Wilson Worth the Risk for Rangers
The Rangers drafted Russell Wilson back in December in the little known Rule 5 minor league draft. At the time it seemed more like a PR move than an actual baseball strategy, and at the time Wilson and the Seahawks were in the middle of the NFL playoffs. But now that Wilson has said that he will show up in the Rangers spring training camp in Surprise Arizona at the beginning of March, who knows? Not that many people expect Wilson to hang up his Seattle football helmet for a Rangers batting helmet. The Rangers only spent $12,000 to get Wilson from the Colorado organization but may be the best 12 grand they’ve spent. Even if Wilson never fields a grounder or gets in the batting cage, his presence around the players, especially the younger ones, will be invaluable.
Not only does Wilson now own a Super Bowl ring, which he didn’t when the Rangers drafted him, but the way he got to the pinnacle of the NFL is a captivating story. Changing schools and finally getting some notice at Wisconsin, Wilson lasted until the third round of the 2012 NFL draft. He wasn’t expected to make much of an impact with the Seahawks. But he opens the season as the starter and then wins the Super Bowl in just his second season. He has baseball ability, the Rockies drafted him in the 4th round back in 2010– and he hit.229 with five homers and 19 stolen bases as a second baseman in Class A ball.
He hasn’t said whether or not he plans to participate in any drills with the Rangers, who have said it’s totally up to him. They realize that he won’t walk away from the NFL to play in Class A, but the publicity won’t hurt the organization and Wilson is one of the top young athletes in the country. The stories of his work ethic in Seattle–first in the film room, last to leave the practice field–will be what the Rangers coaches and management will want the young Rangers to hear. You can bring in all of the motivational speakers you want, but to hear from the quarterback who just beat Peyton Manning silly, is not something that every organization can do.
If Jon Daniels was thinking that far ahead, then he’s a lot smarter than we already think he is. It’s just one more example of how good teams operate. They think outside the box, they anticipate, they take advantage of everything at their disposal to give them an edge. Even if Wilson doesn’t break a sweat in Surprise, if he can inspire or motivate a player or two and that inspiration helps them win a a couple games this summer, it may just be the difference between the playoffs and staying home. They’re next move should be to draft Johnny Manziel.