Tim Tebow was a high school baseball player. Tim Tebow was a pretty good high school baseball player. He may have even been draftable out of high school had he not poted for college football. Over a decade ago. Tim Tebow last played competitive baseball in 2005. And he only played for two years. His high school baseball coach, Greg “Boo” Mullins, has described Tebow as a “six-tool player”, the sixth obviously being character, who definitely could have played in the major leagues. Over a decade ago.
Tim Tebow is now a minor league baseball player. Following a MLB-wide tryout which many decried as a publicity stunt (and weren’t that far off), and wasn’t very impressive, Tebow signed a minor league deal with the New York Mets. Upon signing Tebow the general manager of the Mets, Sandy Alderson insisted that it was not a publicity stunt.
“While I and the organization, I think, are mindful of the novel nature of this situation, this decision was strictly driven by baseball. This was not something that was driven by marketing considerations or anything of the sort. We are extremely intrigued with the potential that Tim has.
“He has demonstrated over his athletic career that he is a tremendous athlete, has got character, a competitive spirit. Aside from the age (29), this is a classic player-development opportunity for us. As an organization, we’re going to provide that development opportunity for Tim.”
Aside from signing a player who will be past his prime by the time he’s even near ready to play in the major leagues and hasn’t demonstrated any capability of playing baseball at a professional level in over a decade, yes, it’s a classic player-development opportunity. But would Tebow put in the effort to develop? Would the Mets handle his development the right way, bringing him along slowly, recognizing his lack of baseball experience and playing time? Tebow may have potential as a baseball player based purely off of his extraordinary athletic gifts, but athlete doesn’t directly translate to baseball player. Just as athlete did’t translate to football player. Tim Tebow needs time to become a baseball player if he and the Mets truly want him to succeed. But that doesn’t seem to be the plan.
After two weeks in instructional league the Mets decided to assign Tebow to the Arizona Fall League. Alderson said the team wants him “to play in more games to continue developing his skills on the field while facing advanced competition”. There are two problems with the assignment and with Alderson’s statement. First, the Arizona Fall League is usually reserved for the top prospects in baseball to whom organizations want to give extra attention and instruction in order to continue their development towards the majors. Maybe Tebow fits the latter aspect, the Mets want to give him extra development time. Secondly, however, Tebow does not need to face “advanced competition”. Over a decade. That’s how long since he’s played competitive baseball. You want to get him competitive at-bats but not against competition which may hinder his development.
Because that’s the way it looks right now. Tebow’s start to the AFL has not been impressive. No hits, 2 walks and 3 strikeouts through 9 at-bats. And according to ESPN’s Keith Law, who has scouted players for ESPN and the Toronto Blue Jays, saw Tebow play and was not impressed:
“Tim Tebow is in the Arizona Fall League. He might be better suited to playing in an Arizona high school league. His presence here is a farce, and he looks like an imposter pretending to have talent he does not possess.
“Tebow the baseball player is not a baseball player; he’s a washed-up quarterback who has size and nothing else. His swing is long, and he wields the bat like someone who hasn’t played the sport in more than a decade, which he hasn’t. He can’t catch up to 90 mph, which is well below the major league average for a fastball, and was cutting through fastballs in the zone on Wednesday night. He rolled over twice on fastballs, which is something you generally see professional hitters do only on off-speed stuff, and he showed below-average running speed. In left field, his routes look like those of a wide receiver, although he managed to eventually make his way around to a fly ball in left.
“In short, there’s absolutely no baseball justification for Tebow to be here.”
Law added that at this point Tebow doesn’t even look good enough to be an organizational player. Which at this point may be expected given his lack of playing experience and plying time. And why he has no business playing in the Arizona Fall League against advanced competition with top prospects from across baseball. For his part, Tebow said, “I’m getting adjusted. I need to get back into the rhythm,” Tebow said. “I was a little late on a couple of fastballs I could have done something with”. But the comments of his manager are more telling.
“The progress is being made,” said Scottsdale manager Tom Goodwin, who also serves as the first-base coach for the Mets. “It’s slowly but surely coming along. He’s got some TV obligations to fulfill, and he’ll come back Monday and he’ll be ready to go.”
“I’m sure he’s said it to you before: He’s missing pitches that he should hit,” Goodwin said. “He’s rolling over [pitches] right now. That’s going to happen, because you’re anxious up there. You want to hit the ball. So you go out and get it instead of letting it travel a little deeper.
“Every time he comes out and plays, I would expect him to get better at that. And then he’s going to have to learn, when he gets his pitch to hit, to not miss it. There are a couple of balls, I’m sure, he feels he should have hit that he’s not hitting. That’s a part of baseball. That’s a part of learning your strike zone and learning your bat path, and then putting a good swing on the ball that happens to be in your path.”
That is to say that as Tim Tebow is attempting to learn the strike zone, learn how to swing a bat and learn how to hit a baseball he’s taking time off on the weekends because he technically still works for the SEC Network.
Yes, Tim Tebow and the Mets are taking his baseball career very seriously.