Tim Tebow showed enough in his recent baseball workout to garner a contract offer from the defending National League champion New York Mets. He will report to the Mets’ fall instructional league in Port St. Lucie, FL.
The former Heisman Trophy winner and 1st round NFL Draft pick will undoubtedly be the oldest player and the most hyped. Tebow’s hype may be more for his football accolades and public image, but his baseball skills could be headed in the same direction. Despite not having baseball since 2005 at Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, Florida, Tebow is one of the most resilient athletes in recent memory.
Why sign Tim Tebow?
Baseball experts and analysts have been split on the Tebow baseball hype since it was announced that Tebow would be holding an open workout for all 30 Major League teams last month. Some thought it to be a joke and an embarrassment to the hundreds and thousands of other professional (and even collegiate) players. Others considered the workout a legitimate effort by Tim Tebow to showcase that he could perform at a professional level. Either way, any knock should be for Major League teams for scouting him rather than Tebow for putting in the effort and giving the baseball thing a shot. You can’t knock the hustle.
For the New York Mets, or any other team who was considering signing Tebow, there is almost no risk in bringing in Tebow to a fall instructional league. As long as he is signing a deal equivalent to his baseball peers, then the potential is as equal if not greater, than the teenagers he will be playing alongside.
Love him or hate him, Tebow is one of the hardest workers and grittiest people around. Personally, I think a team like the Cleveland Browns could have signed him as a starting quarterback and automatically won two or three more games just because of his effect on raising the play of his teammates. Tim Tebow is no longer in the NFL though, and he is trying his hand at what might have been his first true love.
Baseball coverage for Tebow
Tebow’s signing isn’t as much of a headline for the New York Mets as it is for Major League Baseball. The process and time it takes to become relevant in the Majors is greater than that of the NFL. A 1st round pick in football is expected to play and contribute heavily just months later. A 1st round pick in baseball rarely makes in The Show before his second or third year – if he is doing well. Should the Mets keep Tebow around for a possible fall league or even a Minor League stint next season, MLB will reap the benefits of the publicity that is sure to follow.
I’ve already mentioned the determination of Tim Tebow, but experts think that Tebow will also be a good influence on his new teammates. While that is likely, part of the Tebow effect is that he influences people around stuff he knows well. Whether that is football or mission trips or helping others, Tebow doesn’t have to learn on the job while basically being himself. Baseball is not brand new to him, but Tim Tebow is a decade removed from competitive baseball. Depending on how far he thinks he can realistically climb the professional ladder, he will need to put all of his energy into perfecting his swing and honing his baseball skills. His focus has to be on getting better and not on trying to a positive influence on other players. The ladder will need to come on its own.
Does Tebow have a shot at making a starting lineup at Citi Field in the future? He is already old in baseball years and has some wear and tear from football. His body should be fresh for baseball, and it will be a matter of how he is able to translate his overall athletic ability into baseball specific ability. Watching his workout videos, his movements are not as smooth as you would expect a baseball player to be. It looks a little choppy, but that should get corrected with more repetitions. The mechanics will need to get attention from coaches as Tebow learns to read fly balls (assuming he plays outfield) and to hit pitches other than a fastball. I’m not sure what pitch types Tebow was hitting in his workout, but hopefully he is better than Pedro Cerrano from Major League.
Can skills match the determination?
The best-case scenario is that Tim Tebow becomes the Mets’ starting left fielder at some point next season. But that won’t happen. The best-case realistic scenario is that he does well enough in fall instructional leagues to get assigned to a minor league roster in the spring. The Brooklyn Cyclones are the A level short season team of the Mets. It would be a good testing point for Tebow if he shows enough progress to make it there.
Many people will compare Tebow’s baseball pursuits to those of Michael Jordan. Jordan made it to the Double-A level, but the comparisons are not great. Jordan’s baseball attempt was 20 years ago. He was already one of the greatest basketball players of all time and signed with the same hometown baseball team as his basketball team.
What is the one thing that Jordan and Tebow have in common in regard to playing professional baseball? Their passion and desire. Jordan maybe more so because he left in the middle of winning NBA championships (albeit his father’s death influenced his decision as well). Tebow will reportedly still be allowed to work his analyst role for the SEC Network on ESPN on Saturdays. It will be interesting to see if that becomes a conflict of interest once the instructional league begins.
It is a long shot for Tim Tebow to accomplish much in baseball, at least compared to Hall of Famers and multi-year veterans. However, if he can reach the minors and move up a class or two, he will be more successful than the majority of other ballplayers out there. The odds of playing professional baseball are slim, and the odds of making the Majors are even slimmer. But the odds of even thinking about doing any of that starting at the age of 29 are almost impossible.
Tebow has already done what very few other people could have, or would have done. He may have had some natural talent mixed in with skills from 10 years ago, but multiply that by his determination and you just might come up with a future outfielder for the New York Mets.