Thursday, July 20, 2017

Mets' All Star Conforto on Tebow: 'He's improving'

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He has solid at-bats and doesn’t swing at junk, Conforto said.
CARYN SHAFFER/TCPALM

It wasn’t so long ago that New York outfielder Michael Conforto was a rising prospect for the St. Lucie Mets — 2015 to be exact. 

That’s the year Conforto went from hitting .283 in his first 45 games with St. Lucie, to finishing his last 56 games with New York and batting .270 — .333 with two home runs in that 2015 World Series against Kansas City.

Tuesday, Conforto was the lone Mets’ representative in the 88th Major League All Star Game at Marlins Park in Miami. Prior to his first All Star appearance, Conforto offered his thoughts on another up-and-coming St. Lucie outfielder — Tim Tebow.

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Michael Conforto took the road less traveled to the All-Star Game.
JON SANTUCCI/TCPALM

Conforto and Tebow were in the same lineup just last Thursday, when Conforto went 3-for-4 with a double, run scored and RBI in a rehab start with St. Lucie.

“I thought (Tebow) looked better than he did in the spring,” said Conforto, who had a single in two at bats in the National League’s 2-1, 10-inning All Star loss Tuesday. “He takes solid at-bats. He doesn’t swing at a lot of junk. He has a pretty good eye at the plate and I think that’s one of the reasons why he’s having success.

“Obviously he’s got power and an idea of what he wants to do at the plate. He’s improving.”

Conforto had time on his side back in 2015, he was only 22. Tebow, who turns 30 on August 14, doesn’t.

As Conforto said, Tebow is making better decisions on what pitches he is swinging at now compared to his start of the season in the South Atlantic League.

And while his nine strikeouts in 49 plate appearances has room for improvement (it’s far better than the 69 Ks is 214 at bats at Columbia, South Carolina), there are plenty of areas offensively where Tebow is doing quite well.

He has a 11-game hitting streak and has reached base in all 16 games he’s played in.

Tebow doesn’t have enough Florida State League at bats to be ranked among league leaders, but would grade out high if he did.

Tebow’s .421 on-base percentage would be ranked first in the league. His .327 batting average, .551 slugging percentage and .972 OPS (on base plus slugging percentage) all are second best..

Tebow’s hitting streak had been on hold since Monday, as St. Lucie was off for the All Star game Tuesday and the Mets were rained out on Wednesday.

Thursday, Tebow played a key role in a doubleheader sweep of Daytona in Port St. Lucie.

He went 1-for-2 in the first game, a 1-0 St. Lucie win. In the nightcap, it was Tebow’s one-out home run in the bottom of the seventh that gave the Mets a 5-4 victory. Florida State League doubleheaders are seven-inning games.

It was Tebow’s third home run of the season — all to left field. 

So while Conforto heads back to New York to start his second half of the season, can Tebow continue his positive start at St. Lucie and earn another promotion within the Mets minor league system?

Mike Graham is the digital/print sports editor for TCPalm.com. Follow him on Twitter @TCPalmMGraham.

 

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