Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Who is Ben Revere?

Revere takes a tumble rounding second base but still reaches third safely for a triple

Ben Revere lives by a motto: one if by bat, two if by steal.  That is to say, he'll get one base with a hit and he'll get to second of his own accord only with a steal, since he has no power to speak of whatsoever.

In all seriousness, Revere came to Minnesota in the 2007 draft, the 28th selection overall, out of a Kentucky high school.  He signed just four days after the draft, on June 11, meaning he had an ample playing time with Minnesota's rookie level club that year.  He started strong there, showcasing many trends that would continue throughout his minor league career.  He hit over .300--.325 to be exact--and ran often, stealing 21 bases in just 50 games, both skills he replicated each year in the minors.  Unfortunately he wasn't all that successful on the basepaths, as he was caught on 9 other occasions.

The next season, 2008, was easily Revere's best as a professional, and it vaulted him up prospect rankings.  With Beloit, Minnesota's low Single-A affiliate, he flirted with .400 for much of the season, finishing the season at a lofty .379.  His strikeout-to-walk ratio was close to even and he demonstrated decent power, giving him an excellent .930 OPS.  Scouts and fans alike were excited by that performance, as he was named Minnesota's Minor League Player of the Year.  In addition, he jumped from #10 to #2 in Aaron Gleeman's annual ranking of Twins prospects and rated #59 in Baseball America's ranking of prospects across the minor leagues.

That was the last time he would be thought of that highly, though.  As he moved up in the system, he still hit for average, had a similar strikeout-to-walk ratio, and stole plenty of bases, albeit not at a very successful rate, but the gap power he showed in the low minors disappeared.  His home run rate remained consistently minuscule (about 1 in every 350 plate appearances), but he stopped hitting doubles and triples nearly as often.  As a result, his ceiling went from a Johnny Damon or Kenny Lofton type to something much closer to Juan Pierre.

Despite getting hit in the face by a pitch and subsequently fracturing an orbital bone during the 2010 season, Revere recovered and received a call-up in September of that year.  His cameo was due to Ron Gardenhire's desire for speed more than anything else, which is why he came to the plate only 30 times over 13 games.

Because of the injury, he had not yet played at Triple-A so that's where he began the 2011 season.  After a rash of injuries hit Minnesota, Revere came up to the big league club in early May.  While he quickly earned the respect of his manager, as all light-hitting speedsters seem to, his offensive performance has been quite lackluster.  His average has dipped to .250 in the majors, meaning his complete lack of power and merely so-so walk rate are no longer palatable.  In the field, his noodle arm has been on full display, mitigating his plus-range.

Given the skills Revere has displayed this season, Minnesota would be misguided to cast him as a everyday starter, especially in a corner outfield spot; he profiles more as a solid fourth outfielder who can play all three positions.  If he can consistently hit for a higher average, he could be a decent centerfielder a la the aforementioned Juan Pierre, but it's unlikely he'll be much more than that at this point.  Of course, he's still young, meaning there is a chance he improves and becomes a more integral part of the Twins' future.  He's fun to watch, so Minnesota fans will be hoping for that to happen.

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