Russell, Ynoa represent A's in Futures Game
NEW YORK -- Two A's prospects made their All-Star Futures Game debuts Sunday at Citi Field.
Addison Russell, 19, was Oakland's first-round Draft pick in 2012 and spent his first year with the organization on the fast track through three levels of the Minor League system. Early this season, he struggled a bit with Class A Advanced Stockton, but has recently turned things around.
"I just tried to boost my confidence with the small things, like getting on base and trying to take the extra bag," he said. "Everything played out to where I felt comfortable at the plate and started doing better, and the next thing you know, I'm here. It's a great honor."
"By the end of the season, I want to have numbers that I can look back on and say I did really well this year," Russell said. "I'd like to bat in the .300s, that's important to me."
Russell has a power bat and hits line drives to all fields, but can also make a difference with his glove. His 6-foot-1-inch frame has filled out to 210 pounds, and the quick growth has cost him a bit of quickness and prompted some speculation about a move to third base or the outfield.
"I feel like I have the agility, the hands and the arm to remain at shortstop. I just have to keep the weight off," Russell said. "I'm a guy who gets weight put on easily, so I have to watch what I eat and I have to exercise a lot, too. But maintaining the weight is the easy part. It's more about what I do when I go out there and play every day."
Russell started at shortstop for the U.S. team on Sunday, playing five innings. He went 0-for-2 at the plate.
Russell's mother, two younger sisters and girlfriend were all in town from Florida to watch him play.
"I just want them to be proud of me," Russell said. "And I want to remember all of this."
The family of pitcher Michael Ynoa, Russell's teammate with Stockton, was also in town from the Dominican Republic to watch his Futures Game debut with the World Team. Ynoa struggled, giving up two runs on three hits, including a Matt Davidson home run, though he did fan Russell for the lone strikeout of the inning. He pitched one inning and took the loss.
Ynoa, the A's No. 20 prospect, was promoted to Stockton in early July after making 15 starts with the Class A Beloit Snappers to start the season. There, he compiled a 2-1 record with a 2.14 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings.
The 6-foot-7-inch Ynoa has an easy motion despite his long frame and says his mid-90s mph fastball is his best pitch. He also throws a sharp curveball and changeup.
"I'm just trying to throw more strikes and always be ahead in the count," Ynoa said.
In July 2008, at the age of 16, Ynoa signed with the A's out of the Dominican Republic for a team-record $4.25 million, but struggled with injuries. Tommy John surgery in 2010 caused him to miss all of 2011.
"I feel blessed to be here and have all of that behind me," Ynoa said. "My goal now is to keep working hard and stay healthy."