Tim Tebow, former NFL quarterback turned Double-A baseball player, has improved to the point where he’s giving himself a “chance to get to the major leagues.”
According to several assessments, Tebow has advanced far beyond where he was when he first entered Major League Baseball’s farm system and is now “suddenly looking like a pro baseball player,” according to The New York Post.
When he first announced his decision to make a try at a pro baseball career, many — both in the game and among sports reporters — laughed off his attempt as a cheap publicity stunt or a childish, easily dismissible pipe dream.
Indeed, when he first began playing he was far from impressive. He was no dog, granted, but the scoffers continued saying that he would never have the stuff for MLB.
Still, fans loved him and they flocked to see him play. Many minor teams admitted that any time Tebow was playing on their fields, their attendance exploded. And he was generous with his time, too, signing autographs and posing for photos where ever he went.
Despite the naysayers, Tebow began showing signs of improvement in his baseball skills and some began to take a second look. And now, his play has gotten to the point where it is beginning to look like he is a real prospect.
“He looks like a different guy than last year,” Double-A Hartford manager Warren Schaeffer told the Post.
“I saw him last year at [Single-A] Columbia. He’s come a really long way,” Schaeffer continued. “He’s a tough out right now. We had a really tough time against Tim Tebow. He hits fastballs well. He’s a strong kid. His approach has gotten a lot better. He’s spitting on pitches now he wasn’t early on this year. You can tell he works hard.”
According to the rundown offered by the paper, Tebow’s numbers are coming in strong compared to last year:
Though his overall numbers for Binghamton aren’t overly impressive — Tebow had a slash line of .256/.335/.402 with five home runs and 27 RBIs through Monday — his .737 OPS through 224 plate appearances is 81 points better than the mark he posted a year ago. And over his previous 18 games, he batted .321 (17-for-53) with an impressive .848 OPS. He hit safely in 11 of his previous 15 games and had a stellar 315/.362/.481 slash line this month.
Schaeffer went on praising Tebow for his hard work and for the big improvements he has made, especially in his fastball hitting. And Schaeffer isn’t alone. John Schneider, the manager of Double-A New Hampshire, also found Tebow’s improvement noteworthy.
Schneider noted that Tebow went from 126 missed swings last year to only 82 this year and had vastly improved on his 61 percent groundball rate from last season.
“To hold your own after being out of it for however long he had been, you got to give the guy credit,” Schneider enthusiastically noted. “Baseball is a hard thing, and hitting is a really hard thing. To show improvement and hold his own here in Double-A is pretty impressive.”
Among others the paper quoted, Double-A Harrisburg manager and former MLB player Matt LeCroy also praised Tebow’s effort saying that he is doing better than many players who have been in Double-A for six years already.
“A lot of people probably thought he could not do that and now he’s starting to thrive in Double-A,” LeCroy said. “If you can play in this league, you can probably give yourself a chance to get up to the major leagues.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.