The New York Mets apparently have seen enough of Tim Tebow’s performance with the Class A Columbia Fireflies and will promote him up to advanced Class A St. Lucie in their minor league system.
“His performance [in the South Atlantic League] justified assignment to a full-season club,” Alderson said. “He went to Columbia. I wouldn’t say he’s excelled there, but I would say what he’s done there, given all the circumstances, justifies the promotion to St. Lucie.”
The former Heisman Trophy winner batted .222 with three home runs and 23 RBI for Columbia, giving him the eighth highest batting average on the team among players with at least 100 plate appearances. Against the minor league’s top 20 pitching prospects, Tebow bats .236 with zero home runs and 16 strikeouts in 61 plate appearances.
No matter which metrics you look at, Tebow is a below-average prospect playing in the South Atlantic League, giving this the appearance as nothing more than a PR move for a franchise struggling to find its footing during the regular season.
|South Atlantic League||.251||.318||.373||.691||.122||22.3%||7.5%||97.2%|
“I think we’re pleased with his first half of the season,” Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson said on Sunday. “It’s not like he’s tearing up the league, but at the same time, all of the indications are positive in terms of various things that we look at — chase rates and exit velocity. The bottom line is the average isn’t there, but he’s improving.”
Improving might be a stretch. Tebow’s command of the strike zone also continues to be poor and his strikeout rate has remained steady at 28 percent while his walk rate declined from 11.3 to 9.8 percent in one year, making it hard to support Alderson’s claim that Tebow’s chase rate — the percentage of pitches outside the strike zone at which a batter swings — is improving without it impacting how often he strikes out. And his strikeout-to-walk ratio figures to get worse as he progresses through the minor league system. Tebow sees a four-seam fastball on eight out of every 10 pitches, whereas major league batters see one just over half the time (55.4 percent), making each stop in the minors more and more likely to feature breaking balls and off-speed pitches that tend to be a challenge for even the best of hitters.
As for Tebow’s exit velocity: It may be improving, but it won’t do him much good if he keeps hitting the ball on the ground. Almost two-thirds of his batted balls in play during his stint in Class A resulted in a groundball (64 percent), making it difficult for him to hit with any consistent power.
Not even Tebow’s fielding is good enough to warrant praise. In fact, it is, for lack of a better word, atrocious. He has seven errors with only 50 put outs and one assist, giving him a fielding percentage of .879. For context, Hunter Renfroe of the San Diego Padres ranks dead last among all MLB outfielders this season with a fielding percentage of .939, which is also the lowest of any everyday outfielder since 1969.
Meanwhile, the Mets’ top prospect and the overall No. 3 prospect in baseball, shortstop Amed Rosario, is hitting .319 with seven homers and 48 RBI in 73 games for the team’s Class AAA affiliate with no timetable for his arrival in the big leagues. If New York is looking for some positive story lines, maybe the Mets should start there.