A's send prospect Russell to Minor League camp
Shortstop has strained hamstring; seven other players also sent down
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The A's were hoping to show off their top prospect in a big league park during the annual Bay Bridge series next week. Instead, an injured Addison Russell was sent down to Minor League camp on Sunday.
"A lot of it had to do with the injury," said manager Bob Melvin. "There's a good chance we would've taken him all the way had he not got injured. But we don't want to try to rush him back on the field and get him in games here just for the sake of trying to get him in games.
"He's impressed to the point where we feel really good about him. I know he feels good about himself, too. It was unfortunate that he had the injury."
Russell suffered a strained right hamstring six days ago, limiting him in baseball activity. But Oakland's first-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, considered a five-tool player, had already done enough to prove himself as nearly ready for the big leagues.
He's projected to be the A's starting shortstop in 2015, following Jed Lowrie's expected departure via free agency in the winter, and could make his Major League debut even sooner -- whether as an injury replacement or September callup this season. MLB.com has him ranked as the No. 12 prospect in baseball.
Russell was 7-for-25 (.280) with a pair of doubles and three RBIs in 12 Cactus League games in his second big league camp.
"Last year, we just got him some DH at-bats to get his feet wet, a couple games at shortstop," said Melvin. "But he knew right away that he was going to get in most of these games this time. The more he was out there, the more comfortable he looked, and toward the end he really looked like a guy that belonged here. He just needs to go down and play and get more reps. He's got the entire game to be able to play here."
Russell is likely to begin the year at Double-A Midland after he hit .275/.377/.508 with 17 home runs and 60 RBIs in 107 games for Class A Advanced Stockton last year. He also whiffed 116 times in 429 at-bats with the Ports, and cutting down on strikeouts was on his to-do list this spring.
Also sent down Sunday were non-roster pitchers Philip Humber, Matt Buschmann, Fernando Nieve and Deryk Hooker, catcher Luke Montz and infielders Jose Martinez and Darwin Perez.
The 31-year-old Humber, who pitched a perfect game on April 21, 2012, but has since struggled in the Majors, had a rough go with the A's this spring. He appeared in six games, giving up nine earned runs on 10 hits in just five innings. He also walked five and hit two batters.
"The stuff's all there," said Melvin. "He throws 95, he's got a power breaking ball. He has all the stuff to succeed. He just needs to get the ball down. We saw a lot of mid-thigh to belt pitches. He had some trouble putting guys away once he got to two strikes, so I think he has to get a little better with that.
"And, really, the confidence is going to be a big thing for him. If he's confident that he can succeed here, he definitely has the stuff to do it. The innings have kind of dried up, and he needs to go down there and just work on throwing strikes and dominating. He really has the stuff to certainly dominate. We've see the success he's had at the big league level before, and it's not like his stuff has gone away."