A surprising report from Stockton Ports voice Zack Bayrouty on Friday night sent minor shockwaves throughout the A’s organization as apparently Addison Russell is leaving the Ports behind for the Triple A Sacramento River Cats. Our own Nick Avila profiled Russell’s 2013 season just a day ago, and his belief likely reflected many others that Russell was not about to be rushed to the Major Leagues. This isn’t a call to Oakland, but it’s as close as you can get to one.
Russell will join the River Cats as they make their push towards the playoffs in the Pacific Coast League. He will get to test out his talents against many pitchers who could be considered big league ready, so it will be interesting to see how he responds to the jump in the level of competition. We all know that Addison has all the talent in the world, and his future is indeed extremely bright, but we all expected to have to wait a while before we could all enjoy his talent. I would have figured that Russell would possibly work his way to Sacramento by late 2014, and start the 2015 season there, then possibly make his way to Oakland that season depending on how things went. That all seemed like a nice, safe, conservative route for Russell to reach the majors, but perhaps the Athletics aren’t interested in taking a conservative approach anymore.
There’s no telling how this will impact Russell’s career trajectory, but it certainly lends itself to the notion that the A’s think extremely highly of him and believe he can handle much higher competition than the California League can supply.
The implications of this move will be interesting to see as relates to the Athletics right now. The promotion of Russell for the final playoff push may mean one of their current middle infielders is heading to Oakland. The likely candidates would be Hiro Nakajima, Jemile Weeks, or perhaps defensive wiz Andy Parrino. Only Parrino has seen time with the Athletics this season, so Weeks or Nakajima would have to get the call tomorrow in order to be eligible for the postseason.
The move is likely just a “cup of coffee” in Triple A for Russell, it’s hard to imagine he won’t start the season in Double A in 2014. But a move like this could indicate his stay in Midland may be very short if he excels there next season. The sky is the limit for the young shortstop, and it’s hard to contain the excitement of projecting what he can become as a finished product.