Posted by Thomas Brennan at 12:00 PM
Tebow through Wednesday was 3 for 28 with 2 walks in the AFL...who could be that bad, huh? Uhh...well-seasoned, competent Mets AA 1B Matt Oberste had been up 19 times, made out 19 times. It happens. Get 'em next time.
Others may choose to lack impulse control and dump on Tebow's AFL efforts, but I still refuse to over-judge Tebow in limited results against steep competition with no career ramp-up, and prefer to see what he does next season, most likely opening up with Columbia or even St Lucie. Why not?
He has a resume as a tremendously driven guy who has achieved real success despite limited QB skills in the pressure cooker called the NFL.
None of the Mets' lower minor guys has experienced ANY real pressure, by comparison. Not even close.
Besides, it is not like we have a million great OF prospects in the lower minors. Just as a for-instance, Brooklyn the past 2 years had very close to the lowest team batting average in league history. He's probably as good or better than all of them from those 2 years. And he has power, a truly scarce commodity in the lower minors.
So let me elaborate, and let's run down his Mets' minors OF competitors vs. Tebow, with an objective eye's view:
Desmond Lindsay did great (.297/.418/.450). There's one Tebow competitor for ya.
But the other primary Cyclones OF's (Gene Cone, Arnaldo Berrios, Jay Jabs, Henglebert Rojas, and Jacob Zanon) combined for 779 at bats with 153 hits, collectively under .200, with Cone leading the pack at a meager .227. Was it because they were swinging madly for the fences? No, they combined for just 3 dingers. Pretty awful.
A few pretty good ones - Ricardo Cespedes was .322/.356/.379 - he is clearly headed for Brooklyn or even a step up to Columbia, but Ricky does not turn 20 until late August. I say challenge him in Columbia. Jose Miguel Medina, 20, lined up well at .286/.358/.394. But then off the cliff...Ian Strom hit in the .220"s and Will Baring got released, so I see 2 possible competitors for Tebow in Cespedes and Medina, but both are likely too green in 2017 to make him lose ABs.
GULF COAST LEAGUE METS OF's:
No outfielders impressed at all so, simply put, no competitors for Tebow in that low-rookie ball squad.
In summary, only one real competitor (Desmond Lindsay) for Tebow for a Columbia or higher starting OF spot in 2017 ...and that assumes Tebow starts out in Columbia, which I doubt he will.
So now, let's look at Columbia and St Lucie's OF's - how is the competition there?
ST LUCIE OF'S:
Four did well enough to be jumped up to AA ball in 2017 (averages in St Lucie are reflected): Kevin Kaczmarski (.301), Wuilmer Becerra (.312), Pat Biondi (.271), and Champ Stuart (.265). But the 4 only combined for 7 homers in 1,015 at bats, a major red alert (they did, however, steal 66 of 79 there, so they are quick to the after-game food spread).
Champ actually also got 184 at bats in AA, but the speedster's .201 average there, and huge strikeout rate, makes him highly questionable ceiling-wise, but likely he'll start out in AA, as I expect will the other 3. Kaczmarski (who started the season slowly in Columbia in April before hitting .300 the rest of his time there until his St Lucie promotion) seems clearly to be the best contact hitter in the group, seems to have a lot of Nimmo in him, and conceivably could skip AA and go straight to AAA.
Vinnie Lupo, Enmanuel Zabala, Ivan Wilson, Joe Tuschak - only EZ Rider did good there - .280/.330/.339 with a homer in 50 games. So...one good 4th OF(?) for St Lucie next year. Won't reduce Tebow's elbow room at getting in the line up.
Getting redundant...no good ones - maybe Jayce Boyd, but my guess is he heads to AAA to play 1B or OF. He's not been the same hitter since his major injury a few years back, and is lacking in HR power and foot speed.
OK, I covered every level below AAA. Heck with this collectively anemic hitting, powerless group of outfielders, powerful Tim Tebow could almost start in AAA, but that would likely be too drastic and steep an incline. But unless Timmy T decides to calls it quits in the weeks ahead, there is absolutely no reason (given the competition, or lack thereof) that he can't be a starting OF in Columbia or St Lucie in the spring.
My guess? They try the sink or swim approach with the 29 year old and start him out in St. Lucie, hoping he can quickly get to Binghamton and Vegas next year on merit.
Go, Tebow, go. I for one am pulling for you.