Addison Russell showed character while with Triple-A Iowa


Less than a week after calling up third baseman Kris Bryant from Iowa, the Chicago Cubs decided to tap infielder Addison Russell – despite his having just 14 career games at the Triple-A level.

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This season, Russell, who is a consensus top-five prospect in all of Major League Baseball, appeared in 11 games with the I-Cubs, batting .318/.326/.477 in 46 plate appearances while manning second base.

His repetitions at second base is what started the speculation regarding a potential call-up earlier this week, given his primary – and natural – position is shortstop, a spot held down on the North Side by Starlin Castro, who is off to a red-hot start himself this year. Now, the Cubs look poised to run out an infield of Anthony Rizzo, Russell, Castro and Bryant.

According to ESPN Stats and Info, that group would be the youngest regular big league infield since 2003, when the Detroit Tigers did so, going 43-119 in the process. With Bryant off to a hot start after stumbling with three strikeouts in his debut, a similar fate doesn’t seem to be in the cards for the Cubs.

After Bryant was promoted, the Iowa Cubs’ offense struggled to score runs until putting up a four-spot in the nightcap of Monday’s doubleheader – half of which were produced by Russell, who went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs batted in. Given he’s a top prospect, such a performance seems fairly “normal,” but when you consider how cold he had been heading into Monday, a two-RBI game is anything but ordinary.

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In the team’s first three home games, the second baseman was 1-for-9 with a trio of strikeouts. That included a streak of eight at-bats where he failed to reach base; which was snapped when he broke up the perfect-game bid of former Cub Scott Baker in the opening tilt of Monday’s doubleheader with two outs in the final inning. From there, he got back on-track.

Sure, a string of less than 10 at-bats without reaching base isn’t anything that derails an entire season – but it certainly can. Young hitters are more susceptible to falling into deeper slumps when things aren’t going their way at the plate and the fact that Russell worked his way out of his cold spell bodes well for what lies ahead.

What Russell brings to the table offensively is pretty well-documented by this point. Between the Oakland and Chicago farm systems, spanning 244 games, the 21-year-old has batted .301/.377/.520. He’s never hit more than 17 home runs in a season, but, with time, power will come; and given the firepower Chicago already boasts, reaching base consistently will be more important out of the gates for Russell.

Both he and Bryant will no-doubt experience their fair shares of ups-and-downs during their big league careers, especially early-on, both have shown the ability to adjust and lead – which can only help as the Chicago Cubs take aim at the postseason in 2015 and beyond.

Next: Report: Chicago Cubs to promote Russell on Tuesday