When the New York Mets promoted former football player Tim Tebow from Low-A Columbia to High-A St. Lucie at midseason, many people rolled their eyes. Tebow hadn’t done much to justify a promotion, hitting just .220 with three homers and 23 RBI’s in 214 at bats for the Fireflies, but Mets’ General Manager Sandy Alderson hinted that advanced metrics indicated Tebow would be up to the challenge of more advanced competition. While the promotion of Tebow also certainly helped St. Lucie sell more tickets, the former NFL quarterback has also played very well after his promotion, making Tebow the subject of this week’s edition of Minor League Mondays.
Since being promoted, Tebow is hitting .289 with three homers and 11 RBI’s in his first 19 games. Tebow even put together an 11 game hitting streak shortly after joining St. Lucie, which was highlighted by a walk off homer on July 13th against Daytona, which you can watch below.
That blast, if nothing else, highlights Tebow’s flair for the dramatic. Tebow homered in his first at bat for both Columbia and St. Lucie this season, providing some instant excitement for the fans. The Mets also have to be impressed by Tebow’s plate discipline, as he has posted a solid .377 on base percentage over his first 60 at bats with St. Lucie. Tebow has managed to cut down on the strikeouts so far with St. Lucie, recording only 11 strikeouts while drawing seven walks, a good sign for his potential to advance in the team’s minor league system over the next few years.
With the Mets having a down year, there has been a lot of speculation that the team would bring Tebow to the majors in September when rosters expand to sell some more tickets. Alderson said recently that promoting Tebow to the big leagues isn’t an option this season, which is the right answer. While Tebow brings attention to the Mets, promoting him to the big leagues would require adding Tebow to the 40 man roster, which is already full. Wasting a 40 man roster spot for a gimmick player is a bad idea, and the Mets aren’t in such bad shape that they need a Bill Veeck-esque plot to get people through the turnstiles. Tebow would almost certainly be bumped off the 40 man roster at the end of the season, and there’s a chance another team would claim him just to boost ticket sales in the minors, which is something the Mets won’t want to give up.
Tebow’s early success with St. Lucie has certainly made his journey through the minors a bit more interesting. Assuming the Mets leave Tebow in High-A ball for the rest of the year, he will likely appear in spring training again next season before starting 2018 with AA Binghamton. The jump from Single-A to Double-A is often considered the most difficult jump in organized baseball, and it’s the jump that NBA legend Michael Jordan couldn’t conquer before returning to the hardwood. Tebow will likely get a chance to conquer the AA level next season, and if he is up to the task things could get interesting down the road.