Russell, 19, checks in at No. 48 on the annual ranking of baseball's biggest and brightest young talent assembled by MLB.com's Draft and prospect expert Jonathan Mayo, who compiles input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, closeness to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. The list, which is one of several prospect rankings on MLB.com's Prospect Watch, only includes players with rookie status in 2013.
Russell, who influenced the A's to use their top pick on a high school position player for the first time in 16 years, is one of 14 shortstops on the list, and only six rank above him.
The Pace, Fla., native enjoyed tremendous success in his first taste of pro ball, compiling a .369 average between three levels in 2012, while posting a 1.027 OPS. Russell also ran the bases well, tallying 16 stolen bases in 18 chances, and proved equally impressive on defense.
Last season, the A's went through five shortstops in their march toward an American League West title but exited the season without one in place to take the reins in 2013. Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima was signed to fill that void by agreeing to a two-year deal in December. The 30-year-old infielder brings with him an impressive resume, though it remains to be seen how he will adjust to Major League action.
Nakajima's deal may very well serve as the bridge to Russell, with his arrival anticipated as soon as 2015 at the tender age of 21. The A's were so wowed by the youngster that they opted to send him an invite to big league camp even though such an offer wasn't included in his contract.
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.