Mets minor league outfielder Tim Tebow is one step away from being a big-league player, Mets GM and former Tebow agent Brodie Van Wagenen said Wednesday on WFAN.
"If we somehow suffered an injury and we needed somebody to replace Brandon Nimmo or Michael Conforto in the starting lineup, and if Tim Tebow is the best offensive player in Triple-A at that point in time, he's going to be in [Mickey Callaway's] lineup," Van Wagenen said.
Van Wagenen, who made similar comments in early November, also said he expects Tebow to open 2019 playing for the organization's new Triple-A affiliate in Syracuse.
Tebow showed progress last summer during what was his second minor league season since being signed as a free agent at the end of 2016.
In 84 games last season, he hit .273 with six home runs and 46 RBI in Double-A, where he also earned a spot in the Eastern League All-Star game. His season was cut short in July after breaking the hamate bone in his right hand.
"He's a guy that is fueled by challenges and I think we're excited to get him back into camp and -- hopefully after a trip to Syracuse -- he can prove to us and everybody in baseball that he can make an impact in the big leagues," Van Wagenen concluded.
It's natural to react to these comments with laughter and a gigantic eye roll.
In terms of his baseball talent, Tebow is developing in a typical way for a prospect. The thing is, he's 31 years old and has yet to get an at-bat above Double-A. This alone is reason to doubt his upward mobility.
However, in spring training back in February, then-Mets GM Sandy Alderson made a similar statement to what Van Wagenen has twice said.
"I think he will play in the major leagues, that's my guess and that's my hope," declared Alderson.
The next day, Mets manager Mickey Callaway said the team planned to evaluate Tebow like anybody else in camp. And, to be honest, I I'll never forget the look in Callaway's eye and the intensity with which he watched Tebow's one and only press conference during Spring Training.
As I've said before, Callaway didn't look like a guy in awe of a football sensation, nor did he look like a casual viewer. He looked to be paying attention to something more than a coach watching a potential fourth outfielder...
"The goal is to get to the major leagues, for sure," Tebow said during an appearance earlier this year while promoting his book on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. "No one thinks I can do it, but I love trying to prove people wrong so I'm excited about the challenge."
Tebow received an invite to major league Spring Training this past spring, and he'll obviously be in St. Lucie again this coming February.
I want so badly to join the chorus of skeptics that hover above Tebow's entire career. But, I can't, because -- much to my desire to feel otherwise -- I left last February feeling thankful that he's in the organization. Because, as crazy as it sounds, I continue to think his personality, positivity, and passion alone may be worthy of a roster spot.
The fact is, he has developed legit relationships with teammates, most of whom grew up idolizing and being inspired by him as a college football God. I have no idea what any of that means to a major league baseball team, especially as it pertains to winning and losing, and helping teammates be more productive versions of themselves.
However, I'm thinking maybe Alderson, Callaway and Van Wagenen do. And, sooner than later, we may too.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!