Addison Russell excited to be a part of Cubs rebuild

Addison Russell excited to be a part of Cubs rebuild
July 16, 2014, 12:45 pm
Share This Post
Tony Andracki

Why another shortstop?

Most people asked that question when the Cubs made some fireworks with a July 4 trade to acquire top prospect Addison Russell from the Oakland A's for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.

But for the Cubs, it was just about acquiring elite young talent, regardless of position.

For Russell, the deal was unexpected.

[MORE CUBS: Cubs-A's trade: Who is Addison Russell?]

"It was a really big surprise," Russell told broadcaster Mick Gillispie at Double-A Tennessee. "I had not thought about getting traded at all. I was just taken aback; I was surprised.

"It's a great opportunity, too. And that's what (A's Double-A manager Aaron Nieckula) told me — don't look at it as if you're losing another manager or you're losing friends; it's a great opportunity. He said he believed in me and he's going to follow me, so it was awesome."

The 20-year-old shorstop was ranked as the fifth-best prospect in the game on Baseball America's midseason rankings and sixth on Baseball Prospectus' list.

He's been plagued by injuries this season, but in 25 games, he boasts a .275/.359/.374 slash line while getting his first taste of Double-A ball.

[MORE CUBS: Addison Russell is a dealmaker for Anthony Rizzo]

Russell has drawn rave reviews for his defense at shortstop, but he said he would definitely be willing to move off the position if the Cubs ask him to, especially with Starlin Castro, Javier Baez and even Arismendy Alcantara able to play short at a high level.

"Normally, I stick at shortstop, but when the time comes, if they want me to move at the big-league level, I think I'll be able to adjust," he told Gillispie. "So really, right now, I'm just sticking at shortstop."

Russell said Cubs fans have welcomed him with open arms as he's seen his Twitter followers more than double since the trade. The 2012 first-round pick is excited to join the list of elite Cubs prospects as Theo Epstein's front office continues their rebuild.

"Whenever (they call me up), I think I'll be ready," he said. "With all this young talent, we could have a powerhouse lineup. We got (Jorge) Soler, (Kris) Bryant and Javy.

"It feels great (to be a Cub). Coming up with all this talent, this is a great spot to be."