AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File

Tim Tebow Invited to Spring Training Despite Horrible 2019 Season

Tim Tebow is a master of deception. After dominating for the University of Florida Gators as a running back disguised as a quarterback, the Heisman Trophy winner became a first-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. When he left the NFL after three seasons, Tebow took up baseball after not playing since his days at Nease High School. His smiling face filled the seats at every level of the New York Mets organization, and last season, he climbed up to Mets' Triple-A affiliate, the Syracuse Mets.

But Tebow's kind-heart isn't translating to success on the diamond. Tebow's being exposed by real baseball players and posted one of the worst seasons by anyone in the minor leagues in 2019. Tebow's microscopic .163 batting average and .240 on-base percentage both ranked dead last in the International League at one point. He finished with 98 strikeouts in 239 plate appearances before a left pinky cut ended his year, making it two-straight years with season-ending injuries.

At least Tebow hasn't lost his attitude, though.

Tebow stepped in to play peacekeeper during a Mets game against the New York Yankees affiliate Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Scranton's Mike Ford hit a home run to break the game's tie in the seventh inning, then Mets reliever Arquimedes Caminero plunked Breyvic Valeras on the very next at-bat. A benches-clearing brawl ensued.

But who wound up right in the middle of it, separating the two teams, and probably asking each other to kindly shake hands? The unmistakable No. 15 jersey you know as Tim Tebow.

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The Mets' Caminero and Danny Espinosa were ejected. Valeras and Logan Morrison of the RailRiders were both ejected as well, according to Conor Foley of the Times-Tribune.

Tebow's MiLB All-Star season back in 2018 with the Double-A level Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Yeah, they're real) is a long-forgotten memory. Tebow managed only four home runs and 19 RBIs last season as the Mets' starting left fielder and was continually exposed. It's impressive the 31-year-old made it this far considering how few baseball players actually reach the Triple-A level, but he's more of a celebrity to sell tickets than anything else.

I mean, Tebow struck out looking at an 88 mph fastball (some MLB pitchers throw their change-up that hard) against the Buffalo Bison's Jordan Patterson.

For the record, Jordan Patterson is an outfielder who'd never pitched in a professional baseball game before.

I really thought Tebow Time was coming to the major leagues. Tebow might not be a legitimate MLB prospect, but his name alone, and the fact that he had a decent season in 2018, could have carried him into a role with the New York Mets last year.

Heading into the 2020 season, however, Tebow was one of 15 players included among the Mets' spring training non-roster invites, according to USA Today. The MLB club's loaded outfield depth, however, means Tebow is likely to never reach the majors even if he shines in St. Lucie, Florida. And unless he figures out how to rebound after a historically bad slump, he'll be another minor leaguer whose time is running out.

Then again, I doubt many minor league baseball players have a Heisman Trophy sitting on their mantle back home.

This article was originally published May 29, 2019.

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