THE PAST: Russo originally was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 20th round of the 2006 draft, and by 2009 he already had advanced to Hi-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He played in 90 games for the Triple-A Yankees that season, batting .326 with five homers, 31 RBIs and 13 stolen bases. He began 2010 with SWB again before being called up to New York in early May. Russo stayed in the majors with the Yankees until mid-July and hit .184 with four RBIs and a stolen base in 31 games. He returned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after that and eventually played in 81 games for the Baby Bombers, batting .259 with a home run and 24 RBIs. Last season Russo played in 113 games for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and hit .273 with four homers, 46 RBIs and 12 steals.
THE FUTURE: Russo is a versatile performer, having played second base primarily in his career but also having spent time at third base, shortstop and all three outfield positions. That versatility is especially valuable at the Triple-A level, as is his experience in the International League. There are a number of players he will need to beat to earn a roster spot in Detroit, but he provides depth at the major-league level as well as a reliable bat and glove at the Triple-A level.
WORTH NOTING: When the Yankees claimed Jess Todd on waivers from Cleveland, they designated Russo for assignment to make room for Todd on the 40-man roster. The Tigers announced that both Todd and Russo were among the players signed to minor-league contracts Nov. 26, and both could be teammates this season.