Saturday, August 13, 2011

Who is Jason Repko?

Repko makes a sliding catch in foul territory

Jason Repko is essentially the epitome of a fourth outfielder.  Drafted late in the first round back in 1999 by the Los Angeles Dodgers, he joined the Twins at the beginning of the 2010 season.  He had spent the previous five seasons moving between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, the Dodgers' Triple-A club.  He put up promising numbers there, but by the end of his time in Los Angeles he was doing it as a 28-year old outfielder with 323 games of experience at Triple-A.

2005 was the only season that Repko got remotely regular playing time in the major leagues, as he appeared in 129 and garnered over 300 plate appearances.  His performance was uninspiring, however, resulting in reduced playing time in 2006, when he appeared in only 69 games and half as many plate appearances.  In those two seasons, though, he was in Triple-A for just 17 games, meaning he had the semblance of being a regular in a backup outfield position in the majors.

But in Spring Training of 2007 Repko collided with Rafael Furcal and tore his hamstring, an injury that sidelined him for the entire season.  After that lost season the tables turned, as Repko found himself playing mostly in Triple-A with an occasional call-up to fill in at the big league level.  In 2008 that was a five-day stretch at the beginning of July and then again in September when rosters expanded; in 2009, just an appearance in September in which he totaled 7 plate appearances.

In the two years after his serious injury, Repko played in just 32 games with the Dodgers, amassing an even more meager 27 plate appearances.  Having exhausted his minor league options, Repko's last chance with Los Angeles was to make the big league team out of Spring Training in 2010.  Instead he was released by the Dodgers, and the Twins signed him to a minor league contract within the week.

Repko was assigned to Rochester, Minnesota's Triple-A affiliate, and stayed there for the first two and a half months of the season.  Since his call-up on June 24th of that year, though, he has remained on the Major League roster; outside of a rehab assignment in May of 2011, Repko has not played in the minors.  But he hasn't been anything close to a regular player in Minnesota either, playing in about half of the team games in that span, and many of them only as a late-inning defensive replacement.

At this point in his career, Repko has proven that's exactly what his role should be.  While he's been able to post nice totals in Triple-A, he's now 30 years old and has little chance of improving on his bland offensive performance in the major leagues.  He can, however, play all three outfield positions at least adequately, and does have more life in his bat than notable backups like Matt Tolbert and Drew Butera.  Repko doesn't offer anything special, but he is a totally serviceable fourth outfielder who has done a fine job in that role over the past two seasons.

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