The New York Mets finally gave an official answer to the question of where Tebowmania will reside for the start of the 2018 season: in the Eastern League with the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies. The Eastern League should see the full effects of Tebowmania, but Tim Tebow isn’t coming to the season on a great note to say the least.
To say the least.
While he was with the Mets in Major League camp, the former Florida quarterback struggled mightily at the plate. In just seven spring training games, he was 1-for-18 with 11 strikeouts (had a golden sombrero in his final spring game). Although it was a small sample size, that was still the ninth-most strikeouts of any player in camp.
If this was a merit-based spring training promotion, then Tebow would be in Port St. Lucie with the High-A club, not with Binghamton. From this perspective, it points out a deeper problem in the Mets farm system: outfield depth at the upper levels of the farm system.
With Philip Evans and Juan Lagares as bench options in the big leagues, that doesn’t leave much at Triple-A Las Vegas. If you look at their projected options (courtesy of Roster Resource) at the corner outfield, names that pop up include Zach Borenstein, Kevin Kaczmarski, and Matt den Dekker.
On John’s list of the Top 20 prospects in the Mets organization, only one of those players is an outfielder. That player is Desmond Lindsey, who was taken by New York in the second round back in 2015, but hasn’t got past the Florida State League in his two years with the organization.
Now, Lindsey’s status does not affect Tebow in any way because Lindsey has been primarily a center fielder while Tebow plays left field. If there is one name that could move up to Double-A and take Tebow’s spot down the road, it would probably be Wuilmer Becerra.
Becerra has spent the last two seasons at Port St. Lucie. He had 125 hits last season, which was the third most on the team, and he had 16 stolen bases. However, he only had a .335 slugging percentage and his 132 strikeouts were the fifth most in the entire Florida State League.
As for who are the other outfielders that Tebow will be playing with in Binghamton next Thursday, Adam Rubin broke the news on Wednesday on his Twitter feed of which affiliate certain players were starting their 2018 season:
Binghamton position players: Mazeika, Moore, Nido, Alonso, Ely, McNeill, Michael, Sergakis, K. Taylor, Mora, Stuart, TEBOW, Urena— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinMedia) March 29, 2018
Now, if you had to pick one name to watch in the Rumble Ponies outfield besides Tebow, keep an eye on Kevin Taylor. Taylor was a 36th Round pick by the Dodgers in 2011, but the 26-year-old had 20 doubles last season with the Rumble Ponies (one of five players to accomplish that feat). Plus, he hit .292 with 46 runs batted in and walked more times (54) than he struck out (53) in 114 games.
When you look at Sandy Alderson’s drafts going back to 2011, the Mets have selected 27 players who have gone on to play the outfield. Out of those 27, only four have gone on to make their big league debuts. Those four are Evans, Travis Tajieron, Brandon Nimmo, and Michael Conforto. Now, it is an inexact science since some players get drafted as infielders and end up moving to the outfield during their development.
It will be interesting to see how Tebow does at Double-A. I am one of those people who are in favor of Tebow getting a chance to compete, but his bad spring leaves a lot of concern as he heads up to a level where a call-up for most players isn’t too far away.
New York has to get better at in their development is in the outfield. They have found good ones with Conforto and Nimmo, but they haven’t had many others who have been able to get up to the big leagues. New York has drafted four outfielders in three of the last four drafts. Will that trend continue in 2018?