After one of the best pro debut seasons of any Oakland A's prospect in recent memory, much was expected of Stockton Ports' shortstop Addison Russell. Russell has proved human in the early going with the Ports, posting a relatively ordinary .218/.313/.424 line through 41 games.
While the numbers haven't been overwhelming thus far, Russell has held his own in a league with players mostly three to four years his senior. It took Russell a few weeks to get into the flow of the season, thanks in part to a back injury he suffered before the third game of the regular season.
Russell says the back injury is 100 percent healed, but that it took two weeks or so for him to feel completely normal.
"There was a little bit of a rocky start in the beginning but I'm getting into the flow of things and everything is going good," Russell said. "Things are going as I expected right now."
He has shown flashes of his five-tool talent with the Ports and has swung the bat much better of late. Over his last 10 games, Russell has hit .292 with two homers and an 892 OPS.
"It's just a mental thing," Russell said. "It's just me going out here and trying to grind every day and the mental part. I'm seeing the ball a little bit better and am slowing the game down also."
Defensively, Russell has looked smooth over at short, covering significant ground. Even when Russell has struggled at the plate, he has been able to make contributions with the glove.
"I think I have a natural ability at shortstop and I think that's probably one of my safe havens in the game," Russell said. "Shortstop is definitely where I am comfortable at."
The 11th-overall pick last season out of Pace High School in Florida, Russell turned down an opportunity to go to Auburn to sign with the A's. Now nearly one year after hearing his name called in the draft, Russell has had no regrets about his decision to turn pro. Russell came into professional baseball with little knowledge of the day-to-day life of a pro baseball player.
"Most of what I had seen was players on TV," Russell said. "Now I get to see what happens before they get there and how they once lived and the life they still live. It's different and it has been a great experience and one that I have learned from."
- Starter Josh Bowman was placed on the seven-day disabled list on Thursday. Bowman, who was the Ports' top starter last season, has struggled all year. He began the season with Double-A Midland, but he was sent back to High-A after posting a 4.54 ERA and an 18:21 K:BB ratio in 39.2 innings. In two starts with the Ports, Bowman allowed 15 runs and walked five in just 6.1 innings pitched.
- As of Thursday afternoon, there hadn't been an announcement as to who would replace Bowman on the Ports' roster. RHP Seth Frankoff is a candidate to come off of the DL to replace Bowman. Frankoff was put on the disabled list on May 17 with a strained groin.
- On Thursday, the Ports begin an important four-game series against the San Jose Giants. Going into the series, the Ports are sitting six games behind the division-leading Giants.
- LHP Shaeffer Hall will make his second start for the Ports in the series opener. Hall began the year in the New York Yankees' chain, but he was released by the Yankees on May 10. The A's picked him up not long after his release. Hall was a 25th-round pick of the Yankees in 2009 out of the University of Kansas. He tossed three scoreless innings in his first start for the Ports. Hall had been a reliever for the Double-A Trenton Thunder, so he will need to be stretched out over the next few starts. He was mostly used as a starter in the Yankees' chain.