The Chicago Cubs promoted infield prospect Addison Russell to the major league roster this morning. Russell was hitting .318/.326/.477 in 11 games for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs of the Pacific Coast League, with a stolen base, one walk, seven strikeouts, and four doubles in 44 at-bats.
Russell is one of the top infield prospects in baseball. Originally drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the first round of the 2012 draft, he attended high school in Pensacola, Florida and signed with Oakland for $2,625,000. He was traded to the Cubs in 2014 as part of the package for Jeff Samardzija. Although his playing time was limited by injuries last summer, he hit .294/.332/.536 in 50 games for Double-A Tennessee after the trade.
Russell has the physical tools to be a solid defensive shortstop but in Wrigley Field he will slot over at second base in deference to Starlin Castro. He has unusual power for a middle infielder and can hit for average too, making contact readily although he can be aggressive and his walk rates against advanced pitching have been low so far. At age 21 his upside is enormous. He ranked at Number Five on the Minor League Ball Top 175 prospects list entering 2015.
The promotion of Russell gives the Cubs three outstanding rookie talents in the everyday lineup: Russell, outfielder Jorge Soler (ranked seventh on the Top 175), and third baseman Kris Bryant (ranked first). Although some ups and downs should be expected given the youth of the group, this is a rare aggregation of elite talent. The Cubs are well-positioned for long-term success.