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Home » 2010 MLB Draft » NFL Draft Prospect Russell Wilson MLB Draft Retrospective

NFL Draft Prospect Russell Wilson MLB Draft Retrospective

From NC State QB (above) to Rockies 2B to Wisconsin QB to NFL Draft Pick
Source: Track 'Em Tigers

I was trading emails with an old pal this past weekend about one of my favorite non-MLB Draft topics: the NFL Draft. We were discussing potential project backup quarterbacks for our favorite team when Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson came up. I’d personally be thrilled to take a chance on him in the middle rounds — fifth ideally, fourth most likely, third only if there’s a run on second tier QBs earlier than I think will happen — in much the same way I would have been happy to have my favorite baseball team take a chance on him in the MLB Draft’s middle rounds (my idea of our draft’s “middle rounds” are anything from round 10 onward). Here’s why I was high on him as a baseball prospect back in the day…

Betting on Wilson is betting on upside, a worthy risk to take when you are considering which mid-round college hitter to gamble on. See, the sad little truth about lists like this are that the players, while undeniably impressive and accomplished and talented, are more than likely never going to play in the big leagues. Heck, many of them won’t see AA. Once you get past the top two or three names on any of these college lists, it’s all a big guessing game. Educated guessing, to be sure, but guessing all the same. To make a long intro slightly less long, if you’re are going to bet on a mid-round college player, go for the rare guy with untapped potential. That’s Wilson. Here’s why…

I tend to overuse this word when writing about draft prospects, but it applies to Wilson so well here that I can’t help myself. Wilson is an interesting prospect. More than one team affiliated employee I spoke to used that word to describe Wilson in some way – “interesting upside,” “interesting bat,” and “interesting future.” Watch him for just a couple of innings and you’ll see evidence of all five tools right away. His bat is, well, interesting, and his power, while mostly to the gaps at this point, could top out with homer totals in the teens professionally. As a former quarterback unafraid to take off with the ball when needed, it comes as no surprise that his speed rates as an easy 60, with startlingly quick acceleration. Defensively he may have the speed, instincts, and athleticism to play up the middle (2B or CF), but his presence on this particular list is a bet on his plus arm playing best at third base over the long run. Wilson’s numbers this year were solid across the board, but his performance must be judged with his lack of college ball experiences prior to 2010 in mind. He needs more reps on the diamond, but if a team is patient with him they could be rewarded with a player who closely mirrors the Melvin Mora developmental path, something that will no doubt interest a big league club or two come draft day.

Wilson was a surprise fourth round pick by Colorado in 2010. He wound up only playing parts of two baseball seasons before “retiring,” transferring from NC State to Wisconsin, and having the crazy 2011 college season that will get him drafted next month. As a 22-year old in the South Atlantic League (Low-A) he hit .228/.366/.342 in 193 at bats with 15 steals in 17 attempts. Obviously not great numbers, but not terrible for his first full pro season. When you factor in his potential defensive value as a 2B, you see that maybe the Rockies were on to something with their widely panned “overdraft” of Wilson. For better or worse, we’ll never know what could have been for Wilson on the diamond; selfishly, I’ll admit that this kind of unknown isn’t a lot of fun for somebody as fascinated with the MLB Draft as I am, but it is never a bad thing when we get the chance to watch a talented athlete follow his dream in a sport he loves.

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