A’s first rounder picks pro ball

The A’s used last week’s MLB draft to try to rebuild the offense, selecting a number of high-ceiling high school players with their first couple of picks.

The cornerstone player of the bunch, Addison Russell from Pace High School in Florida, has decided to take the A’s large sum of money rather than attend Auburn in the fall.

Jason Blackeney of the Pensacola News Journal caught up with Russell over the weekend:

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Being part of a big league club and being an affiliate of the Oakland A’s is a dream come true.”

The MLB-recommended signing bonus for the 11th overall pick is $2.625 million. Russell wouldn’t tell Blackeney how much he signed for, but did confirm that it was for at least that amount. On draft night, after the A’s selected Russell, MLB.com’s Jane Lee reported that Russell would make “a family decision” regarding whether to go pro or go to school.

It sounds like the money swayed him:

“They offered me a good chunk of change. And my parents are all down for it.”

Auburn coaches must be disappointed to lose such a talented player. In February, the Auburn University Athletics website ran a story on their incoming recruiting class with comments from head coach John Pawlowski about each player. Here’s what he had to say about Russell:

“Addison is one of the best players in the country at any position. He is a sure-handed shortstop that also makes highlight reel plays. He has one of the most powerful swings in the country and has been the best hitter in the Florida panhandle area for the last three years.”

Russell wants to be a shortstop, but there are concerns about whether he will grow out of the position. He added 20 pounds of muscle last year, playing himself out of the position and drawing body-type comparisons to former Giant Juan Uribe.

Russell’s coaches moved him to third base, which he didn’t like, so he lost the extra muscle and now, according to Baseball America, most scouts think he’ll be able to stay at shortstop as long as he stays in shape.

A scouting report from Baseball America’s reads in part:

“Some scouts still think he will have to move to third, but most consider him a shortstop with soft hands, improved footwork and an above-average arm. Russell has bat speed and raw power, hindered by inconsistent swing mechanics.”

The news of Russell’s signing isn’t officially official yet. But considering Russell spoke freely about the deal, it’s safe to say it will happen. Russell told Blackeney he will fly to Oakland sometime soon to meet with A’s management and spend the day at the ballpark — typical for most first round picks:

“I get to go to a game in Oakland, and they’re going to call it Addison Russell Day. I get to sit with the general manager in his box and go to the game. it’s going to a lot of fun.”