Tim Tebow

Tebow and Cecchini Headline Mets Arizona Fall League Players

The Arizona Fall League is a showcase league where Major League teams have the opportunity to not only allow some of their prospects to refine their skills, but also to play in front of other team’s front office personnel. There are six teams total and teams play a 30 game schedule. Here is an in-depth look at who the Mets have assigned to the Scottsdale Scorpions:

Tom Goodwin

Goodwin has been the Mets first base coach since the 2012 season. Goodwin is also responsible for the Mets outfielders and base running instruction.

Goodwin was named as the Scottsdale Scorpions manager leading a team comprised of Mets, Angels, Giants, Phillies, and Yankees minor leaguers.

Gavin Cecchini

The 22-year old Cecchini was the Mets 2012 First Round draft pick and is Mets Minors sixth ranked Mets prospect.

Cecchini was recently added to the Mets 40 man roster, and he was a September call-up.

With the emergence of Amed Rosario, Asdrubal Cabrera having another year on his contract, and Cecchini having defensive issues at shortstop, Cecchini started the transition to second base late in the AAA season. Presumably, Cecchini should see the bulk of his playing time at second base at the Arizona Fall League.

At the plate, Cecchini is a gap-to-gap line drive hitter who has steadily improved and hit for more power at each stop of his minor league career. Last season, his first season in AAA, Cecchini hit .325/.390/.448 with 27 doubles, two triples, eight homers, and 55 RBI.

In his brief playing time with the Mets, we saw a player who was ready to hit major league pitching with the ability to drive the ball into the gap. As he ages and continues to fill-out some of his doubles may eventually turn into home runs.

Marcos Molina

The 21-year old Molina was signed by the Mets in 2011 as a 17 year old international free agent out of the Dominican Republic. If he is not added to the 40-man roster, Molina will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.

When Molina takes the mound for the Scorpions, he will be throwing his first pitch in the 2016 season. After a rough start to the 2015 season, which was in part due to a torn UCL in his pitching elbow. Molina initially tried rest to deal with the injury. However, after three ill-fated and ill-advised outings in August, he would be shut down for the season, and he would undergo Tommy John surgery on October 31st.

Like with any pitcher returning from Tommy John, it is difficult to ascertain what he will be when he finally takes the mound. Prior to his injury, Molina was a pitcher with poor mechanics, which may or may not have attributed to his injury.

When healthy, he had a mid 90’s fastball with an advanced changeup and slider for his age. As noted, his mechanics are still raw, and a result, he has a tendency to change his arm angles on each pitch, which would obviously telegraph the pitch to more experienced hitters.

In his last healthy, season, he dominated in the New York Penn League making 12 starts going 7-3 with a 1.77 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, and 10.7 K/9. For a comparison, he had the type of year Harol Gonzalez had this year with similar stuff at a similar age. However, Gonzalez doesn’t have the mechanical issues Molina did.

Matt Oberste

The 25 year old Oberste was the Mets 2013 seventh round draft pick. If he is not added to the 40-man roster, Oberste will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.

Oberste is coming off a mediocre season for AA Binghamton. While he had appeared to make strides offensively and defensively last year in St. Lucie, he seemed to regress this season in both aspects. In the field, he does not have the range or the arm for third base. With that in mind, he is best suited for first base, where he has shown himself to be an adequate defender. The main issue there is Oberste does not have the bat to play first base.

In his four year professional career, Oberste has not hit for power as evidenced by his career .399 slugging percentage. While he has averaged 22 doubles over the past three years, he has yet to hit double digit homers. Oberste’s bat could justifiably play in the majors at second or a utility position. However, Oberste hasn’t shown the range to prove he could effectively handle either role.

On the bright side, Oberste did have a strong finish to his 2016 campaign. Over July and August, Oberste hit .305/.376/.455 with six doubles, two triples, five homers, and 28 RBI. Overall, Oberste hit .283/.340/.409 with 21 doubles, two triples, nine homers, and 54 RBI for the 2016 season. Obviously, he did most of his damage in July and August. He needs to carry forward what he did those two months into the Arizona Fall League and beyond.

Tomas Nido

Unlike the other Mets prospect, Nido is a taxi squad player meaning he is only available to play on Wednesday and Saturday. The 22-year old Nido was the Mets 2012 eighth round draft pick. If he is not added to the 40-man roster, Nido will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.

No one made a bigger leap in the Mets organization this season than Nido. When drafted, Nido was seen as a good defensive catcher with a strong arm. While he was seen as a player with some offensive promise with some power, that did not prove to be true in his first four major league seasons.

This year Nido put the full package together winning the Florida State League batting title. In 90 games, Nido hit .320/.357/.459 with 23 doubles, two triples, seven homers, and 46 RBI. Behind the plate, he continued to be a good receiver who threw out 42% of base stealers. Nido has a bright future ahead of him, and he appears to be the catcher of the future.

Corey Oswalt

The 23-year old Oswalt was the Mets 2012 7th round draft pick. If he is not added to the 40-man roster, Oswalt will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.

Oswalt is a right-handed pitcher that once projected to be back-end rotation starter. However, Oswalt is being hampered by his mechanics and his inability to repeat his delivery. He was also hampered by his needing knee surgery back in 2013 which has slowed the former high school pitcher’s development. Another issue is Oswalt still has not developed his slider of changeup to the point where they can be an effective pitch for him.

Mostly, Oswalt relies upon a low 90s four-seam fastball and a high 80s two-seam fastball. With him mostly relying on those pitches, he made 13 starts and one relief appearance for St. Lucie going 4-2 with a 4.12 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, and a 9.0 K/9. If Oswalt is unable to develop his other pitches, he may be best suited to moving to the bullpen to see how well he could pitch putting maximum effort on his fastballs for an inning or two.

David Roseboom

The 24-year old Roseboom was the Mets 2014 17th round draft pick. He was named Mets Minors Reliever of the Year.

The collegiate starter was immediately made a bullpen arm by the Mets organization despite his low 90s fastball. However, Roseboom was able to make a name for himself this season by not only combining that fastball with an effective slider and changeup, but also trust his stuff and pounding the strike zone.

Given his success, trades, and promotions, Roseboom found himself as the Binghamton Mets closer. As the B-Mets closer, Roseboom made 26 appearances converting 14 out of 15 saves. In that stretch, Roseboom had a 0.92 ERA and a 0.68 WHIP. Batters were only hitting .110 off of him. All season long, he showed the ability to get both righties and lefties out with righties hitting .189 off of him and lefties hitting .141 off of him. Ultimately, he is a platoon neutral left-hander who has the ability to pitch in high pressure and high leverage situations.

Champ Stuart

The 23-year old Stuart was the Mets 2013 sixth round draft pick. Another player that has to be added to the 40 this offseason to protect from the Rule 5 draft.

Stuart is an elite defensive outfielder that has speed on the bases as evidenced by him stealing 40 this season. The issue with Stuart is that he is a maddening offensive player. He went from hitting .265/.347/.407 in 71 games for Advanced A St. Lucie to hitting .201/.264/.261 in 43 games for AA Binghamton.

While Stuart has tremendous speed, he has not been able to use that speed to get extra base hits. This was the first season he has ever had double digit doubles, and he only had 12. While he has speed, he is still unable to take full advantage of it as he doesn’t hit the ball hard enough to turn singles into doubles and doubles into triples. Ultimately, while the Mets should be fully willing to see how far Stuart’s speed and glove will carry him, if he does not start hitting, he may never make it to the major leagues.

Corey Taylor

Taylor was the Mets 2015 17th round draft pick.

Taylor was a dominant collegiate reliever, and he has proven to be a dominant reliever in the low levels of the minor leagues. Taylor does it with a low 90s fastball and a still developing slider. Basically, he is your prototype of what you think is a Mets pitcher. While he has been working to develop a changeup, it is not yet at the point where it is a reliable pitch for him in games.

Taylor is successful because he uses his fastball to generate an almost inordinate amount of groundballs. In his minor league career, he has a 1.92 ground ball out to fly ball out ratio. Taylor used this pitch to help him have a successful season as the St. Lucie Mets closer. In 45 games, Taylor converted 20 out of 23 save opportunities. Overall, Taylor was 4-5 with a 1.87 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP.

Tim Tebow

As many people know, Tebow was signed by the Mets after he put on a showcase for major league teams. At the showcase, the one skill Tebow showed more than anything else was he had natural power. Everyone saw that power in effect when he hit a home run in his first ever professional at-bat in the Instructional Leagues.

Both Tebow’s proponents and detractors will say he is in the Arizona Fall League to boost attendance and revenues for the Arizona Fall League. As we have seen in Tebow’s NFL and very short baseball career, he attracts a crowd, and assuredly, much like Michael Jordan did back in 1994, he will bring record numbers to the ballpark.

If you are a proponent, you point out how this is a good thing because more revenue and attention is always good for baseball. Furthermore, it is a good thing because it will bring more attention to the players who are playing in the games.

If you are a detractor, you believe this is a bad thing because it is merely a distraction which creates a circus like atmosphere that is not conducive to the true intentions of the Arizona Fall League which is prospect development.

One way Tebow fuels his detractors is that he will get playing time that should have gone to another prospect. However, those 30 games isn’t going to change a team’s opinion on a player. Whether or not Tebow deserves to be on the roster, he is there.

In his short duration in the Instructional Leagues, he did show some ability to play baseball. Given his profile and, yes his marketability, the Mets have every interest in seeing how far he could go as a professional baseball player. The Arizona Fall League will help them in that assessment.

Tebow and the other Mets get their chance starting today as the Scottsdale Scorpions visit the Glendale Desert Dogs at 2:35 PM. Tebow will indeed be in the lineup today to make his AFL debut.

As of right now, there is no published TV schedule for any of the Arizona Fall League games.

Editor’s Note: this was first published on Mets Minors

The Cespedes Fundraiser Has Begun

Recent reports indicate in the likely event Yoenis Cespedes opts out if his contract, the starting point in negotiations will be four years, $100 million. Other industry insiders believe with the run Cespedes has had with the Mets, his next contract will exceed $125 million. Seeing how much Cespedes has meant to the Mets, the team can ill-afford to lose him in free agency no matter what the cost. 

So what exactly does this have to do with Mets minor leaguer Tim Tebow?  Well, Tebow is the golden goose. 

That’s right.  The Mets are selling Tebow jerseys and other Tebow merchandise. Quickly, the Tebow Mets jersey has already become a top seller. Normally, teams would not be permitted to sell jerseys of minor league players who are not on the 40 man roster. However as ESPN’s Darren Rovell reports, Tebow circumvented that by agreeing to a deal directly with Majestic. 

This last point is important. According to ESPN’s Adam Rubin, because Tebow is not part of the MLB licensing deal, the Mets are not required to share the profits from the sale of Tebow merchandise with the other 29 teams. Accordingly, with each and every Tebow jersey sold, the Mets will make exponentially more money on it than they would have if, for example, a fan purchased a Cespedes jersey. 

Overall, this means if you want the Mets to re-sign Cespedes, the best way to show your support for him might just be buying a Tebow jersey. If the Mets sell enough of them, there should be no excuse for the Mets being unable to re-sign Cespedes. 

Why Tim Tebow Makes Sense for the Mets

Because this is Tim Tebow, the Mets signing him is going to elicit a number of strong reactions from all across the spectrum.  However, once the smoke from that clears, what you have left is Tebow in a Mets minor league uniform.  Ultimately it is a decision that makes sense.

Marketing and Gates

During the press conference, Sandy Alderson said the Tebow signing was a purely baseball driven move.  Keep in mind, the Mets say a lot of things that prove to be untrue like their insistence they were not going to bring Jose Reyes back after being released by the Colorado Rockies.  There was also the time that Sandy called Cespedes a “square peg” in discussing why the Mets were not interested in re-signing Cespedes.  Reyes and Cespedes are both wearing Mets jerseys.

The fact of the matter is that while you can argue signing Tebow makes sense from a baseball standpoint (more on that in a minute) his ability to generate revenue cannot be dismissed.

When Tebow signed with the Eagles, he had the 15th best selling NFL jersey.  That was for a guy out of the NFL for a year, and who was unlikely to make the roster.  Fact is, Tebow sells.  He is going to attract fans to the ballpark.  What may seem like peanuts to you or I is a major revenue boost to a minor league affiliate, some of which the Mets own themselves.

Remember, minor league teams do everything they can do to get you to the ballpark with whacky promotions and on field events between innings.  They do everything they can do to get you there short of giving you a turn at bat.  In a world where the Mets have alienated the Buffalo Bisons and were sent to AAA purgatory in Las Vegas, the Tebow signing matters.

It could also generate revenue for the Mets.  There are going to be more than a fair share of people who are online right now ordering Tebow jerseys at MLB.com or at Citi Field.

Men's New York Mets Majestic White/Royal Home Cool Base Custom Jersey

There is also the opportunity for the Mets, if they so chose, to sell Tebow merchandise to generate additional revenue.  There will be a fair share of Tebow fans who may very well purchase a Kingsport Mets or Brooklyn Cyclones Tebow jersey.

Overall, while no one can quite quantify what the revenue boost will be, it is inarguable that Tebow will boost revenues for the Mets organization.

Tebow’s Presence

Generally speaking, Tebow is the type of person you would want to have around younger players.

Throughout his life, Tebow has built up a reputation as a good and devoutly religious person.  He played at Florida and in the NFL, and there was never a scandal or even a cross word about him.  Rather, Tebow was able to keep his nose clean (Mets pun intended), and he built a reputation as not only a good person, but also as a well spoken person.  It’s why when his NFL career was seemingly over, ESPN came calling to ask him to be a commentator.

This is the type of person you want around impressionable young players who are not only trying to find their way into the majors, but also their way in life.  Keep in mind that as an organization, you never falter when you add good people as they can have a positive effect on the others around them.  There are too many prospects that fail not because of talent, but because of attitude and them losing their way off the field.  Hopefully, someone like Tebow can help that type of player find their way either by speaking with them or by leading by example.

There’s another factor to Tebow’s presence.  The guy is a winner.  In college, Tebow won two National Championships and a Heisman Trophy.  In 2011, Tebow took over a 1-4 football team, and he helped them win the AFC West.  In his divisional round, he led the Broncos to an overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers throwing an 80 yard TD pass to Demaryius Thomas.  Ultimately, that was it for Tebow’s NFL career as he didn’t have the talent to stay in the league.  However, despite his lack of talent, he was a winner everywhere he went.  This is an asset every team and organization wants around.

He’s Giving Exposure to Other Teammates

One of the biggest fallacies surround Tebow’s signing is that he is going to cost another player a shot at playing in the majors.  This simply isn’t true.  Minor league rosters are full of organizational depth players that are signed so a minor league team can field a full roster.  Also, keep in mind no one had this complaint when a 37 year old Mike Hessman was chasing the minor league home run record.

So no, Tebow is not going to cost the Mike Hessmans of the world their shot at making it to the major leagues.  Quite to the contrary, Tebow may actually help other players get discovered.

As discussed above, Tebow is a draw meaning more people are going to go see his games.  Ultimately, baseball people will want to go see Tebow, but they’re not going to watch just Tebow.  They’re going to keep their eyes on everyone.   When that happens, other players get additional exposure, and another organization could call the Mets and look to make a minor minor league deal to get the lesser known guy into their organization.

Tebow May Actually Be a Baseball Player

Fact is, no one yet knows what the Mets have in Tebow the baseball player.  It is no different than when the Mets signed Wilmer Flores as a teenager out of Venezuela.  You see a guy with some raw baseball tools, and you hope they make it to the major leagues.

Admittedly, Tebow is much older than Flores was.  However, at 29 years old, Tebow is still young enough that he could go through the minors and eventually make the major leagues.  After his showcase, he did show speed and some raw power.  Given the right environment, he could develop into a fourth or a fifth outfielder on a major league team.  If he doesn’t?  No big deal.  You eventually cut ties with him like you would any other prospect that didn’t pan out.

The Cespedes Factor

Right now, Yoenis Cespedes is the most important position player on the New York Mets.  After this season, he is most likely going to opt out of his deal and become the top free agent available.  When Cespedes does opt out, the Mets have to do everything they can do to keep him in Flushing for the long term.

Part of doing that is having a good relationship with Cespedes’ agents.  No, it won’t lead to Cespedes turning down more money to play elsewhere, but it could give the Mets some advantages.  For example, the Mets could be given the opportunity to match or beat any offer before Cespedes signs a deal.  A good relationship with Cespedes’ agents could lead to the Mets striking quickly after the season and wrapping up Cespedes before he has an opportunity to hit the free agent market much in the way the Mets struck quickly with Mike Piazza after the 1998 season ended.

Overall, it is never a bad idea to have a good relationship with the agent who represents your most important pending free agent.  Also, for what it’s worth Cespedes’ and Tebow’s agents also represent Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.  Eventually, the Mets are going to want to discuss an extension with each of those players.  Again, it’ll help if the Mets and the agency are on good terms.

So yes, there are a number of reasons why people may not want Tebow.  However, when taking everything into consideration, this was a good move for the Mets organization.