Last week Tebow, 29, went 6 for 21 (.286) with two walks and five strikeouts in six games, improving his overall season batting line to .218/.283/.364 in 15 games and 60 plate appearances. He's hit two homers and struck out 14 times.
Those numbers aren't great, obviously, especially for who is four months away from turning 30 in Low Class-A, but Tebow is no ordinary baseball player. For all intents and purposes he picked up a bat last season for the first time since high school. Hitting .218 in Low-A despite spending a decade away from baseball is kind of impressive, actually.
"I think anybody would be lying if they said they didn't at least acknowledge it a little bit. That's part of the pre-pitch," Solter says. "You clear it and, as cliche as it sounds, you attack him like any other batter and see how he reacts to different pitches and adjust accordingly to make some pitches and get an out."
Regardless of what the stat line says, fans are flocking to the ballpark to see Tebow. His team, the Columbia Fireflies of the South Atlantic League, have seen a huge increase in attendance so far this season. David Caraviello of the Post and Courier says Columbia's attendance is up roughly 2,000 fans per game from last year. The Fireflies are also selling out on the road. From Caraviello:
"Even though we know Tim Tebow's college record and what he did to the Gamecocks when he came to Williams-Brice, there's not this, 'I'm not going to see Tim Tebow play because I hate Tim Tebow.' It's nothing that's stopping people from coming out to see him play," said Fireflies President John Katz. "I think, overwhelmingly, people want to see him succeed."
That appears to be the case in Columbia, which entering this week led the SAL in average attendance at 5,787 per game — 2,000 a night more than last year, the Fireflies' inaugural season. That appears the case on the road, where Tebow has played before sellout crowds in cities like Augusta and Rome, Ga.
The Fireflies are also selling a ton of Tebow merchandise, such as jerseys and shirts, according to Caraviello. Love him or hate him, Tebow is marketing machine.
Because of that, I expect the Mets to promote Tebow to High Class-A fairly soon. Unlike the Fireflies, the Mets own their High-A affiliate, the St. Lucie Mets. That means the increased ticket and merchandise sales puts the money directly in their pocket. Not to mention, the former Gator would be back playing in the state of Florida.