Posted on August 31, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow got his chance to display his baseball skills in a showcase for major league teams on Tuesday. Tebow garnered mixed reviews during a roughly two-hour workout on the USC campus. There were representatives from 28 of the 30 MLB teams in attendance, with only the Cubs and Athletics declining to send scouts to watch Tebow’s showcase.
According to those in attendance, Tebow was most impressive with the bat. While taking batting practice from former big league pitchers David Aardsma and Chad Smith, Tebow sprayed line drives and hit several balls over the fence, displaying an impressive amount of raw power. Of course, that may not be so surprising for a former football player whose agents list him at 6′ 3” and 255 pounds. “That was big power,” said one scout. “He was mis-hitting the ball out of the park.”
However, Tebow was a little less impressive during live batting practice when the velocity of the pitches was ramped up. He still managed to make solid contact, but with less regularity. Tebow also struggled to hit breaking balls and changeups thrown by Aardsma and Smith. “I thought he was OK. Better than I expected, to be honest,” assessed one anonymous scout. “For not having played as long as he had, I thought he did OK.”
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Tebow also ran the 60-yard dash at the showcase, being timed between 6.65 and 6.82 seconds, which would put him right around the major league average. In defensive drills, Tebow made all the routine catches, leading scouts to assess him as a potential average defensive player in center field, but nothing spectacular.
Perhaps surprisingly for the former quarterback, his arm did not get rave reviews, although he was never touted as the most accurate NFL passer. Most scouts graded his arm as slightly below average. Such an evaluation could push Tebow to left field, although it could be worthwhile to play him in center field.
Afterwards, Tebow admitted to being nervous for the showcase. “When you’re at the combine or a pro day, you have your body of work for four years, everything that you did, so it’s not just that one day. Here, you might have seen me when I was 17, but you haven’t seen me since. A lot goes into it, so you’d better show something. A lot of nerves, a lot of pressure, for sure.”
Aardsma, who has been working with Tebow, said Tebow was far from his best on Tuesday. “Today was the worst I’ve seen him,” Aardsma said. “It looked like he was trying really hard, overswinging a bit. It’s what you do when you’ve got 200 people and cameras everywhere and you’re the only guy they’re watching.”
After the workout, Tebow reiterated that this is not a publicity stunt and that his interest in a baseball career is genuine. “It’s definitely not about money. I took a pay cut to do this,” he explains. “For me, you pursue what you love regardless of what else happens. If you fail or fall flat on your face, and that’s the worst thing that can happen, it’s OK. When did pursuing what you love become such a bad thing? I’ll make all the sacrifices to be the best I can.”
A small number of teams spoke to Tebow privately after the showcase, leading one to think that he may get an offer from a major league club. On Monday, Tebow received an offer to play winter ball from a team in Venezuela. Tebow is hoping to get an offer from a major league organization and then go to instructional league with that team before playing winter ball. For now, all he can do is wait and hope he gets offered a contract by a major league club.