Addison Russell can't quite believe he's the youngest player in any big-league camp this spring.
"Insane," said Russell, who turned 19 last month.
Russell blazed through three levels of the A's minor-league system last year after being drafted 11th overall in June. That's unheard of for an 18-year-old, according to general manager Billy Beane and director of player development Keith Lieppman - no one else has done that coming straight of high school. Not Ben Grieve, not Eric Chavez - though Chavez did go straight to high-A ball at the age of 19. Russell could open the season at high-A Stockton after zipping from Arizona to Burlington, Vt., to Burlington, Iowa, last summer.
"That was pretty surprising," Russell said. "I never got to stay anywhere. I was always on the move. I had to get used to places really quick."
He adjusted fairly well at each spot: Combined at the three stops, Russell hit .369 with a 1.027 OPS. He drove in 45 runs in 55 games, and his fielding percentage was .951.
"Pretty impressive for an 18-year-old," Beane said. 'We've had a couple of good high-school draft picks, Chavvy, Grieve, but to go to the Midwest League and do what he did surpasses anything I've seen here."
"The good ones don't worry about the level of competition," Lieppman said. "They just step up and play."
The A's see Russell as their shortstop of the future, and that future might not be too far off - potentially a September call-up next year, and in the bigs to stay in 2015 if he continues to progress the way the A's believe he will.
"He's an offensive shortstop who has the tools defensively, too," Lieppman said. "It's a great combination."

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