Kyle Parker of Clemson, Zach Lee of LSU, and Russell Wilson of NC State were all selected in the MLB Draft. Parker excelled on the diamond in 2010, hitting the same amount of homeruns as he threw touchdowns in 2009, while Russell Wilson excelled much more on the gridiron than on the diamond, yet has a tough decision ahead of him due to future NFL projections.
Kyle Parker has a real tough choice ahead of him. The Rockies have thrown down the gauntlet picking him in the first round. Dabo Swinney looks to be out of luck here, as Kyle Parker projects better professionally as a baseball player than an NFL QB, as his 20 jacks and 63 RBI as the Tiger RF show a higher earning potential than the NFL prospects do for a 6’1 QB who doesn’t have CJ Spiller to hand off to anymore.
Wilson has already stated that he is going to play baseball over the summer, while coming back to the Wolfpack for practice on August 3rd. He had a solid but not great season on the diamond for the Wolfpack, starting 27 games while hitting 3 HR and 12 RBI, playing mainly LF and CF while appearing on the mound 10 times. My thought is on Wilson is that he’s going to scoop the signing bonus, play for a summer, and see if he can build on his 2009 gridiron campaign after that. Wilson led the ACC in touchdown passes (31) in 2009, but needs another strong season to project well into the NFL as he is only listed at 5’11″. Wilson will be able to use the leverage he gained from football to maybe get a better than normal signing bonus for a 4th round selection, and then use that investment the Rockies put in him after football season and focus on his pro baseball career. Quarterbacks who are undersized have a tough time being taken seriously by NFL Scouts, and it’s going to take another Super Bowl win by an undersized quarterback for that mentality to change. Therefore, WIlson is much better off career wise focusing on baseball.
While the ACC stars look to be headed to the Rockies, LSU two-sport recruit RHP/QB Zach Lee was somewhat of a perplexing pick for the Los Angeles Dodgers, even prompting a tweet of “Wow” from Keith Law, assuming that’s what he was referring to. Right when this pick was made, the internet was abuzz with McCourt conspiracy theory tactics of drafting a player they have no intention of signing in the hopes of picking up a compensatory 2011 selection. Adding fuel to the fire is that Lee enrolled in Summer classes on Tuesday. Head Coach Les Miles stated today that “Zach wants to come to LSU, get a degree and play football and baseball for the Tigers. I met with Zach and his parents today, and I think that they are looking at LSU as a great opportunity both academically and athletically.” If Lee were an undersized QB, it could make a difference on his decision due to NFL projections, but at 6’4 he is able to keep his options open and play two sports at LSU while having the chance to possibly go in the first round in EITHER sport in 2013.
Two-sport athletes are nothing new. It’s common practice for draftees to be able to use their promise of gridiron glory to generate higher slotting in the draft, and therefore, more cash. Last year, Donovan Tate used his signing with North Carolina to play quarterback to squeeze $6.25 Million signing bonus out of the San Diego padres, which was $250,000 more than 2nd overall pick Dustin Ackley. One of the most famous instances of this was Billy Beane walking away from an offer to play Quarterback at Stanford (behind John Elway, another player who excelled at both sports) to sign with the Mets. Turner Gill was actually taken in the same 1980 draft 36th overall by the White Sox, spurning the offer to play Quarterback and Nebraska, and is now the head football coach of the Kansas Jayhawks.