The Tim Tebow baseball experiment is moving to South Carolina. The New York Mets announced on Monday that the former Florida Gators star will be assigned to the Columbia (S.C.) Fireflies, their Low-A affiliate, when the season begins, giving him a chance to play regularly in the team’s farm system as he tries to build a baseball career.
Sandy Alderson, the Mets general manager, told Newsday that sending Tim Tebow to a full-season club is ideal and what the organization was hoping for. He continued to say that what he had done in Spring Training, and all of his work since last fall, they are comfortable with him joining the Fireflies.
The Mets’ decision to assign Tim Tebow to the Fireflies will allow him to play almost every day as an outfielder at the lowest full-season level in the team’s organization. The Mets had the option of sending Tebow down to the short-season A Brooklyn Cyclones, the lowest non-rookie league level in their organization, but decided he would be best served by starting the season in South Carolina in April rather than waiting until June when the Cyclones begin their season.
Tebow’s performance in spring training made the Mets’ decision substantially easier. Alderson admitted that he had been worried that Tebow might be overmatched while playing in spring training games, but the outfielder has hit .235 in six games with the Mets, giving the team’s front office confidence that although he might not be anywhere near ready for the major leagues, he can at least serve as a competent outfielder in the minors while learning how to play the game at the professional level.
“We’ve got lots of room for lots of players at lots of different levels,” Alderson said. He continued to say that since he is starting in Columbia, he is not taking a spot from anyone. He also said that there are a lot of organizational players with the Mets at all levels, and that not every player is considered a top prospect, so Tebow is not curtailing anyones opportunity with the club.
With the Fireflies, Tebow will mostly be facing players who went to the minor leagues straight out of high school and are either top prospects starting their career or players in their third year or later who are still chasing the dream of the majors. When the Mets signed Tim Tebow last year, the Fireflies sent out a picture of Tebow wearing one of their jerseys, and their foresight has come to fruition.
“These things don’t happen too often,” Fireflies president John Katz said. “You don’t get athletes that have a broad appeal from so many demographics. So much about Tim Tebow is appealing to folks. You got an athlete to have success at so many different levels. For him to be able to go out and chase his dreams playing minor league baseball is amazing.”
For his part, Tebow sounded excited about coming to Columbia, a city where he had success on the gridiron while leading Florida past South Carolina. The Fireflies are members of the South Atlantic League, which stretches from Georgia to New Jersey, potentially sending Tim Tebow through seven states this season. Columbia opens its season on April 6 against Augusta (Ga.).
Readers, will we see Tebow win promotion from Low-A baseball? Does he have a chance to make it to New York? Or will he simply be another organizational player for the Mets? Sound off in the comments below and like and share this story!
Commentary by Dan Angell
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