For the second time in a week, a top-20 prospect in the game has sustained a serious injury. A's shortstop prospect Addison Russell has a hamstring tear that will cost him a month, according to Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, and while it's not as impactful as losing Jameson Taillon for the season, it's still a blow to both the A's and one of the best shortstop prospects in the game.
Long-term, this means nothing for Russell, who profiles as an above-average offensive shortstop and potential impact bat at one of the most important positions on the field. In our ETA series, I projected that Russell would be in the majors by the middle of next summer and this injury doesn't necessarily change that projection. There was a possibility, however, that if he took off with the bat again this season, this time in Double-A, that he could be called on as a reinforcement towards the end of this season, similar to the way the Red Sox handled Xander Bogaerts last season during their World Series run. This injury doesn't eliminate that possibility, but it certainly makes it a stretch.
Unlike Russell, Bogaerts had a taste of Double-A entering last season, but spent just half of 2013 there before moving up to Triple-A before his September call-up. With at least a month on the shelf, it will be tough for Russell to get that amount of experience to justify a promotion. Of course, with little to no offensive production coming from the second base position and a current shortstop in Jed Lowrie who could slide across to the other side of the bag, adding Russell to the lineup in August or September could be an improvement, even if he's not completely ready for the assignment.
Any promotion at this point would require exceptional play upon return from injury and a complete recovery in his legs so that his range is back to where it needs to be to handle the defensive rigors of the shortstop position. Getting him to the majors seemed like a stretch even with a healthy 2014 season, so this injury likely rules it out, though not completely. More likely, however, is that we see Russell in the majors closer to his mid-summer timetable for next year.