After playing just 11 games in the Arizona Fall League, Chicago Cubs prospect shortstop Addison Russell will be shut down. No he’s not hurt, the team actually deemed him “perfectly healthy” in an email sent out to reporters.
According to Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago, among others, the organization feels that Russell has played a full season’s worth of baseball, so will send him home for some rest before beginning his offseason condition program. The 20-year-old hit .196 (9-for-46), with a pair of homers during his short stint in the Fall League.
Russell was the prized prospect the Cubs received in their trade with the Oakland Athletics for starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel in early July. The more intriguing thing to take away is that Russell took some reps at second base, which could make things very interesting this winter.
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Prior to the 2014 regular season, the former A’s top-ranked talent was Baseball America’s 14th-ranked prospect in baseball, and is regarded as having the best hands in the Cubs’ organization heading into 2015. Playing in Advanced Class-A and Double-A this year, Russell posted a slash line of .295/.350/.508, hitting 13 homers, driving in 45 runs over 68 games, and appears to be on the fast track to the majors.
With the Cubs trending up, and a surplus of infielders, including 2014 Minor League Player of the Year Kris Byrant waiting in the wings, it is completely feasible to think that the Cubs could put a package together for an ace or a potential ace in the offseason, creating room for Russell in the 2015 infield.
Starlin Castro is a talented, above-average shortstop in the majors at only 24 years old, and is under a team-friendly contract for the duration of the decade. Javier Baez, another highly regarded Cubs prospect who could be a main piece in a package, has displayed immense raw power and tremendous bat speed, playing mostly second base in the majors, while mainly playing shortstop in the minors.
Castro being the most likely trade candidate would make an attractive center piece of a deal and Baez could potentially be dangled in place of the Chicago shortstop, although the team has maintained that they do not feel a need to trade one of their infielders as of yet. For now, Russell has been sent home, a log jam at shortstop remains, and the Cubs’ near future is brighter than its been in a long time.