BROOKLYN — While everybody dissected Tim Tebow’s promotion to Class-A St. Lucie, the Mets’ short-season Brooklyn Cyclones could have benefited from Tebow’s bat, suffering a 5-3 loss to the Hudson Valley Renegades Sunday.
Left-hander Jake Simon (0-1, 5.79 ERA), making his second start of the year, went 5 1/3 innings allowing six hits, three earned runs, two walks and punched out three. However, it was reliever Gregorix Estevez, who surrendered two runs (one earned) in the ninth that sealed Brooklyn’s fate.
Entering the final frame, the Cyclones nearly doubled their hit output as back-to-back doubles from Walter Rasquin and Jose Miguel Medina made it a 5-3 game, giving Brooklyn five hits on the evening. After Reed Gamache coaxed a walk, Jose Maria (pop out) and Carl Stajduhar (double play) ended the game.
In three home games at MCU Park this year, the Cyclones have combined for just 11 runs whereas the team managed 16 runs during a recent three-game road series against the Vermont Lake Monsters. So, that raises the question: Would a Tim Tebow demotion to the short-season Class-A Cyclones have been more helpful to the Brooklyn offense?
“That’s a good question, I don’t know man,” Cyclones manager Edgardo Alfonzo said after his team’s loss on Sunday. “He might bring a lot of fans and it would put a lot of pressure on the guys [in Brooklyn].”
Tebow’s presence has been a draw so far this season as the Fireflies’ attendance this season has risen over 40 percent from 2016 — the team has averaged 5,230 fans, which leads the South Atlantic League, according to the Post and Courier. Attendance totals aside, the former Heisman Trophy winner has posted the best offensive numbers, sporting a .220/.336/.648 slash line with three home runs (HRs), 23 runs batted in (RBIs), 69 strikeouts, 23 walks, and seven errors as the left fielder through 63 games with Columbia.
However, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told a scrum of reporters, including New York Daily News’ Kristie Ackert, about the team’s decision to promote the 29-year-old before New York’s series finale against the Giants in San Francisco.
“His on-base, his isolated power, his swing, exit velocity. A lot of different things have been much better in the last 15 games or something like that,” Alderson said. “On the other hand, we recognize this is not a usual circumstance, but we just felt, everything involved, it was about the right time for him to move to high-A ball.”
Tebow familiarized himself with most of the athletes in the Mets organization during Spring Training this season. One of Tebow’s spring teammates is current Cyclones outfielder/first baseman Jeremy Wolf, a Mets 31st round pick in 2016. The 23-year-old was a high school student when Tebow was setting records at Florida State University and finds the Tebow experience entertaining.
“When I was in high school and middle school and Tim Tebow was winning Heisman Trophies, I never thought I’d be in a Mets uniform with Tebow on a bus,” Wolf said to Hardball Scoop before Sunday’s contest. “[In Spring Training] he told me, he goes, ‘I’m doing this because I have the ability to and I want to be an example for people.’”
Despite the criticism Tebow has drawn for hanging up his helmet and shoulder pads in favor of a glove and a bat, Wolf feels that he and most other players don’t view Tebow in a jealous or negative light.
“He’s a hard worker, he’s a good dude and he gets to play baseball, he got to play football and he gets to do what little kids want to do,” Wolf added. “He is a baseball player…he’s got the mindset that he wants to win.”
Alfonzo, unaware of Sunday’s promotion until he was informed postgame, was unsure of how poor or well Tebow’s first professional season was going. But he wished Tebow well in his future with Class-A St. Lucie.
“Good for him,” Alfonzo said.