New York Mets minor leaguer Tim Tebow is nearing the end of his days on the farm. Do we see him play in Major League Baseball this season?
The New York Mets may be the only team in baseball whose most famous player isn’t on the major league roster. Tim Tebow, a former Heisman trophy winner, College National Champion, NFL quarterback, and college football analyst, has been in the Mets’ minor-league system since 2016.
While many wondered if celebrity’s transition into baseball was a publicity stunt, Tebow has proven that he is serious in his pursuit of an MLB career.
Tebow’s Minor League Career
Tebow’s baseball career began slowly. He hit a home run on his first pitch in the minor leagues but batted an abysmal .194 in 70 plate appearances. He also showed poor plate discipline by striking out twenty times that season.
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In 2017, he was assigned to the Columbia Fireflies where he would raise his batting average to .222. While his batting statistics were still disappointing, he hit a home run in his first at-bat and began to establish himself as a consistent power source in the lineup.
Tebow’s next stop was with the St. Lucie Mets (the Mets Advanced-A club) where he once again hit a homer on his first day of action. He would finish the year with a .231 batting average and five home runs in 216 at-bats.
During his time in St. Lucie Tebow also began to change the way fans and media members viewed him. The initial confusion and outrage about his baseball career began to dissipate as he proved he could compete at the professional level.
At the beginning of 2018, Tebow received an official invitation to major league spring training. He also received a promotion to the Mets’ double-A team the Binghamton Rumble Ponies.
Amazingly, he continued his streak by hitting another home run in first at-bat with his new team. Tebow continued to improve as a baseball player and was named as an Eastern League All-Star with a .261 batting average and 36 RBI. However, his breakout season was cut short by a season-ending broken bone in his right hand.
Tebow’s Major League Chances
The 2019 season will potentially be the most important in Tebow’s baseball career. If he can pick up where he left off last season, the 31-year-old former quarterback may have a legitimate chance to earn a stint at the MLB level. However, several things must happen for him to receive an opportunity.
Tebow must shake off the rust and injury to regain his 2018 form. If there is any significant regression, he won’t receive a call-up.
1) He must display a respectable plate discipline. Tebow’s game should translate well to the modern major leagues. He is a power hitter who swings for the fences (and carries a low batting average). However, if he has a low average against minor league pitchers, it will be difficult to justify an opportunity to hit against the best arms in the world.
2) The Mets’ must have a need at the outfield position. As the roster currently stands, the Mets are not very deep in their outfield. Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto are the projected starters in left and right field, with Keon Broxton and Juan Lagares platooning at center field.
The team also projects Jeff McNeil as an outfielder, with fringe players like J.D. Davis, and minor leaguers Rajai Davis and Gregor Blanco also potentially factoring into the equation. However, only three of these players (Conforto, Nimmo, and McNeil) seem to be long-term solutions. If an injury occurs or a player underperforms, Tebow’s chances increase exponentially.
3) The team must be in the proper position. Tebow’s best chance at playing in the major leagues will likely come if the Mets have either a disappointing season or clinch a playoff berth earlier than expected. Considering the team’s 77-win 2018 season, a strong argument can be made that he would have received a call up last season had he not been injured.
Because the last several games were meaningless, bringing Tebow to the majors as a way of building excitement and selling tickets would have been a smart transaction.
Will 2019 be the year that Tim Tebow joins a short list of players to play in both the NFL and MLB? I think so! Even if it is a short stint as an injury replacement or morale booster, it seems as though everything is in place for “Tebow Time” to make its first appearance in the Big Apple.
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If the team does elect to make the move, it may prove to be especially valuable on the field. Tebow has hit a home run on his first day at every level of the minor leagues. Imagine the applause if he were to continue that trend in Citi Field!