Chicago Cubs Gradeouts: Addison Russell’s debut sparked young club
As you all know, this season, like last year, was nothing but a rookie showing for the Chicago Cubs aside from Jake Arrieta‘s domination on the mound during the regular season.
Entering the season with one of the best farm systems in the league that held Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant, and Addison Russell was absolutely huge and promising for this organization looking to turn things around.
And that’s exactly what they did. Once Bryant was called up mid-April, fans started buzzing about the phenom who was thought to be on the opening day roster by most.
We all remember how that went down and had to hear about it from his agent, Scott Boras, who publically criticized Theo Epstein for ‘mishandling’ his client and robbing baseball.
Anyways, shortly after Kris made his big league debut during a weekend series against James Shields and the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field, it was time for another top prospect to set his mark with the Chicago Cubs.
But first, we’ll go back and review the trade that brought over the 21-year-old infielder who was drafted 11th overall in the 2012 Major League Baseball draft.
In a trade with the Oakland Athletics, the Cubs sent right-hander’s Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the west coast in exchange for Russell, Dan Straily, and outfielder Billy McKinney. Another prospect that is expected to make his major league debut sometime soon.
Straily was later moved to the Houston Astros along with Luis Valbuena in exchange for outfielder Dexter Fowler, bringing in that veteran lead-off man that the club has been searching for.
Last season, Russell was taking media day photos while wearing an Athletics jersey and was expected to break out with that organization until he was shipped over to the North Side of Chicago.
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Just a day after going 0-for-5 in Pittsburgh, he recorded his first hit the very next day then continued to reach base safely as he later put together a 12 game hitting streak.
During that streak, Russell swatted his first big league homer against the Milwaukee Brewers in a 1-0 victory and finished the month of May with four homers and nine RBI.
As the season progressed, shortstop Starlin Castro began to fall into a slump. This resulted in him being benched and Russell moving over to his primary position where he immediately took off.
In 52 games as Chicago’s everyday shortstop, Addison committed only two errors but finished the season with a total of four in 61 appearances at the position. It was clear that he was far more comfortable at short as he had nine errors charged to him in 86 games at second base.
Aside from his defense, batting in the No. 9 hole for Joe Maddon‘s lineup proved to be better for him as well. All 13 of his home runs, 45 RBI, and 98 of his hits came while batting at the tail end of the order.
His presence during the postseason after the NLDS was surely missed after he injured his hamstring when legging out a double on a ball that appeared to be leaving the yard.
But now that he has plenty of time to recover, this young star has the potential to eclipse his 2015 totals next season. Honestly, don’t be surprised if he ends up making the All-Star game along with Arrieta, Bryant, and Anthony Rizzo.