If you made it big in the restaurant business, you got a Chef’s Table.
At Fantasy Alarm we have one too. Expect here you don’t need a reservation. Or a fat stack to pay for it.
Each week I will profile a player or players based on increased street cred throughout the industry. Whether because of a recent hot streak, increased playing time or a promotion because of an injury. From there I will break down the recipe for that player’s success and determine if he is just a flash in the pan or someone who is gonna bring home the bacon.
Today’s Special: Addison Russell, SS (CHC)
Since the arrival of Theo Epstein in the Windy City, the Cubs have stockpiled young talent in their farm system, but it was a move at the trade deadline a season ago that landed Russell in Chicago as the major piece in the Jeff Samardzjia trade. Russell has already proven all than he can in the minor leagues, slashing .301/.377/.520 in just over three seasons and his promotion to the big leagues would make him one of the youngest players in all of baseball at the age of 21. Although it is going to take him some time to adjust to big league pitching, it is a consensus among scouts that he is major league-ready.
The 2014 season was big for Russell, as he managed to hit .295 with 13 home runs, 45 RBI and 39 runs scores over 258 at-bats between three minor league teams, both with the Athletics and the Cubs. He has proven time and time again that he has a future in the big leagues at shortstop, but in an effort to streamline him to the next level, the Cubs have moved him to second base where he has played his last five games and done just fine. Although the Cubs are 7-5 to start the year, the production from from Jonathan Herrera and Arismendy Alcantara has been shaky at best, which is the main reason for the latest transaction.
The move to the keystone was also a result from the fact that Javier Baez has yet to play a game this season for Triple-A Iowa following the death of his sister back on April 8. Although Baez hit just .169 while up with the Cubs in 2014, he is considered to be the team's future at second base once he finds a way to be more selective at the plate and lower his high strikeout rate. This leaves shortstop as the likely destination for Russell long term if the Cubs can move Starlin Castro down the road, but as long as he can handle second base for the time being his fantasy value will only continue to grow once he settles into his new role.
Despite all the upside Russell has shown over his young career, there will be some skepticism along the way, just like with any player with no big league experience, especially with only 39 plate appearances in Triple-A. Will he be able to display the power he showed in the minor leagues? Maybe. Will he be able to sustain his .300 career batting average against big league pitching? Maybe. But one thing that is not up in the air is his fielding ability, which is going to what will win him playing time if he struggles at the plate in the early going.
When adding young players like Russell, it is sometimes hard to judge just how must production you will get right out of the gates, but one thing is for sure; Russell needs to be owned in all fantasy formats. If he starts off hot, there is no way he becomes part of a platoon at the keystone as both his glove and bat are better than any other option the Cubs have right now on their roster. So those looking for a player who will hit for a solid average with double-digit home run potential, look no further than Russell. Not to mention the added bonus of both shortstop and second base eligibility once he gets a few games under his belt.