While Tim Tebow took batting practice Thursday afternoon at Hadlock Field, a scout looked on.

“He is getting better,” the scout said. “From where he started …”

From where Tebow started was a .194 batting average in the Arizona Fall League after the 2016 season. Then came a combined .226 average in Class A last season.

Now in Double-A, Tebow is hitting .241 after a slow beginning.

Adjustments are being made.

“I hope so,” Tebow said with a laugh before Thursday’s doubleheader. He is making his second trip to Portland, as an outfielder for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, Double-A affiliate of the New York Mets.

“I feel really good at the plate. Feel like I’m improving,” he said.

This experiment might end up working. The Mets may actually turn a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, who played in the NFL, into a major league player.

Skeptics, including the scout at Hadlock, far outnumber the optimists. Tebow, 30, knows that.

“I don’t really worry about what everybody else is saying,” he said. “This is an opportunity to live out another one of your dreams.”

But the Mets say this is more than a fantasy camp for Tebow. He was invited to the Mets’ major league spring training camp in February. General Manager Sandy Alderson defended the invitation, saying, “I think he’ll be a major league player at some point … realistically, given his age, given where he started, we need to try to accelerate the process.”

That explains why Tebow began this season in Double-A.

“A lot of really good competition,” Tebow said. “The pitchers have a plan against you. They’re able to command better and stick to the plan.”

On April 21, in a home game against Erie, Tebow was 0 for 4 with four strikeouts as his average dropped to .214.

Tebow took the next day off. He kept working on his swing, his approach.

Since that day, Tebow is batting .272. He’s trending up, for now.

“It’s a game of consistency and trying to do it over and over,” Tebow said. “Put good swings together, good at-bats, good games, good series.”

Given the Mets’ acceleration theory with Tebow, it’s possible that this is Tebow’s last trip to Portland. The Rumble Ponies return to Hadlock Field on June 29. By then, Tebow could be in Triple-A Las Vegas. Tebow does not talk about timetables.

“As long as I’m passionate about it and enjoying it,” he said.

Tebow remains popular – Tebow jerseys were being sold in the Sea Dogs gift shop – but it does not match the sold-out crowds that followed him last year in the Class A leagues in the south (where Tebow’s star shines brightest after his stellar career with the University of Florida).

On Thursday, Hadlock was less than half filled for the doubleheader. Tebow did not play the first game and was in left field for the second (0 for 1, run scored).

Binghamton, which routinely is near the bottom in attendance in the Eastern League, is last this year, with only 2,168 fans a game.

Still, Tebow loves the grind, even if it’s in the minor leagues.

“I like playing every day. That part’s not hard for me,” he said. “The bus (rides) are a little bit worse.

“But getting up to play to play every night? I enjoy it.”

Tebow continually expressed his love for baseball, but there is always a caveat.

“There are a lot of other things that my heart’s into,” he said. “We’re doing a lot with our foundation. We’re in a lot of countries. We’re trying to change the world as much as we can.”

The Tim Tebow Foundation is a worldwide organization with several ministries, including a 30-bed hospital in the Philippines where Tebow was born (he is the son of missionaries). The foundation aids others with illness, along with orphans and children with special needs. His annual “Night to Shine” provides a prom experience for over 90,000 young people with special needs in several countries.

Occasionally, Tebow will meet someone at a ballgame that has be touched by his foundation.

“That’s special because that transcends the game,” Tebow said.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-7411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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