MESA, Arizona — Regarding Tim Tebow’s future in baseball, the needle has not moved very much.
After six games for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League, Tebow is hitting just .100, with two hits and an RBI in 20 at-bats, including seven strikeouts. Tebow, the former NFL quarterback who turned 29 in August, started out 0-for-12 in Arizona, but has picked it up a bit this week with his first two hits. Still, that hasn’t changed the opinion of Tebow’s future as a baseball player for one scout
“Is [Tebow] a prospect? No, I don’t think he is,” said the scout, who has seen Tebow play in several games. “Time is a factor with him, and he needs time to develop his skill sets. In the outfield, he needs to learn different angles, like how to pivot, and how to react on the ball off the bat. I’m not impressed with his arm. His body is too straight, like standing up in the pocket and trying to throw a football.”
Tebow last played baseball in high school over 12 years ago and it appears he would likely need a few years, and not a few weeks in Arizona, to reach a level acceptable in the Mets’ organization.
“At his age, he doesn’t have too many years to perfect his skills,” said another scout who took notes and displayed a radar gun at Scottsdale’s game Tuesday afternoon against the Mesa Solar Sox. “I’d like to see him do well, but he has too many things to learn.”
Given his physicality, Tebow could have an advantage as a prospect. Listed at 6-3 and 255 pounds, he is not far removed from football condition and the demands of the NFL game. Powerful and commanding, those physical aspects may be beneficial, but, in the long run, this is a far different game than the last time he played regularly.
“Moving forward, [Tebow] needs to learn pitch recognition, and, if he’s in the outfield, to recognize the ball coming off the bat,” said Mets’ first base coach Tom Goodwin, who manages the Scottsdale team. “That’s not easy. You need to know where the ball may project in the air, and adjust. Tim is working hard and trying to get it right. So far, so good.”
Tebow has been playing left field in the Arizona Fall League, which one scout said is the easiest position to play. The scout suggested the Mets try Tebow at first base. Plus, there’s always the option of trading Tebow to an American League organization and seeing if his role as a designated hitter might be successful.
Tebow got his first hit in Arizona on Tuesday afternoon. That was a sharp single to left in the fifth inning off Mesa starter Duane Underwood, who went a combined 0-6 with four different minor league teams in the Cubs organization this past summer. He followed with a solid hit to left on Wednesday night.
Because timing is an obvious issue, Tebow hits almost everything to the opposite field. A left-handed hitter, he has yet to display solid contact to the outfield. At the same time, he shows no sign of driving the ball into the gaps and in the right center-field power alley.
“I’ve been impressed with his overall approach and pitch recognition,” one scout said. “He’s making adjustments on pitches at the plate and players with little experience rarely do that. At the same time, I’m not sure of the Mets’ intention to assign him here. He’s taking a spot away from a legitimate prospect who is younger and has a greater skill set.”
The question now becomes whether Tebow does enough in Arizona to earn an invitation to spring training.
“You have to earn that invitation,” the scout said. “Players earn the right to a spring training camp. Perhaps he could be in the minor-league camp and get a chance in a B game. With him, there will always be a media circus and that will take away from his ability to concentrate on the game.”