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Opinion: Tim Tebow is a serious baseball prospect – A distinction he’s earned.

Eastern Division's Tim Tebow watches from the dugout after the Eastern League All-Star Double-A baseball game, Wednesday, July 11, 2018, in Trenton, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Tim Tebow is a serious baseball prospect worthy of the opportunity that he has created for himself. The former Heisman Trophy winner and the ex-NFL star is also a Hall of Fame human being. Look no further than his relationship with Trenton Thunder Bat Boy Tommy Smith courtesy of Matt Kardos from our sister site the Pinstriped Prospects for details on that. I don’t want to focus on this aspect of Tebow’s story. It’s frankly covered enough and has nothing to do with whether or not he should be taken seriously as a prospect.

Tebow has a divisive following like no other athlete I’ve ever seen. You either love him or hate him. Followers of his will find themselves a super fan, or a super hater and will follow his progress regardless of where he goes in his athletic career. No one is really on the fence on what they think of the former football star. In his time as an athlete, Tebow has played quarterback for the Florida Gators in college football as well as playing the same position for the Denver Broncos, New York Jets, and lastly the New England Patriots before being cut from football altogether. Fast forward to 2016 when Tebow held a tryout to showcase his abilities to scouts as he attempted to start a minor league baseball career. A circus of fans and media following his every move.

Prior to this recent run, Tebow hadn’t actually played baseball since his junior year of high school and at the age of 29 back in 2016 (He’s 31 today) is significantly older than any other typical baseball prospect. This welcomed a large amount of criticism ─ but there was always one believer in Tebow’s baseball ability? His agent Brodie Van Wagenen.

Let’s fast forward to recent comments made by Tebow’s former agent who now holds the job as General Manager of the New York Mets. Van Wagenen said he expects Tim Tebow to begin 2019 with the Triple-A Syracuse Mets but didn’t rule him out from making the team’s opening day roster. This caused quite a stir in the media landscape, look no further than Mike Francesa’s comments on the matter, on his show Mike’s On for WFAN Sports Radio. “He can’t play a lick. Even Sandy (Alderson, former Mets General Manager) admitted it was a marketing stunt.” remarked the longtime New York sports radio host.

It’s true what Alderson remarked was behind the signing of Tebow. It’s also true that Tebow has risen naturally in the New York Mets minor league system and is far more than a joke.

Upon signing a minor league contract with the Mets back on September 8th he was assigned to the Gulf Coast League and then the Arizona league. While his first pitch ever delivered to him was smashed for a home run Tebow hit for a whopping .194 with 20 strikeouts in 62 at bats. Tebow would start his 2017 with the Single-A Columbia Fireflies where he would hit .220 with 3 home runs in 64 games before being promoted to the High A Port St. Lucie Mets. In St. Lucie, Tebow would finish out his season hitting .231 with 5 home runs in an otherwise quiet year as far as media coverage was concerned. In Tebow’s first season as a minor league player, he developed a tremendous amount as a hitter.

That development continued in 2018 as Tebow was assigned to the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies where he had a very good year. His production ramped up. Just in June 2018 alone Tebow sported a slash line of .318/.357/.455 over 22 games and was named to the Eastern League All-Star Roster. It was during the Eastern League All-Star Game where Tebow would hit a double off of Beau Burrows of the Detroit Tigers organization. MLB has the right-handed pitcher ranked 86th on their Top 100 Prospects List.  This is playing a little more than a lick. By all likelihood Tebow would have been promoted to Triple-A last season if it were not for a broken hamate bone in his right hand which required surgery back in July. Speaking of this past July ─ Tebow was batting .340. For the entire 2018 season, Tebow hit .273 with 6 home runs, 36 RBI, a slugging percentage of .399, and an OPS of .734. Numbers that showed development by this prospect.

Van Wagenen came under fire after suggesting that Tebow could be an outlier in making the Major League team on opening day. This isn’t that crazy of an idea. Tebow has shown the New York Mets organization that he is willing to put in the work to improve. This includes reports that Tebow spent so much time working on hitting that his hands began to bleed.

Tebow has done everything the Mets have asked of him since his signing back in 2016. Many people, including myself, have been skeptical about his ability to play baseball at a professional level. Tebow’s made a believer out of me. He is a legitimate minor league player, not a circus act, and not a joke.

Tebow has worked hard and earned a potential spot in Triple A. The most consistent thing about this prospect is his ability to defy the criticisms stacked against him. This is something he has done since his days in college football. Will Tebow play at the major leagues? I’m still skeptical. Tebow is 31 and father time will defeat any level of belief in one’s self or any optimism one can have. That said, I think Tebow has earned the right to be listed as a legitimate New York Mets prospect. He has earned a spot in Triple-A for next year, and he has earned the right to prove us wrong. After all, what’s the catchphrase for this organization? Right, “Ya Gotta Believe!”. It’s certain Tebow definitely believes and it sounds like GM Brodie Van Wagenen is a believer as well. Tebow’s earned the chance to make us believe too.

 

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3 Comments

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