By Zach Gewelb
The Tim Tebow experiment will continue in 2018.
In a move that should not surprise anyone, the Mets offered the controversial prospect an invitation back to spring training in a continued effort to squeeze every possible penny out of the hyped former Heisman-winning icon. Tebow is sure to put fannies in the seats in February and March, as well as take away a valuable roster spot from a more deserving player.
Players work their whole lives to earn a spring training invite with an MLB team. Tebow, 30, transitioned from football to baseball just last year. It’s clear he is not as gifted on the field as most of his fellow prospects, yet he gets the nod to attend camp in Port St. Lucie, Fla., because of his reputation, a reputation the Mets are exploiting for monetary gain.
Sure, he’ll draw big crowds, and while he produced a handful of big moments during the minor league season last year, he is still leaps and bounds behind other Mets prospects — and that’s really saying something, given that the Mets have one of the worst farm systems in baseball.
Tebow appeared in 126 games across two minor league levels in 2017. He opened the year with the Mets’ low-Class-A affiliate in Columbia, S.C., putting up a batting line of .220/.311/.336 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) with three home runs, 23 RBI and 69 strikeouts in 214 at-bats.
That subpar line “earned” him a promotion to the Mets’ high-Class-A affiliate in Port. St. Lucie, where he fared a bit better. He slashed .231/.307/.356 with five dingers and 29 RBI while cutting down on his strikeout numbers — 57 in 216 at-bats. While his performance improved ever so slightly, it wasn’t anything close to resembling a legitimate prospect.
Yet the Mets invited him back to spring training for a chance to showcase his “talent.” And while he won’t come close to earning a big league roster spot, expect him to survive the first few rounds of cuts. He’ll stick around just long enough for the organization to make a few extra bucks, and then back to the minors he goes.
But it won’t end there. Though he’ll most likely start the season with Port St. Lucie, it won’t be long before he “earns” another promotion to the next level, Class AA Binghamton, in a league where the top talent in the minors starts to separate itself from the rest of the pack.
If Tebow makes it to Class AA, things will have gone too far. The Mets are entitled to showcase their assets for profit — kudos to them for doing so — but a line needs to be drawn in the sand if the organization ever wants to be taken seriously again. Tebow playing in Binghamton is that line.
Let his play on the field speak for itself. If he improves and actually earns a promotion, that’s great. All the power to him. But the chances of that happening are slim.
With all that being said, I’ll end my rant with a message to the Mets:
Don’t let Tebow take opportunities away from more deserving players. Let the real prospects play.
Reach reporter Zach Gewelb by e-mail at zgewe