Climbing That Hill

Climbing That Hill

Former Husky Addison Russ Nears Major-League Dream as a Phillies Top Prospect
By Russ Reneau

Each year, a few select prospects not on a Major League Baseball team’s 40-man roster are invited to join the big leaguers at Spring Training. In January, former HBU ace Addison Russ (’17) received the call from the Philadelphia Phillies that he would be among the club’s 15 non-roster invitees when camp began in February in Clearwater, Florida.

“It was surreal when they told me,” Russ said. “I knew I had a chance to get an invite, but it’s just a waiting game. Josh Bonifay, the Phillies director of Player Development, called me to tell me the news and let me know they think I have a future with the club, so it’s a great honor. I’m thankful to go to big league camp, being with a new staff and being able to show them what I’ve got and what I’m about.”

In two seasons with the Huskies, the Amarillo, Texas, native was a starter, recording 10 wins with a 3.53 ERA and 145 strikeouts, then was drafted in the 19th round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the Phillies. The Amarillo, Texas, native moved to the bullpen and spent the rest of the 2017 season and 2018 at the class A level, but played the entire 2019 campaign at Double-A with the Reading Fightin’ Phils. He earned the team’s FirstEnergy Pitcher of the Year and was an Eastern League All-Star, making 55 appearances and going 5-6 with 22 saves, a 2.54 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 56.1 innings.

“The hardest thing about professional baseball is the every day,” Russ said. “In college, you get a break and have a chance to regroup. Being a starter at HBU, if you had a bad outing, you had to wait a whole week. Coming out of the pen, if I blow a save, I have to be ready to go the next night. That mindset is the biggest thing that has helped me — just living in the moment.”

Russ is grounded and humble, celebrating only “little victories” as he continues to perfect his craft as a closer and chase his dream. While he is unsure where he will begin the season, only saying he’ll “go wherever they send me,” he does know where he ultimately wants to end up this season.

“One thing I learned from “X” (HBU pitching coach Xavier Hernandez) and (HBU head coach) Jared (Moon), was to always have a goal to work toward,” Russ said. “My goal is to make the (Phillies’) 26-man roster, play in the big leagues and play against the best. I think I’m taking steps in the right direction, but it’s a process.”

© 2020 Houston Baptist University