Let's take a look at 10 of the most important attributes that should help to indicate what a prospect’s future might hold in fantasy leagues. Players are ranked on a scale of 1-10 by their qualities for each aspect, accumulating in a final prospect grade. Grades are based on what prospects can bring to the table from the current position they are projected to play in the major leagues.
Without further ado, let’s find out if Addison Russell makes the grade…
1) Baseball IQ – Russell progressed through the minors last year as one of the youngest players at every stop. His knowledge for the game and baseball acumen have helped the prospect succeed against every level of competition he has faced in his young career. Rating: 10 out of 10.
2) Batting-Eye – The prospect has put up close to a 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio throughout his minor league career. Athleticsnation.com provides a nice case study you can access here that analyzes Russell’s strikeout to walk rate in more detail along with what they think the future might hold. Rating: 9 out of 10.
3) Hit-Tool – The right-handed shortstop is said to have an aggressive swing to go with his quick hands. After hitting for just a .269 batting average across the minor leagues in 2013, expect Russell to put his toolbox to work and improve upon that mark in 2014. Rating: 9 out of 10.
4) Power – Perfectgame.com says," Russell has the strength and bat speed to overpower the ball when he gets his arms extended and is an intelligent and mature hitter who is advanced at looking for the pitch he wants during an at bat and jumping on it." Russell could be a one of the top power options at the SS position five years from now. Rating: 10 out of 10.
5) Speed – The prospect stole 16 bags in 2012, and then followed that up by racking up 21 more SB’s in 2013. Those numbers could go down as he ages, but Russell currently contains the skill set to swipe double digit bases for the foreseeable future. Rating: 8 out of 10.
6) Body – It was noted that Addison bulked up, which cost him a step and his quickness was effected. That led to the prospect focusing his workouts less on adding more muscle, and more on his quickness and agility, allowing him to currently check in at 6’0" and 195 pounds. The prospect’s current size should allow him to remain at shortstop for the foreseeable future. Rating: 9 out of 10.
7) Durability – After signing in 2012, Russell quickly hit the field and played in 55 games towards the end of the year. In 2013, the prospect played in 110 games across the minors. With no significant injury history, there is no reason to downgrade here. Rating: 10 out of 10.
8) Ceiling – Keith Law recently ranked the A’s shortstop as the #3 overall prospect in baseball. Addison Russell has the tools to contribute across the board in fantasy leagues. A shortstop that can put up a healthy HR/SB combo will be a welcome source of production in any format. Rating: 10 out of 10.
9) Floor – The A’s pushed their top prospect through the farm system quickly in 2013. GM Billy Beane thinks Russell could be ready to contribute in Oakland very soon. This organization hopes their young prospect becomes one of the top shortstops in the league, and the chances of that happening are very good. Rating: 9 out of 10.
10) Future – The current crop of shortstop prospects could be the best bunch since the days of A-Rod, Nomar, and Jeter. With all of the hype that Xander Bogaerts is receiving right now, don’t forget about Russell, as he could find himself in a similar scenario to Bogaerts very soon. Rating: 10 out of 10.
Overall Grade: 94% - A
Future Outlook: As the 7th player we have run through our "Make the Grade" evaluation system, Addison Russell is the first prospect to receive an A as their overall grade. The shortstop began the 2013 in High-A playing for the Stockton Ports while being the youngest player in the league. But that didn’t keep the prospect from making quick work of the minors, before finishing the season with the Triple-A Sacramento RiverCats. Athletics general manager Billy Beane said Russell is "knocking on the door" of the major leagues. Addison was selected with the 11th overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. After the Pirates drafted and failed to sign Mark Appel with the 8th pick in that draft, it is interesting to think about what the Pirates’ farm system and future would look like if they had gone with Addison Russell instead. There is no way Russell should have fallen past all 10 teams that drafted before he was selected. The shortstop prospect has the potential to become a top 25 overall fantasy player once it all comes together.