Tim Tebow’s baseball dream is only mostly dead. On Thursday, the New York Mets announced they had signed the erstwhile quarterback and would assign him to the team’s instructional league squad in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
The instructional league is a long way from the majors, and Tebow, who is 29 years old and hasn’t played competitive baseball since 2005, is a long way from prospecthood. How long? I reached out to ESPN’s scouting expert Keith Law to ask where he’d place Tebow in the Mets’ prospect rankings. His response in full:
As Law’s ESPN colleague Adam Rubin pointed out, Tebow isn’t the first non-baseball-playing celebrity to sign with the team. In 2000, the Mets reached an agreement with Garth Brooks on a minor-league deal, adding the country singer to the team’s roster for spring training. “We are part of the entertainment industry, and I think this will add some excitement to our spring,” Mets general manager Steve Phillips said at the time. “I don’t know what sort of impact it will have on crowds, but it will add excitement.” That spring, Brooks—who, like Tebow, played baseball in high school—went 0 for 17 at the plate with four walks, a slight decline from his numbers the previous year, when he hit .045 (1 for 22) as a member of the San Diego Padres.
Brooks’ spring training appearances raised money for his Touch ‘Em All Foundation; the Mets organization and individual players vowed to make donations, which were directed to children’s charities. “I talked to quite a few of our players and our view is the positives outweighs the negatives,” Phillips said. “If there is a distraction, it might be a positive distraction. The press attention that usually falls on the players may fall [on] Garth a bit.”
The Mets’ latest positive distraction will start in instructional league this month and will presumably continue in spring training in 2017. We’ll see then if Tebow is more akin to Brooks, Michael Jordan (.202 in one season of AA), Kevin Costner (0–3 with an error in one spring training game), or Barry Bonds (540 career home runs and an 1.144 OPS from his age-29 season through the end of his career).