Russell flirts with cycle in NYPL debut

First-round Draft pick homers, goes 3-for-4 for Lake Monsters

Addison Russell was selected 11th overall in June's Draft. (Alysia Pagano/Vermont Lake Monsters)

By Ashley Marshall / Special to | August 2, 2012 9:49 PM ET

Life in the Minor Leagues can sometimes be a blur. Just ask Oakland first-rounder Addison Russell.

On Tuesday night, he went 2-for-5 for the Athletics' Arizona League affiliate. Shortly after the game, he was called into manager Marcus Jensen's office and told he was being promoted to Vermont -- some 2,500 miles away.

After a layover in Philadelphia, Russell arrived in Burlington on Wednesday night in time for a couple hours sleep before going to the ballpark. It was hectic, but worth every minute.

With the adrenalin still flowing, Russell went 3-for-4 with a homer in his New York-Penn League debut Thursday as the Class A Short-Season Lake Monsters beat the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, 7-5.

"I didn't know any of my schedule or where I needed to be at what time," said Russell, selected 11th overall in June's Draft. "I was just thrown into it, but I look at that as a challenge. I challenge myself every day no matter where I'm situated.

"Overall, tonight was a pretty good win for the team. We scored some runs and we squared the ball up. I felt good. I've had a lot of at-bats, so I didn't really feel out of my element. I went in there with confidence."

Batting first and manning shortstop, the Florida native doubled to center field and scored on catcher Richard Stock's throwing error in his first at-bat.

After flying out to end the second, Russell then singled to left field in the fourth, before smacking a solo homer to left with one out in the sixth.

"I believe it was a 2-2 or 3-2 pitch. I was really expecting a fastball, but he threw a curveball that I knew was going to fall in for a strike," he explained. "So I extended my hands and hit it to left-center field. I really wasn't sure if it was [going out]. If I hit it to center field, that's a different story because you have to get hold of it.

"I wasn't sure, so I was running hard the whole way. If I hit the ball from left-center to right-center, it means I'm driving the ball. That's where I live. If I'm hitting the ball in the gaps, I know it's going to be a good night for me."

Needing a triple for the cycle, Russell drew a two-out walk before scoring on Brett Vertigan's two-bagger in the eighth.

The 18-year-old was well aware of the situation, but when he didn't get a pitch he could drive, he was happy to take the free pass instead.

"I was looking for something down in the zone," said Russell, who said he last hit for the cycle in the first game of his eighth grade season. "Either something I could hit to the right-center field gap or something I could pull down the line for a double. I was aware of [the cycle] but I like where the cards fell, so I'm not complaining."

Selected by Oakland out of Monsignor Edward Pace High School in Florida, Russell cruised through his first six weeks as a pro.

After signing with the club June 15, Russell began his career with the A's Arizona League affiliate. In 26 games with the Rookie-level affiliate, the shortstop batted .415 with six homers and 29 RBIs. He also legged out five triples, swiped nine bases in 10 attempts and scored 29 runs.

At 6 feet tall and 185 pounds, Russell already boasts a power-speed combination that could keep him a leadoff hitter down the line.

"I'm aggressive at the plate, but I'm also selective and I can go deep into counts. I'm a fun player and I'm energetic," Russell said.

"I can hit with power and I can hit for average. I have a good arm and I'm fast. I have a lot of confidence coming into Vermont. Now I just want to see some pitches and have quality at-bats. I'm just trying to find out what kind of player I can be and how I can get better."

Vermont's Nate Eppley (3-0) scattered two hits over three innings in relief of starter Brent Powers, who struck out eight batters and yielded four runs -- three earned -- on four hits and two walks over three innings.

Mahoning Valley's James Stokes (0-2) took the loss after allowing two runs on three hits over two innings out of the bullpen. He struck out two batters and did not issue a walk.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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