Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Baseball, football, Jameis Winston and Russell Wilson

Ran across this old Liberty Meadows daily strip last week and filed it away for future use:

I'm with the dog on this one. (Big surprise, huh?)

The baseball or football question came up in a surprising context this week when Baseball America announced its preseason All-America teams, and Jameis Winston — better known as the Heisman Trophy winner and quarterback of the national champion Florida State Seminoles — was named to the third team as a utility player. (Winston is both a pitcher and an outfielder for the Seminoles.)
Jameis Winston pitches for Florida State — when he's
not in the outfield, and when he's not playing quarterback.

Not everybody is sold on Winston as a baseball prospect — Keith Law of ESPN has been dismissive of the notion on Twitter — but BA touted him as a high schooler, and describes him now as a potential first round talent as either a pitcher or an outfielder. It's also worth noting that its All-American teams are derived via a poll of MLB scouting directors.

To be fair to the skeptics, they don't doubt his tools so much as they doubt that he will develop the skills needed to be a true baseball player, as opposed to an impressive athlete playing baseball. Playing quarterback is Winston's day job. Baseball is a hobby (to reverse Bo Jackson's description of his NFL days). There's a lot of nuance to high-level baseball, and he's just not going to have the opportunity to develop in the sport on a part-time basis.

Winston will be eligible for the baseball and football drafts the same year (2015), and nobody expects him to be an easy baseball sign. He would likely step right into the starting lineup with whatever NFL team drafts him; in baseball, he would have the humbling experience of the minor leagues. On the other hand, he has a better chance of not being crippled after his playing days if he goes with baseball.

Even if Winston is serious about baseball, I think baseball would have a better shot at landing him if it weren't for the draft spending rules put in place two years ago. It will likely take serious cash to buy out his football ambitions, and those same football ambitions will discourage teams from using a high pick to claim his baseball rights.

Then there's Russell Wilson, quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks and, officially, a minor-league infielder in the Texas Rangers system. I say officially because Wilson, who played two seasons in the Colorado Rockies system (hitting .229/.354/.356 in 93 games in A ball) hasn't played baseball since 2011. An outstanding quarterback, but not a major league prospect, much less a major league player.

The Rangers claimed Wilson in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft in December, and apparently the quarterback is expected to come to spring training. This appears more likely to be a speaking engagement than an athletic endeavor, however.

1 comment:

  1. "Baseball is played on a diamond, in a park, a baseball park. Football is played in a stadium, War Memorial Stadium ...". George Carlin