Acquired from the A’s last July in the trade that sent Jeff Samardzija to Oakland, the 21-year-old only has 11 AAA games under his belt but plays well beyond his age and should have no problem making the adjustment to the majors.
Russell is expected to play second for the Cubs and Arismendy Alcantara is reportedly heading back to Iowa to make room on the 25-man roster. The Cubs will also have to clear space on the 40-man roster but will likely move someone from the 15-day to 60-day disabled list.
According to a story from Milb.com, Russell was in his hotel room in Des Moines around 10:30 p.m. when manager Marty Pevey called Monday night with the news. “I was surprised and excited.”
Cubs fans are the ones that should be excited as with all the hype surrounding Bryant, Russell has pretty much flown under the radar and is one of the top young players in all of baseball.
Russell missed part of last year with a hamstring injury and was then traded to the Cubs in early July. He spent the rest of ’14 in AA Tennessee, hitting .294/.332/.536 with 12 HR and 36 RBI in 50 games. He was just as impressive on defense, committing just two errors in 380 innings.
The Cubs got Russell some work in the Arizona Fall League, one game at second, but shut him down after 11 games (.196/.260/.348). At spring training, Russell not only displayed his ability to drive the ball but also flashed the glove that has him considered one of the best young defenders in the game.
Russell was Northsiders Report’s #2 prospect heading into the season and a top five selection on most Top 100 lists.
"I never expected to feel like this," Russell told MLB.com’s Ashley Marshall. "It is a dream come true, but the hard work doesn't stop here, it only gets harder. I'm going to continue my strong work ethic and perfect my craft and help the Cubs win a lot of games."