A’s go with high school shortstop in first round

With the 11th overall pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, the A’s strayed from the college pool and plucked prep infielder Addison Russell out of Florida’s Pace High School.

The first-round high school selection marked Oakland’s first since 2001, when the organization drafted pitcher Jeremy Bonderman.

Russell, a shortstop who may actually project as a Major League third baseman, boasts impressive arm strength and athleticism — tools that also make him an option in the outfield — and also carries above-average bat speed and tremendous power potential.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound infielder, who is already committed to Auburn and is advised by super agent Scott Boras, represents the second shortstop taken by the A’s in the first round in the last four years, with Grant Green — since turned into an outfielder — being selected 13th overall in 2009.

The interest in Russell shows the A’s are clearly not afraid to take their time developing a young offensive bat. He is said to show plus bat speed and flashes big power to the middle of the field, batting over .500 in each of first three high school seasons and most recently posting a .368 average and .532 on-base percentage with seven homers as a senior.

The A’s will make two more picks Monday night. The 34th overall selection is compensation for Josh Willingham, a modified Type-A free agent who ultimately signed with the Twins in the offseason. They’ll also take the 47th pick as compensation for Type-B free agent David DeJesus, who landed with the Cubs.

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