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LAND -- The A's announced on Friday that they had signed 11th-overall pick Addison Russell, and the team brought the shortstop to the Coliseum to meet the big league team, take batting practice and field some grounders. The recent graduate of Pace High School in Florida looked comfortable on the field, even hitting at least one ball out of the park to center field.
"I was always going to wonder what it was going to be like to put on a Major League uniform, and it feels great," Russell said.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin said he was looking forward to meeting the first-rounder. Melvin recalled when the Orioles did the same thing after drafting him out of high school -- in fact, Baltimore was playing at the A's, meaning Melvin took batting practice at the Coliseum, just like Russell.
"It's always a nice little feather to be able to come up to the big league team and take batting practice," Melvin said. "That was quite a thrill. I know what he's going to be going through today."
Russell had a college commitment to Auburn, but the 18-year-old said the opportunity to play in the Majors was just too much to turn down for him and his family. As a teenager, Russell often had to take care of three younger siblings until his parents got home from work at night. As a result, Scott Boras, Russell's agent, said the shortstop has a level of maturity that most others his age don't have. That should serve him well as he begins his professional career.
"I think he knows the opportunity and knows how to take advantage of it," Boras said. "Plus, having that skill set and that character, I think he's got a great chance for success."