Addison Russell named one of ESPN's 2017 breakout stars


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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs won their first World Series since 1908, and one of the reasons was the excellent overall play of young shortstop Addison Russell. He has shown a tremendous range and a strong arm on defense while possessing a powerful and quick bat at the plate.

However, the 23-year-old prodigy appears to have much more potential to give for his team in the coming years. His home run power will undoubtedly increase as he is already leading the team with five home runs this spring training.

ESPN senior writer Keith Law released his breakout stars for 2017 and listed Russell alongside seven other candidates.

"This is a pure scouting bet, as there’s nothing in Russell’s 2016 performance to point to a big jump in his batting average and OBP," Law said. "He walked more last year, but saw fewer pitches per plate appearance and wasn’t getting into favorable counts any more frequently, while his BABIP took a big tumble."

Law knows that Russell has great bat speed that should help him in his baseball career.

"Russell has some of the best hands I’ve ever seen in terms of strength and quickness, and that applies on both sides of the ball," Law said. "I wasn’t surprised to see him strike out less and show more power, but was surprised that spike in his contact rate didn’t mean a higher average or a drop in how often he pops the ball up."

Law thinks that Russell has legit pull power at the plate.

"I’m going to bet on him to do more with the bat, especially going the other way more often now that he has established pull power and will be pitched accordingly, because he has the hands and the approach to get there," Law said.

Russell has agreed to terms to a one-year, $644,000 deal for the 2017 season as he will be eligible for salary arbitration next offseason.

In 2016, Russell batted .238 with 21 homers, 95 RBIs, and an on-base percentage of .321. During the 2016 postseason, he had three homers and 13 RBIs.

The Oakland Athletics drafted him in the first round (11th overall) of the 2012 MLB Draft.


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