Did Russell Wilson play baseball? Yes, and the Yankees still own his MLB draft rights

Did Russell Wilson play baseball? Yes, and the Yankees still own his MLB draft rights

Russell Wilson could likely attest to how Max Fried was so dominant during the 2020 MLB season, because the Seahawks’ quarterback once struck out against the left-handed pitcher.

Yes, that’s right. Wilson played baseball. It’s not discussed as much as Kyler Murray’s famous baseball decision, likely because Wilson wasn’t as highly regarded as a baseball talent. But Wilson played three seasons of Division I baseball, and his rights are still technically owned by the New York Yankees.

Watching players like Wilson and Murray play quarterback often provides glimpses into their baseball backgrounds, from various arm angles on their throws to the way they slide. We took a look back at the type of player Wilson was when he stepped between the foul lines.

MORE: How good was Kyler Murray at baseball?

Russell Wilson’s high school baseball career

Wilson attended Collegiate School in Richmond, Virginia, where he played both football and basketball. There are very few records of high school statistics for Wilson in baseball, although Rivals wrote that Wilson hit .467 as a junior. Long-time Rockies scout Jay Matthews watched Wilson in high school and spoke to ESPN about him.

“He wanted to play football and baseball and be the best he could at both,” Matthews told ESPN. “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.”

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Wilson was good enough in high school to be a 41st-round pick by the Orioles after his senior year. He likely went that low because teams were aware of his commitment to play football at North Carolina State, but getting drafted out of high school points to the talent and upside that Wilson had.

According to Rivals, Wilson’s baseball ability helped him wind up at North Carolina State despite him being a two-star quarterback.

What position did Russell Wilson play in baseball?

Wilson played second base at N.C. State. Overall, he played 106 games of college baseball across three seasons for the Wolfpack. He was a solid hitter with some power, compiling a .282 average which was boosted by hitting .306 as a junior. Wilson also hit five home runs during his college career and stole 17 bases.

The right-handed Wilson also made 10 appearances as a pitcher in his final season at North Carolina State. He struck out eight batters and allowed eight earned runs in 12.1 innings pitched.

What made Wilson’s baseball-playing even more newsworthy is that it may have led to his decision to transfer as a graduate student to Wisconsin. At the time, N.C. State football coach Tom O’Brien said, “Russell and I have had very open conversations about his responsibilities respective to baseball and football. While I am certainly respectful of Russell’s dedication to baseball these last several years, within those discussions I also communicated to him the importance of his time commitment to N.C. State football.”

Wilson didn’t play baseball after transferring to Wisconsin, but he did lead the Badgers to the Rose Bowl, where they lost by a touchdown to Oregon.


Russell Wilson’s baseball draft and who owns his MLB rights now

Wilson was selected in the fourth round with the 140th overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies. He went on to spend two seasons playing minor league ball, first with the Low-A Tri-City Dust Devils and then with the Single-A Asheville Tourists. Wilson hit .229 across those two stops, homering five times and stealing 19 bases.

During the 2013 Rule 5 Draft, the Rangers picked Wilson in the minor-league portion, adding him to their organization. Then in 2018, they traded his rights to the Yankees. So if Wilson wanted to come back to baseball, he’d be doing it in the Yankees’ organization.

Wilson has appeared at Spring Training for both Texas and New York, serving mostly as a motivational speaker/teammate for the rest of the squads. Wilson did get an at-bat for the Yankees in 2019 Spring Training, striking out against Braves southpaw Max Fried.