Tebowmania could be headed to a minor-league stadium near you.
That is, if you live somewhere along the Atlantic coastline between New Jersey and Georgia.
The next installment of the Tim Tebow baseball experiment will take the former Heisman Trophy winner to South Carolina for a stint with the Columbia Fireflies, the Mets’ low Class-A affiliate in the South Atlantic League.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said Tebow will head to Columbia to work on his skills as a corner outfielder and get regular at-bats with the Fireflies.
“Sending him to a full season club is what we hoped to be able to do,” Alderson told Newsday on Monday. “And based on what he’s done in spring training, and his whole body of work since last fall, we feel comfortable with him going to Columbia.”
Tebow is hitting .235 in spring training so far, but has only played in seven games. The hope is that Tebow continues to develop with consistent live game action, which he will get plenty of in Low-A ball. Tebow’s most notable spring training moments include a multi-hit game and a pretty incredible diving catch he made in right field.
“He’s obviously very athletic and he has adapted very quickly,” Alderson said. “His approach at the plate is very solid. He doesn’t chase pitches. People might say his swing is a little long but the swing is professional. When he’s made contact, it’s often been hard contact … Defensively, it’s still a work in progress but it’s adequate. He’s made some nice plays, again demonstrating the athleticism that everybody’s seen he has.”
And while the Fireflies have already begun advertising Tebow’s arrival on social media, Alderson insists that the Tebow experiment is not a publicity stunt and that he’s not taking a roster spot away from a more deserving player.
“That’s such a bogus argument,” Alderson said. “We’ve got lots of room for lots of players at lots of different levels. The fact that he’s starting at Columbia, he’s really not taking anybody’s spot. By the way, we have lots of players in our organization who are just that: organizational players. Not every player that we have is a top prospect, whose opportunity is being curtailed by Tim Tebow or anybody else.”
Tebow is expected to make his debut with the Fireflies in their season opener on April 6 against the Augusta GreenJackets.