Posted on October 4, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
The Tim Tebow baseball saga continues, and it will soon move to the Arizona Fall League. Tebow, who signed a minor league contract with the New York Mets last month, recently wrapped up a stint in instructional league, where he played in games against other minor league prospects for the first time. Unfortunately, instructional league has been cut short due to Hurricane Matthew’s inevitable impact on the state of Florida. However, the Mets announced Tuesday that Tebow will be playing in the Arizona Fall League, where he will continue to get experience playing against other minor leaguers.
Tebow is a late-addition to the Fall League roster, but the Mets made the move in hopes of getting Tebow as much game experience as possible before the start of spring training next year. “We want Tim to play in more games to continue developing his skills on the field while facing advanced competition,” said Mets GM Sandy Alderson following the announcement Tuesday that Tebow would be going to Arizona.
Tebow is not the typical Arizona Fall League prospect. It’s common to see teams send some of their top prospects to the AFL to help further their development and increase their major league readiness. The league is sometimes considered “MLB finishing school” for the game’s top prospects. It’s also common for teams to send prospects there who have missed time due to injury during the season or challenge previously unheralded prospects who posted impressive numbers the previous season but don’t necessarily stand out in terms of raw ability.
The fact that the Mets are choosing to use one of their designated AFL spots on Tebow speaks highly of the former quarterback, as teams don’t exactly pick names out of a hat when choosing AFL participants. There’s no doubt that the league will be a challenge for someone like Tebow who spent more than a decade away from baseball. However, getting as many reps as possible in the Arizona Fall League will be a good way to evaluate Tebow’s progress thus far and see what level of the minors is most appropriate for him next season.
Time is not on the side of the 29-year old Tebow, and so he needs to work his way to the big leagues as soon as possible or he may not get there at all. Prospects from all levels of the minors come to the AFL, although the league is generally considered to be equivalent to playing at double-A. If Tebow can hold his own in the AFL, it could signal that he’s ready to start the 2017 season higher up the minor league ladder than some have predicted.
In three instructional league games, Tebow was 4 for 14 with two walks. He also hit a home run on the first pitch he saw as a professional player in a game setting. Tebow also played left field during instructional league, but did not have many opportunities to prove himself as a fielder.
As one would expect, Tebow is excited to go to the AFL and prove himself against some of the best prospects in the game. “Working in the instructional league has been a lot of fun and productive,” Tebow said Tuesday. “We worked hard and I was able to see a lot of pitches and work on different things. There was great coaching and I tried to improve every day. I plan to use the Fall League as an opportunity to improve. It’s a blessing and a great opportunity.”
Tebow will play for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League. The team’s first game is on October 11.