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Prospect Reviews: Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, Dan Straily

Via our SB Nation Athletics site, Athletics Nation, here are brief profiles of the three players the Cubs acquired for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Many thanks to Zonis of Athletics Nation for these profiles.


Addison Russell, shortstop

Russel is a phenom shortstop prospect; the kind everyone drools over. Expect repeated references to Miguel Tejada, Derek Jeter, and the like. Will he really turn out as such? Probably not, due to the volatility of prospects, but I believe he will.

Russell was widely panned as an overdraft by the A's in the 2012 Draft, drafted 12th overall. Most pundits had Russell pegged as a late first round/compensation round pick, primarily due to a misunderstanding that originated with some advice he was given to by scouts during high school.

During high school, Russell was told that he was too skinny, and to fill out, in order to gain power. Russell did so, but gained too much muscle mass, which led scouts to believe he was putting on weight being lazy, and had him pegged to move over to third base. In reality, Russell was working very hard on becoming a stronger hitter, and after that, went back to his normal routine, slimming down and staying at shortstop.

The A's believed in Russell and that he would stay at shortstop. They took him high in the draft, and it paid off immediately. Russell is a prospect with all the tools, at a premium position, and looking back it is bizarre that he went as low as he did. Russell tore up every level he played at when coming up, eventually getting to Triple-A Sacramento for the playoffs, where he finally hit a wall, if you can call it that.

To begin 2014, the A's had him pegged to start in Midland, and perhaps be the A's starting SS by mid- to late-2014. Out of spring training, however, he had a minor tear in his hamstring, and the A's shut him down till June. Coming back into June, Russell began to tear it up again, but his ETA is now 2015.

What you can expect from Russell is a toolsy, good defending shortstop that will also be a significant producer for your lineup. Russell will probably end up as that awesome #2 hitter right before the sluggers. I can tell you this, the Cardinals and Brewers will lament this day going forward.

Billy McKinney, outfielder

McKinney was not as heralded as Russell. A tweener OF, McKinney has been playing center field, but profiles more as a Left Fielder. He has good hitting skills, but is not awesome in any one place. In a way, I feared he would turn into Matt Sulentic, who started out awesome in Low-A ball, and then fell off the grid after becoming a top prospect. But, McKinney has the first round pedigree.

I project McKinney to be an average corner outfielder. If all goes well, he will become Mark Kotsay 2.0, but without the awesome defense.

Dan Straily, starting pitcher

In the minors, Straily was a strikeout machine, rising to fame after dominating and leading the minor leagues in strikeouts. After reaching the majors, he's been hit or miss. Straily has a lot of potential, and could be a third starter at best, fifth starter at worst. Straily primarily has issues with the fifth inning and flyball tendencies turning into homeruns. If he can get his control controlled, he can dominate. But I am worried about his velocity declining, whether that is a hidden injury or just mechanical issues. My projection for Straily is somewhere between Mark Redman and Ted Lilly.


Everyone seems to love this guy. It seems like he is in every trade! Watch out, you might see him wandering around Wrigley Field in an A's jersey.