- Full name Adam William Russell
- Born 04/14/1983 in North Olmsted, OH
- Profile Ht.: 6'8" / Wt.: 280 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Ohio
- Debut 06/17/2008
Drafted in the 6th round (179th overall) by the Chicago White Sox in 2004 (signed for $140,000).
View Draft ReportThe 6-foot-8, 250-pound Russell is an intimidating presence on the mound. His fastball also can be intimidating when it reaches 95 mph with electric life in the zone, and he works with a free, easy motion. He hasn't had success at the college level because he doesn't throw a quality breaking pitch for strikes consistently. In the absence of injured righthander Marc Cornell, Ohio's ace a year ago, Russell was expected to provide more than a 1-3, 4.75 record this year. Because of his ceiling, he should be drafted in the first three or four rounds.
Organization Prospect Rankings
There's nothing subtle about Russell, a big man who challenges hitters with a fastball that parks in the low 90s and occasionally reaches 95. He was used exclusively as a reliever for the first time in 2008 and made a smooth transition, spending almost as much time in the big league bullpen as in Triple-A. If hitters try to sit on Russell's fastball, he can gets outs with a curveball that rates as a plus pitch at times. He varies his arm slot, sometimes dropping down to a low three-quarters angle, and has a high-maintenance delivery that easily gets out of whack. As a result, he has inconsistent control and command. He also seemed a little reluctant to challenge hitters on the inner half once he got to Chicago, though that's not uncommon for a pitcher getting his first taste of the major leagues. He never has been able to develop much of a changeup, though it's less important now that he's coming out of the bullpen. The White Sox have several veteran righthanders in their bullpen, so Russell will need a strong spring training in order to break camp with the club.
Following his breakout season in 2006, Russell's development slowed a little in what may have been a confusing season. He became one of the flavors of the month in spring training, when his 95-mph fastball and sharply breaking curveball made him a favorite of scouts in Arizona, but seemed to suffer a letdown when he wound up back in Double-A. He seemed his own worst enemy at times, opening the year in the rotation and ending it in the bullpen. He pitched well as a reliever in the Arizona Fall League. Russell throws a 91-94 mph fastball from a variety of arm slots, emulating Jose Contreras after a suggestion in mid-2006 from from Winston-Salem pitching coach J.R. Perdew. Russell's curveball is a plus pitch at times but hitters don't chase it out of the strike zone. He is about as subtle as a lumberjack, using his build to gain some intimidation and durability. Russell's secondary pitches lag behind his fastball. He can get out of whack mechanically in a hurry and has a hard time getting himself back on track. The Sox would like him to work faster as he can think too much on the mound. While Russell has pitched primarily as a starter in the minors, the bullpen appears his most likely path to the big leagues. The White Sox need help in that area, and he figures to be a candidate for a job in spring training. He also could benefit from spending at least half a year in Triple-A.
Russell had little success at Ohio, going 6-11, 6.28 in three seasons, but made a late push and became a sixth-round pick. He has fared much better in pro ball since finding a reliable breaking ball, and he spent the second half of 2006 in Double-A. Russell's size presents an intimidating presence on the mound, and he has learned to use it to his advantage. He throws on a downhill plane from a high slot, and he reaches the mid-90s with his lively fastball on his best days. He'll alter his arm slot and drop down to give batters a different look with his fastball and slider. He has gained confidence in throwing four-seam fastballs at the top of the strike zone after establishing his heater in the lower half. Russell's changeup and curveball are still works in progress, and he doesn't dominate hitters because they don't have to respect his offspeed stuff. He tends to overthrow when things aren't going well. Entering 2006, the White Sox were excited about Russell's potential as a reliever, but now they believe he can be a starter. He still needs to flesh out his repertoire, and he probably will head back to Double-A to start 2007.
A 26th-round pick by the Marlins out of high school in 2001, Russell may have wished he turned pro when he had little success at Ohio. In three seasons with the Bobcats, he pitched in just 38 games and posted a 6.28 ERA, but a late surge in his junior season nevertheless got him drafted in the sixth round. His huge frame and easy arm action attracted scouts, and Russell has made a smooth transition into pro ball. He earned a spot in the Kannapolis rotation out of spring training and held it all season, helping the Intimidators win the South Atlantic League title. Russell has a lively sinker that sits at 88-90 mph and touches 92. He doesn't have much in the way of complementary pitches, so the White Sox tried him in late-inning relief during instructional league and were encouraged by the results. He likely would gain more velocity if used in shorter bursts, and a bullpen role suits his aggressive nature. He'll probably pitch in the rotation this year in high Class A, though, so he can get some much-needed innings.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Fastball in the Chicago White Sox in 2007