The Arizona Fall League will hold its championship game this Saturday without the Scottsdale Scorpions, our Phillies participants, and Tim Tebow.
Earlier this fall, I wrote an article expressing my displeasure at the inclusion of the 29-year old former quarterback in the fall prospect league. Today, Tebow’s AFL experiment came to an end. Playing a part-time schedule that accommodated his broadcasting career, Tebow slashed .194/.296/.242/.538. In 19 games, he amassed 71 PA and 62 AB. Among his 12 hits he garnered only 3 extra base hits, all doubles. He scored 6 runs and had 2 RBI. He walked 8 times (11.3%), struck out 20 times (28.2%), and was successful stealing one base in three attempts. In Tebow’s last 10 games, he posted a better slash of .267/.405/.333/.739. Still, his SLG leaves much to be desired in a corner outfielder.
Tebow performed better than I expected, and better than four other prospects on the Scorpions roster, including two Phillies – Austin Bossart and Aaron Brown. I didn’t expect much from Bossart in the limited looks he was sure to get after his late invitation, but I had hoped Brown would a show little something.
Tebow’s biggest impact came at the box office (and possibly merchandising). In the 5 preceding years (2011-2015), Scottsdale averaged 8,629 attendance for each fall league season and never exceeded 9,000. In 2016, Scottsdale drew 15,001 fans to 15 home games.
Across the league, Scottsdale’s 17 road games helped boost total league attendance to 61,281, considerably more than the 48,300 the AFL averaged over the past 5 seasons. The high during that span was 53,219 in 2014.
Now, Tebow will go to the Mets’ spring camp. Maybe he’ll cross paths with the Phillies when the Mets’ Eastern League affiliate, the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, play the Fightin’ Phils, or their Florida State League affiliate, the Port St. Lucie Mets, play the Threshers. Maybe I’ll play the hypocrite and ask him for an interview. Nah.