By now, every sports media outlet is talking about Tim Tebow and his tryout in Southern California at USC’s baseball stadium, Dedeaux Field, for 28 MLB scouts (the Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics were not in attendance) according to Tebow’s agent. Scouting reports have, in part, been released to the public, which we’ll overview. But before we get into the numbers, let’s talk about Tebow’s tenacity. It seems like we must applaud the guy for going out and doing something that, let’s admit it, is scary. He hasn’t played since high school, forgoing his senior year in order to pursue football wholeheartedly. I appreciate the effort that Tebow is putting into this endeavor, but I can also see why baseball fans are not pleased with this ploy. They think it is unfair because he’s only getting a tryout because of who he is, and that’s a fair point, but who cares? He got his tryout and here’s how it went:
Firstly, here’s how scouts grade prospects: they rank their tools on a 20-80 scale, with 50 being average. But before we break down the analytics, it should be noted that Tebow looked pretty good in batting practice, even crushing balls into the trees behind the right-centerfield fence. Impressive, right? Yes, but those BP balls are coming at 65-75 mph, right where the batter wants it to be placed. So was his sheer strength impressive? Yes. Was his hitting impressive? Let’s hold off on that notion. Once the former major leaguers took to the mound to face Tebow, David Aardsma and Chad Smith, they began to unleash breaking pitches. They were changing speeds and changing location, and frankly, Tebow looked lost. He made decent contact on some pitches, lining a couple to the gap, and showing a little bit of warning track power. But mainly, all Tebow could do was shake his head and grin. After his lackluster performance at the plate, the scouting report that was released rated Tebow for contact and power both at 30, which is well below average. Once guys get into the 30s, they start to be classified as an organizational guy; a guy that won’t make the bigs; a guy that’s just a roster filler in the lower levels of the minor leagues. One scout reported Tebow’s swing as looking “inconsistent”. With a batting stance similar to Travis Hafner, he didn’t quite perform like Hafner might have. To me, his swing looked a bit slower than what is expected in the major leagues. Moreover, it kind of appeared that his hips stayed closed for a little bit too long; additionally, I found his follow through to be too short. Next comes his fielding and throwing. Tebow fielded from right field, shagging flyballs and cutting off balls from entering the gap and getting to the wall. He was able to retrieve all the balls that were hit to him, but they weren’t without problem. Firstly, his footwork was poor; he often took a bad first step, and almost appeared to be stumbling over himself (not literally), and we all know that footwork is a very important component of baseball. Another complaint was how Tebow was catching the ball. He used two hands every single time. That’s technically the correct way to do it, but when you’re using two hands while looking rigid and very uncomfortable, scouts are going to notice. And once he did get to the ball, and loaded up to throw, he looked more like he was throwing a football rather than a baseball. He made mostly average throws, with a couple interspersed that looked pretty good. What did the scouts give him? Fielding: 50; Throwing: 45, which is average and below average, respectively. Finally, running, which was the category in which Tebow performed best. He ran the 60-yard dash in 6.65 to 6.82 seconds, depending on which scout you ask. The conclusion is the rating of a 55, but that wasn’t without complaint about his hips looking locked. With that said, scouts’ reactions were decidedly mixed, ranging from, “complete waste of time,” to, “he was better than I expected.”
So, what is the conclusion? Tebow rated mostly below average, but there’s a pretty good chance he’ll end up playing baseball somewhere. In fact, a respectable professional team in Venezuela, Aguilas del Zulia, offered Tebow a contract, and if he’s serious about this, then that’s probably a good place to start. That will give him the best chance to see where he stands with his skills, and probably give him his best chance to improve his skills. At the very least, a team will sign him just to make extra money that will go towards developing their actual minor league assets. My takeaway is, you might love the game and want to play it, but the fact is you really just can’t pick up one of the toughest games to play after a 10 year hiatus.
Will Tim Tebow get signed? Will he have to go to Venezuela? How far can he make it? Will he ever be seen wearing a Major League uniform? You decide, but I say probably not (which is being optimistic).
(Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images)