The 2012 amateur draft is just about three weeks away, so between now and then I’m going to highlight some prospects individually rather than lump them together into larger posts.
Addison Russell | SS
A shortstop at Pace High School in Pace, Florida — on the panhandle near the Alabama border — Russell has battled weight issues in the past but dropped at least 20 lbs. over the winter and muscled up considerably. He is a committed to Alabama and is advised by Scott Boras.
Listed at 6-foot-0 and 215 lbs., Russell is a bat-first prospect with big raw power to the pull side and the ability to drive the ball to all fields. His approach is fine but still needs some refinement, though he has shown the ability to handle velocity and quality breaking balls in showcase events. He’s a man of a thousand stances, tinkering with his setup constantly. That will have to change at some point. Russell’s defensive skills are surprisingly strong for a kid his size, as he sports smooth hands, a strong and accurate arm, and a quick first step. The long-term concern is that he’ll outgrow shortstop and slide over to third, though the bat works fine there and he should be an above-average defender.
Keith Law has the Yankees selecting Russell with their first round pick in his latest mock draft, and I figured that was as good a place to start our individual profiles as any. Baseball America recently ranked him as the 28th best prospect in the draft, which is right in line with the team’s first selection (#30 overall). Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer loves his bat-first high school position players and Russell certainly qualifies. His potential as a hitter is a bit more obvious than Dante Bichette Jr.’s, who had to clean up his swing after the draft in order to take off as a prospect. I can only assume Boras will want the full $1.6M first round slot money and then some.