Watching the Seattle Seahawks creep ever closer to another NFC West division title, it’s hard not to watch Russell Wilson and wonder “What if … ?” when it comes to the Seattle quarterback and his potential baseball career as a member of the Colorado Rockies.
Wilson was drafted by the Rockies in the fourth round of the 2010 draft and was paid a $200,000 bonus, part of which was returned when he signed with the Seahawks after Seattle selected him with the 75th pick in the 2012 NFL draft.
He was signed by the Rockies on June 21, 2010, and listed as primarily a second baseman. However, scouts thought Wilson could play a number of positions and eventually become a solid utility player.
“When I see him roll out and guys are chasing him and he throws an off-balance pass, I’m like, ‘Oh, there’s that double play he turned,'” Joe Mikulik, who managed Wilson at Class A Asheville in 2011, said in this article.
The Rockies liked a lot of things they saw in Wilson that NFL fans now see every weekend on the gridiron. His athleticism and leadership skills have paid off for the Seahawks … and were some of the things that drew the Rockies to him.
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“He wanted to play football and baseball and be the best he could at both,” Jay Matthews, who serves as a scouting supervisor with the Rockies and got to know Wilson when he was in high school, said in this article. “Years later, he was still that focused, motivated player. We saw him as a Jerry Hairston-type big leaguer — athletic enough to be versatile at multiple positions, possibly second, third, left field and center.
“The defense was ahead of the offense. But we thought if he had at least 1,500 minor league at-bats, the upside was there and he was going to be a big league player. We wouldn’t have drafted him in the fourth round if we didn’t think that.”
Wilson never got the 1,500 minor league at-bats. At short-season Class A Tri-City in 2010, he hit .230 in 122 at-bats with two homers and 11 RBI. The next season at Class A Asheville, Wilson batted .228 with three homers and 15 RBI in 193 at-bats.
That would be the end of Wilson’s time with Colorado. The Seahawks drafted him in 2012 and he soon brought a Super Bowl title to the Pacific Northwest. While he was focused on football, the Texas Rangers picked him up in the 2013 Rule 5 draft.
“I believe that I would’ve played in the big leagues, I believe it would have taken me a couple years, [but] I would’ve gotten there,” Wilson said before Super Bowl XLVIII. “I would’ve loved the game, but there’s nothing like playing football. There’s nothing like the game being on the line.”
The thought of Wilson with the Rockies as a utility infielder is a pretty intriguing one. Would his bat ever have caught up with his defensive skills? Would he have found his way into the Colorado dugout eventually and been a “character” guy in the locker room? There are many questions but one thing is for certain … the Seahawks are glad he chose football over the Rockies.