass on Russell and find similar shortstop value elsewhere?
Early in the 2013 season, Addison Russell struggled in High-A leading many to question whether he was pushed too fast. Coming off a 2012 where he gained a significant amount of helium, it was a disappointment and led to Russell being forgotten.
Then, things clicked. Russell surged, posting OPS’ of .989, 1.049 and .942 over the season’s final three months. His final line — .269/.369/.495 — hid his dominance. Then, Russell continued the good times in the Arizona Fall League with a .282/.361/.435 triple slash line against much older competition.
A couple of things….
I’ve previously written about the California League bloating and inflating numbers to a point where they are worthless. Remember, this is only for college guys and older players. In general, the numbers hold true for players who are young for the level. At 19, one can be bullish on Russell.
Additionally, I’ve posted about the pitfalls of Arizona Fall League numbers. This is also for older players and prospects returning from injury. Russell’s numbers there may also be taken at face value.
For me, the numbers are legit. Plus, the Oakland Athletics have a gaping hole at second base now that Jemile Weeks has collapsed. Jed Lowrie had a great 2013, but can slide over to second base with ease if needed. Russell has a clear path to Oakland when ready.
Combine the level of production and opportunity, and Addison Russell has the potential for a Jose Fernandez-like breakthrough to the Major Leagues. This isn’t to say he’ll be as successful, but Russell joins Byron Buxton as the only two minor leaguers with High-A to MLB credentials. When I sat down to write the Lindy’s piece, the thought hadn’t crossed my mind. Now, I’ll be looking to acquire him in every format and am willing to play a king’s ransom.
4 Feb 2014 / Mike Newman /
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