Cubs prospect Russell embracing new team

Ranked No. 5 by MLBPipeline, SS looks forward to season after being acquired from A's

Cubs prospect Russell embracing new team

MESA, Ariz. -- Addison Russell has not had a chance to thank Jason Hammel for being part of the reason the shortstop was traded from the Athletics to the Cubs last July. It should be easy to do and won't even require a phone call. Hammel and Russell now find themselves in the same clubhouse with the Cubs.

Last July 5, Russell was included in the package the A's sent to Chicago for Hammel and Jeff Samardzija. The Cubs also received outfielder Billy McKinney and pitcher Dan Straily, who was dealt to the Astros in January along with Luis Valbuena for Dexter Fowler. Hammel returned to the Cubs after signing a two-year contract last December.

Cubs acquire Russell, McKinney

Russell, 21, who was sidelined part of last season because of a right hamstring injury, was added to the Double-A Tennessee roster after the trade, and he batted .294 in 50 games. He played briefly in the Arizona Fall League as well.

A first-round pick in 2012, Russell noticed a change immediately after he was dealt.

"There's big differences," he said of the Cubs vs. the Athletics. "There are more younger guys here. I like to talk to the young and older guys to get their perspective on baseball and pick their brain a little bit. It's a good thing that I got traded, and I'm looking forward to the season."

He arrived early in camp with Kris Bryant, and the two were paired on the left side of the infield during the first day of drills. Both fall on MLB.com's 2015 Top 100 Prospect list, with Bryant at No. 2 and Russell at No. 5.

"It's cool to see how our lives are developing," Russell said of the young talent on the Cubs.

He got his first taste of how passionate Cubs fans are at the winter convention in January.

"I was just trying to take everything in," he said.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.