Updates from Tuesday, Feb. 4
According to Fox Sports' Jon Morosi, Russell Wilson will not take part in Spring Training:
Russell Wilson's agent, Mark Rodgers, clarified that Wilson has no plans to actively participate in Rangers spring training.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) February 4, 2014
If the NFL doesn't work out, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson will always have a job waiting for him on the baseball diamond.
According to NBC Sports, the Texas Rangers selected the 25-year-old signal-caller in Thursday's Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft at Major League Baseball's winter meetings:
The Texas Rangers picked Seahawks QB @DangeRussWilson in the Rule 5 draft. Wilson played minor league ball with the Rockies.— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) December 12, 2013
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Jeff Wilson explained the reasoning behind the Rangers' decision:
#Rangers haven't had contact with Russell Wilson, but say work ethic and makeup are examples of what club wants from their minor leaguers.— Jeff Wilson (@JeffWilson_FWST) December 12, 2013
#Rangers spent $12K on Russell Wilson in case a) he decides he wants to explore baseball (realizing it's a long shot) and b) makeup example.— Jeff Wilson (@JeffWilson_FWST) December 12, 2013
Russell Wilson will go on #Rangers' minor-league inactive list, which he was on in Colorado's organization.— Jeff Wilson (@JeffWilson_FWST) December 12, 2013
The Star-Telegram reporter quoted Rangers assistant general manager A.J. Preller on why his team decided to draft the QB given his current status in the NFL:
From a baseball standpoint, we feel like if he ever decided he wanted to come back to play again that he'd be a guy we'd want in our system. The biggest thing that intrigued us on Russell from afar is the makeup, the way he goes about his business, the professionalism, the competitor, the message we try to preach throughout our organization, for us to at least have that as part of our organization.
At the end of the day, he obviously has a lot bigger things that he's working on right now, and we don't want to interrupt that aspect of it. But if at some point down the road he decides he wants to do baseball again, we decided it would be a positive to have him with us.
Wilson also provided a bit of insight into Wilson's reaction, courtesy of GM Jon Daniels:
#Rangers GM Jon Daniels spoke to Russell Wilson this morning. "He was excited," Daniels said. "He wants to come to camp."— Jeff Wilson (@JeffWilson_FWST) December 12, 2013
The star quarterback gave his thoughts on the news via Jessamyn McIntyre of 710 ESPN:
Russell Wilson on the Rangers drafting him: "Obviously, I love baseball, but football is where my first love is. I'm blessed."— Jessamyn McIntyre (@JessamynESPN) December 12, 2013
As for what Wilson would look like in a Rangers uniform, MLB posted a photoshopped picture of the Seahawks star on its Twitter account:
For those who are unfamiliar with Russell Wilson's past, he was a stud athlete growing up, competing in several sports at the high school level before moving on to attend college at North Carolina State, where he would star on the baseball field in addition to the gridiron.
In 2010, the Colorado Rockies selected Wilson in the fourth round of the MLB draft. Rockies scouting supervisor Jay Matthews had the following praise for Wilson's abilities, per ESPN The Magazine's Dan Friedell:
I first recognized him as a baseball talent at a Virginia event [for high school students] called the Commonwealth Games. They have teams from four regions that play a two-day round robin. He was an unknown player coming into the event, but by the time he came out of the event, everybody was like: Who’s this Russell Wilson guy? So we invited him to the East-West Professional Showcase in North Carolina. That’s when his athleticism was noticed. He became a prospect.
Wilson appeared in more than 60 games for the Class-A Asheville Tourists at second base in the minors in 2011 but turned his attention to the NFL at the start of 2012.
Will Brinson of CBS Sports brought us a look at Wilson's baseball card:
Could argue Russell Wilson's FB career really took off when he quit BB. But whatevs. Baseball card! pic.twitter.com/Awoz0hXPyh— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) December 12, 2013
Seeing as Wilson has been lighting it up with the Seahawks and is under contract with the team through the 2015 season, SportsBusiness Journal MLB writer Eric Fisher provided some insight into another potential motive behind the move to draft the two-way athlete:
MLB #Rangers spent $12,000 to get rights to Russell Wilson. Made it all back and then some already just on value of marketing exposure— Eric Fisher (@EricFisherSBJ) December 12, 2013
Meanwhile, others like CSNWashington.com's Mark Zuckerman poked fun at the head-scratching move:
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (?!) just went in the minor-league Rule 5 draft. I hear Nats are considering RG3 as a Class AA catcher.— Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) December 12, 2013
It's difficult to imagine Wilson turning to baseball at this point in his career or the Seahawks being content to let him compete in anything other than meaningful NFL games given how instrumental he's been in the team's resurgence under head coach Pete Carroll.
Jon Morosi of Fox Sports reported Wilson's thoughts on the move, confirming that the QB plans to be under center this Sunday, despite the Rangers grabbing him.
Russell Wilson is "thrilled" and "honored" the Rangers picked him in Rule 5 draft, his agent, Mark Rodgers, just told me.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 12, 2013
Rodgers added on Russell Wilson: "I want to assure all Seahawks fans that he will be under center at 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon."— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 12, 2013
Russell Wilson was at work watching film on the Giants when his agent called with news of the Rangers pick -- at 6:15 am Seattle time.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 12, 2013
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports that Wilson's role will be more ceremonial than anything else:
Mark Rodgers, agent for Russell Wilson, says QB will want to be more than motivational speaker for #Rangers in spring training. MORE— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 12, 2013
Rodgers said, “Russell will want to take BP and ground balls. He loves baseball. This is 3d time he has been drafted.” Rule 5 pick for 12.5K— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 12, 2013
After Wilson transferred from NC State and led Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl in his final college season in 2011, the Seahawks drafted him two rounds after Robert Griffin III at 75th overall in 2012. He then won the starting job under center in preseason that year.
Since then, Wilson has thrown for nearly 6,000 yards and 49 touchdowns in 29 regular-season games.
He led Seattle to an 11-5 record and a trip to the NFC divisional playoffs as a rookie. This season, Wilson's Seahawks are 11-2 and considered by many to be the favorite to win Super Bowl XLVIII.
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