Theo Epstein was asked what the team’s plans were for the position-player talent during his season-ending press conference. The Cubs appear to have a very good problem, too many players and not enough positions on the field. Epstein said at the time and has reiterated since that the Cubs plan for the players to be exposed to several different positions in the field.
When asked specifically about Addison Russell, Epstein said, “Second and third to start. He’s going to come to Spring Training as a shortstop, same way all of the other shortstops are, but we’ve already talked to him about at least in Spring Training there is going to be some exposure to second base and third base and to prepare himself for that.”
Addison Russell saw the field from a different angle Monday night. Russell started at second base for Mesa, the first time he played any position other than shortstop in pro ball. Russell told Carrie Muskat that he didn’t mind moving to the other side of the second base bag and is interested in learning a new position.
“I want to be a sponge and soak up everything and try to learn everything,” Russell said. But he also admitted, “I’d love to stay at short. I think I could play a lot of years there. I think I have good athletic ability, a strong arm, a good mentality at that position. I’d love to stay there.”
Russell does not think he will get any taller but admitted he would get broader. And he is noticeably bigger this fall according to Bernie Pleskoff. The former scout sees a difference in Russell and pointed out he is “much stronger, filling out and maturing physically.” Russell realizes he will always have to watch his weight and make sure he gets his workouts in.
Addison Russell spent last fall in Arizona and was teammates with Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler and Albert Almora. This year, Russell is playing in the AFL in order to make up development time he missed prior to the trade.
Addison Russell joined Jody McDonald and Matt Diaz from Arizona during Power Alley (MLB Network Radio/SiriusXM Radio) Tuesday and was asked if the trade to the Cubs caught him off guard.
“It was a total shock to me. I had no idea. I hadn’t heard anything basically it just happened,” Russell said.
There were a lot of mixed emotions for Russell after the trade. But once he had time to think about it and everything settled down, he looked at the trade as an opportunity because the Cubs really wanted him.
Moving from the A’s to the Cubs did not change Russell’s mindset or how he approaches his development.
“I am always going to go about my business the same way. I am always going to work hard and have a good work ethic,” Russell explained. “I believe that whenever I am ready it is all just going to happen. There is not rush. I have been pushed through the system already as it is. I have been challenged and the trade has even more. That is just the type of person I am. I look at everything as a challenge and what I can overcome. This is just a great opportunity. “I am ready just to play, whenever that time may be.”
“I am not worried about moving [positions] or if I do move, so be it. But it’s just something I will be able to put on my resume if they decide to move me to second base, third base, outfield, whatever it may be. It’s just something that I can put on my resume. I’m just going to go out there and just play the type of baseball I know how to play and remain confident and hopefully produce.”
Addison Russell was Mesa’s DH on Wednesday and went 1-for-3 with a double, a walk and a RBI. In five games in the fall league, Russell is 4-for-18 with a double, three RBI, three walks and five strikeouts.
C.J. Edwards made his second start in the AFL on Wednesday afternoon in Surprise and picked up the win. Edwards threw 46 pitches over three innings, 31 for strikes, and gave up only one hit with no runs. Edwards walked a batter and struck out three.
Bernie Pleskoff provided reports on Edwards’ start. Edwards worked quickly, but slowed down with runners on base. His fastball was in the 92-93 mph range, curve at 78 mph and change-up was at 87 mph. Pleskoff pointed out that Edwards changed speeds very well. Edwards threw his curve with two strikes, kept the hitter of balance and changed the eye level of the batter well.
Baseball America posted its second installment of a three-part series focused on the top defensive players in each minor league level at the premium positions … shortstop, centerfield and catcher. The first report from Baseball America focused on the best defensive shortstops in the minors. Marco Hernandez (High-A), Carlos Penalver (Low-A) and Addison Russell (Double-A) were among the top defensive shortstops this past season in the minors.
Albert Almora was the only Cubs prospect to make the cut as one of the best centerfielders in minor league baseball. Almora ranked, defensively, as the top centerfield in High-A ball. Baseball America pointed out it was good to see the data backup what the scouts have been raving about in regards to Almora’s defense … he’s really, really good in the field.
Arizona Fall League Hitting Challenge
Prior to the games starting in the AFL, the league held the second-annual Bowman Hitting Challenge. Dan Vogelbach participated and performed rather well according to the report from Baseball America.
Vogelbach launched five home runs and his blasts were “particularly impressive.” Vogelbach pulled a majority of his five of his home runs “and was the only participant to hit a ball into the batter’s eye at Salt River Fields, which is more than 410 feet from home plate” according to Josh Norris’ report. Any one that has been to Salt River knows that is a monster shot.
Stadium Journey – Minor League Ballparks
Stadium Journey released its ranking of the minor league ballparks Tuesday. The ranking incorporates the overall atmosphere of the park, food and beverage options, access, and the neighborhood around the park.
Parkview Field, home of the Fort Wayne TinCaps received the top spot in Stadium Journey’s ranking.
TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark, home of the Cubs new High-A affiliate the Myrtle Beach Pelicans was ranked as the fourth best park in minor league baseball and “is easily a premier minor league venue.”
Smokies Park, home of the Cubs Double-A affiliate Tennessee Smokies checked in at No. 24, “a game at Smokies Park will have everything a fan needs to enjoy a baseball game.”
Former home of the Daytona Cubs, Jackie Robinson Ballpark was ranked as the 36th best in minor league baseball. Daytona is now the Reds High-A affiliate and “it will be interesting to see how the atmosphere changes with the Chicago Cubs moving their affiliation.”
Principal Park, the Iowa Cubs’ home stadium, was ranked No. 43 by Stadium Journey and “it’s impossible to miss the stunning views” when one enters the seating area.
Four Winds Field is going through changes in South Bend the off-season before the Cubs move in and was ranked as the 62nd best stadium in minor league ball. Four Winds Field “is a great example of a ballpark renovation done correctly.”
PK Park, home of the Eugene Emeralds, came in at No. 114 on Stadium Journey’s list and “it is blatantly obvious who this ballpark caters to: the University of Oregon.”
News and Notes
Danny Ecker provided an excellent report about Andrew Berlin, the owner of the South Bend Cubs. Berlin is also a limited partner of the Chicago White Sox. The man that grew up a Cubs fan is heavily invested in both of Chicago’s baseball teams. Berlin told Ecker he would “be a very happy man” if the Cubs and White Sox squared off in the World Series. Berlin would like both teams to win and he does not see an issue with rooting for them since one is in the National League and the other is in the American League. Not only is the field surface being changed at Four Winds Field from artificial turf to grass, but Berlin is building ‘Cubs Cage’ which will be similar to the Under Amour Performance Center at the Cubs complex in Mesa. ‘Cubs Cage’ will feature six batting tunnels, a fitness center and new video equipment. Danny Ecker added on Twitter that Andrew Berlin said he was offered six times what he paid for the South Bend franchise in 2011 after he signed the four-year PDC with the Cubs.
Called Up posted maps of each big league team’s route from the minors to the majors.
According to a report from the Idaho Statesman, football season is going very well for Joey Martarano, the Cubs 22nd round pick in last June’s draft. Martarano admitted he was “a bit disappointed” the Cubs moved its Short-Season affiliate from Boise to Eugene. Martarano likes the stadium in Eugene but has not spoken with the Cubs about next summer.