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Exploring Russell Wilson’s Baseball Career

Colorado Rockies news and links for Thursday, March 10, 2022

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The Denver Broncos finally seem to finally have their quarterback. On Tuesday—almost six years to the day since Peyton Manning announced his retirement—it was reported that the Broncos had acquired Super Bowl winning QB Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks in a blockbuster trade. This marks a huge return to relevance for the Broncos after years of mediocrity... and also a return to where Wilson’s professional baseball career started.

Before transferring as a graduate to the University of Wisconsin, Russell Wilson played both football and baseball with North Carolina State University from 2008-2010.

Wilson was actually drafted out of high school by the Baltimore Orioles in the 2007 draft. Wilson told Baltimore reporters in 2015 that “I had gotten calls in the first and second and third round, and the Orioles wanted to take me then.

“I contemplated it or whatever, and I just told them I wanted to play two sports, so that was kind of my decision to go play at [North Carolina State], and obviously growing up near Baltimore, I’ve got a lot of family there in the Maryland area and D.C.”

The Orioles still drafted Wilson in the 41st round, and although he considered signing he instead opted to pursue the dual-sport athlete path at NC State.

Wilson put together a solid collegiate career with the Wolfpack as a second baseman. He also made ten appearances, including one start, as a pitcher in his senior year. In 2010 he pitched 12 13 innings with an ERA of 5.84, eight walks, and eight strikeouts.

Russell Wilson - NC State Career

2008 32 71 9 21 2 1 2 8 .296 .351 .437
2009 27 72 13 17 2 1 0 10 .236 .333 .292
2010 47 98 25 30 5 2 3 12 .306 .439 .490
TOTAL 106 241 47 68 9 4 5 30 .282 .384 .415

The Rockies liked Wilson enough that then-head of scouting Bill Schmidt selected him in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. Schmidt told the Denver Post that he believed “[Wilson] was a good kid and a good athlete and I thought he had a chance.” Schmidt also said that while his defense at second base was “okay,” his bat needed work, but praised his passion and work ethic.

Wilson played his first season of professional baseball with the Low-A Tri-City Dust Devils, who were managed at the time by Fred Ocasio—the current manager of the ACL Rockies. Ocasio had nothing but praise for Wilson.

“He had the tools,” said Oscio. “He had a good arm and he was good at turning double plays. And he had bat speed. If you have bat speed you have a chance to hit and you will eventually get it right.”

“The thing that stood out to me about Russell was his work ethic. He was always trying to get information from the staff and anybody. He was always the first one at the ballpark and the last one to leave the ballpark.”

Russell Wilson - Rockies Minor League Career

Team Level Year G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI AVG OBP SLG
Team Level Year G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI AVG OBP SLG
Tri-City Dust Devils A- 2010 32 122 18 28 4 4 2 11 .230 .336 .377
Asheville Tourists A 2011 61 193 40 44 5 4 3 15 .228 .366 .342
TOTAL 93 315 58 72 9 8 5 26 .229 .354 .356

Wilson played a total of two seasons in the Rockies organization with solid on-base numbers but a low batting average. After the 2011 season concluded for him, Wilson attended the University of Wisconsin as a graduate student and the Badgers’ starting quarterback. He would later announce that he would not report to spring training in 2012 in order to pursue a career in professional football.

Wilson was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft, but this would not spell the end of his baseball career. The Texas Rangers claimed him in the minor league portion of the 2013 Rule 5 draft. Shortly after his Super Bowl XLVIII victory, Wilson worked out with the Rangers at spring training in 2014 and 2015. He wore a No. 3 jersey and played at second base during practice, though he did not appear in any games.

The Rangers kept Wilson in their organization until 2018, when they traded him to the New York Yankees to fulfill a childhood promise to his father that one day he’d play for the Yankees. Suiting up for his childhood team, Wilson wore No. 73 when he attended spring training. He also got his first professional at-bat since 2011: a pinch-hitting appearance against Atlanta Braves lefty Max Fried. Wilson worked a 2-2 count with a foul ball but ultimately struck out swinging.

“The best thing for me is, I had no fear. I went up there with confidence,” Wilson said. “I was ready. I’ll always remember that. I’ll always remember when they announced my name and they call you up there, you get to go up to the plate and the crowd’s going crazy, the Yankees fans. I used to go crazy for Derek Jeter when he walked up to the plate. To have that feeling and that experience, I’ll never, ever forget that.”

Wilson last attended spring training with the Yankees—who still retain his player rights—in 2019. Barring any sort of trade back to the Rockies organization, his baseball career is over. However, Denver sports fans can now cheer for Wilson to win games in the Mile High City... just while wearing orange instead of purple.

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Rockies fire Scott Van Lenten, head of analytics department, months after he was hired | Denver Post ($)

Just months after his hire from outside the organization, head of analytics Scott Van Lenten was fired by the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday morning. Van Lenten was brought in by general manager Bill Schmidt as part of his dedication to improving the team’s analytics, research, and development. Although the Rockies did confirm that Van Lenten was terminated, the reason for his firing is unknown with the Rockies refusing to comment on “internal matters.”

League cancels more games amid further back-and-forth in CBA negotiations | The Athletic ($)

After another extended session of CBA negotiations, Commissioner Rob Manfred announced Wednesday afternoon that another week of regular season games were set for cancellation. Opening Day 2022 has been postponed to April 14th at the earliest. The player’s union had made many concessions and agreed to the majority of MLB’s latest proposal, but things reached a boiling point when MLB attached the creation of an international free agent draft to the elimination of the qualifying offer system.

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