Prospect Russell thrilled to be in big league camp

PHOENIX -- If Addison Russell felt like he was dreaming on his first day in big league camp Sunday, he surely woke up when a pitch drilled his left knee during batting practice.

"It's a little stiff right now," Russell said, "but I don't even care. This is such a great experience."

Russell, Oakland's top prospect who was taken 11th overall in the first round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, is the youngest player at any big league camp this year, having turned 19 just 25 days ago. But the shortstop doesn't look or act his age.

"He went through some affiliates last year and did very well for a young kid," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "If we didn't think he could handle big league camp he wouldn't be here. The ball jumps off his bat, he's got a live arm, got a live body, all the things that we heard."

Melvin isn't sure how many at-bats Russell will get this spring, but he wants to "make sure I find him some situations where he can succeed."

Russell, the first high school position player who the A's have used their top pick on in 16 years, enjoyed tremendous success in his first taste of pro ball, compiling a .369 average and a 1.027 OPS between three levels in 2012. The Pace, Fla., native also ran the bases well, stealing 16 bases in 18 chances, and proved equally impressive on defense.

"I just did my best at every level to help those teams win, and it worked out for me," said Russell.

The youngster acknowledged how welcoming everyone in the clubhouse has been since his arrival Sunday morning and shared a few goals he hopes to achieve before departing.

"Just pick up on the good habits and see what their daily routine is, soak all that in and learn as much as I can in a short amount of time," he said.