A lot of people were surprised when former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow decided to play baseball and was signed by the New York Mets.
Most thought it was a publicity stunt when Tebow was promoted from the lower Class-A Columbia Fireflies of the Southern Atlantic League to the High Class-A St. Lucie Mets of the better known Florida State League. They may have all been wrong.
Tebow played in 64 games for the Fireflies, hitting two home runs in his first three games but later going through a 0-17 slump before finally getting hitting a double and the next day the third home run of his short career.
Just over a month later, after hitting.220/.311/.336 with still only three home runs and 23 RBI with the Fireflies, Tebow was promoted to the High Class-A St. Lucie Mets. Granted Tebow had put in some time playing in the Arizona Fall League but he never had to play in a Rookie League or a short-season Class-A league. It most often takes players much longer to reach the highest level of Class-A ball.
It looked like and still does to some extent, appear to be that his promotion was either favoritism because he played in the NFL or for publicity. A good guess would probably be to say that it was a bit of both, with publicity for their minor league affiliates being the Mets’ main motive.
Hitting a mere.220 does not usually get a ballplayer a promotion. It just doesn’t. Plain and simple.
However, since being promoted to the St. Lucie Mets Tebow is hitting.318 with a.412 on-base percentage and a.500 slugging percentage.
In 14 games with his new team Tebow has 14 hits — two of which were doubles, two were home runs — and he has driven in nine runs. It appears that Tebow’s promotion to the St. Lucie Mets may have been just what he needed.
Perhaps, it is being back in his home state of Florida. Maybe one day he will make it to the majors? Or maybe it’s just pure dumb luck? We may never know.
Yet on Thursday, after four away games in which they split the series with the Jupiter Hammerheads and a rainout on Wednesday when they were supposed to face the Cincinnati Reds’ affiliate Daytona Tortugas, the St. Lucie Mets were finally back at their home-field for a double header.
After winning the first game 1-0 over the Tortugas on a home run in the fourth inning by 22-year-old first baseman and Mets’ second round draft pick in 2016, Peter Alonso, they went into the seventh and final inning of the second game of their double-header with the Tortugas tied 4-4.
After the hero of the first game, Alonso, popped out to the catcher in foul territory, it was Tebow’s turn to hit. He was the DH for the night and was hitting fifth in the lineup.
Tebow stepped up to plate with one out in the bottom of the seventh against Tortugas’ pitcher Austin Orewiler.
He took a first pitch fastball that was right down the middle and hit his third home run since joining the St. Lucie Mets — his sixth of the season, in his 80th game — and chaos ensued from both the fans and his teammates.
Tebow was doused in Gatorade and surrounded by his teammates as he touched home plate. It was the first walk-off he had hit since his junior year in high school. His high school walk off was special but to Tebow this one was even better.
“It was fun to celebrate with all the guys. (The high school homer) was for the district championship. That felt pretty good, but this one was special.”
Tebow is currently on an 11-game hitting streak during which he is batting 0.327 with 10 RBIs for St. Lucie. Interestingly, all three of his home runs for St. Lucie have gone to the opposite field, which is pretty impressive.
Later, Tebow talked about his secret for going oppo.
“The goal is just to stay behind as many balls as I can. See it, let it get deep. When you stay behind it, it goes the other way.”
If only it were so easy for all baseball players. Perhaps Tebow and Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees (who hit quite a few opposite field home runs in the MLB Home Run Derby on Monday) should give tutorials — if they have the same approach that is.
Then again Judge has 30 home runs this season and Tebow has six, so maybe that wouldn’t be a good idea after all.
Still, as much as some may want to dismiss the success Tebow is having with the St. Lucie Mets, you really can’t. An 11-game hitting streak with three opposite field homers? Pretty impressive.
However, there’s always a chance that he could go into a slump at any time, just like he did with the Columbia Fireflies and, at the same time, there’s a chance he may simply slow down a bit but still keep his numbers up while with St. Lucie. He may even be promoted to Double-A ball. One day we may even see Tebow in the big leagues.
This is baseball, anything can happen.
[Featured Image by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]