JUPITER, Fla. — Returning to baseball after his weekend job as a college football analyst, Mets outfield prospect Tim Tebow didn’t miss a beat Monday.
The Marlins threw five different pitchers — three righties and two lefties — at the 29-year-old former NFL quarterback, who was playing his first away game in the Instructional League.
Playing five innings in leftfield and batting in every inning, Tebow hit a sharp single and drew a walk in five plate appearances.
Twelve of the 20 pitches he saw were strikes, and he got at least a piece of each one.
Tebow and the Mets were supposed to have one more game this week — Thursday against the Cardinals — before Instructional League ends, but the Cardinals have canceled that game.
There was no media availability after the game and the Mets have not announced Tebow’s next assignment.
Most of the pitchers Tebow faced last week were 18 to 21 years old, but the youngest of the five Marlins pitchers Tebow saw Monday were 23-year-olds Jarlin Garcia, a Dominican lefty who finished this season with nine appearances for Double-A Jacksonville (Tebow’s hometown), and Dustin Beggs, who reached short-season Class A Batavia.
Beggs, a 16th-round pick in June out of the University of Kentucky, was one of two former SEC pitchers Tebow faced. The other was righthander Drew Steckenrider, 25, a 2012 draftee out of Tennessee.
Tebow’s hardest-hit ball of the day was a lineout to deep rightfield off a 91-mph fastball from Beggs in his last at-bat. Earlier, he drew a seven-pitch walk from Steckenrider, who finished the season 7-for-7 in save opportunities as the closer for the Marlins’ Triple-A club.
Tebow’s hit was a hard ground single through the middle on an 87-mph cutter from lefthander James Buckelew, 25, who spent the bulk of the season at advanced Class A Jupiter.
Tebow’s other two at-bats were groundouts — a sharp two-hopper to the third baseman on a 95-mph fastball from 24-year-old Jeff Brigham, an advanced Class A pitcher (Jupiter), and a four-hopper to second base on a 95-mph fastball from Garcia.
Nearly 400 people took advantage of free admission to attend Mets Instructional League games last week in Port St. Lucie, but Tebow’s legions did not follow him for the 40-minute trip to Jupiter. Only about 100 came to the game Monday. It was a school holiday in Palm Beach County, but St. Lucie County students did not have the day off.