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Twins outfield prospect Ben Revere

Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune file

Everywhere he plays, he's serving up crow

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE
  • Star Tribune
  • March 11, 2011 - 11:17 AM

FORT MYERS, FLA. - The Rochester Red Wings, the Twins' Class AAA farm club, will open the International League season with 24 players. Twelve will be pitchers and two will be catchers.

The remaining 10 figure to include five players signed from outside the organization as minor league free agents: infielders Matt Brown, Ray Chang and Chase Lambin and first base/outfielders Justin Huber and Jeff Bailey.

Throw in shortstop Trevor Plouffe and second baseman Luke Hughes -- presumed to be headed back to Class AAA to start the season -- and there won't be much room for the more inexperienced prospects supposedly on the rise in the Twins organization.

Ben Revere, 22, the Twins' No. 1 draft choice from 2007, will be the exception to that. Barring an upset when the minor league rosters are chosen, Revere will open the season playing left or center field with Rochester.

This will keep Revere's progression intact: Beloit (low A) in 2008, Fort Myers (high A) in 2009, New Britain (AA) in 2010, and now Class AAA.

Revere was allowed to sample the big leagues last September, when the Twins called him up as an extra outfielder and potential pinch runner. The early clinching of the AL Central allowed him to get 28 at-bats in 13 games.

In that month-long look, Target Field lived up to its scouting report for Revere:

"It's a big park, with those big gaps. I think it's made for my speed. I know Denard [Span] had those three triples in one game. I could see myself doing that some day in Target Field."

First, Revere will have to put up his .300-plus average at Rochester and establish himself as next-in-line among Twins outfielders. His averages have ranged from .305 to .379 in four minor league seasons for a combined .328.

That's an impressive track record when you consider the abuse the Twins took as an organization when they made Revere the 28th overall choice in June 2007.

"People still tell me about stories that said I would be the worst first-round pick ever," Revere said.

Revere was the last first-rounder for Mike Radcliff, then the Twins' scouting director and now the No. 1 talent evaluator for General Manager Bill Smith. He listened to the accusation that the main motive in drafting Revere was to save money, and responded by saying:

"We know he can run. And we're confident that he's going to hit."

Revere is listed at 5-9, and that's generous. When he got to Beloit in 2008 and started tearing up the Midwest League, we started hearing the "young Kirby Puckett" description -- short, fast and an effective hacker.

As it turns out, Revere is not a kid that will carry the muscle and thus the power of Puckett. His career will be built on hitting the ball up the middle. When he gets a cookie, it will turn into a line drive in a gap, not a blast.

And the size of those gaps -- particularly in right field -- probably has increased Revere's value as a prospect. All the evidence needed to understand the Twins' belief that speed will play in Target Field is the change to Alexi Casilla and Tsuyoshi Nishioka in the middle of the infield for 2011.

On Tuesday, Revere demonstrated that speed definitely will play in the outfield ... any outfield.

Pittsburgh's Ryan Doumit smacked a drive toward deep left-center field at Hammond Stadium. This ball was destined to ricochet off the Il Primo Pizza & Wings sign, and then here came Revere, flying from his location in left.

"I didn't think I was going to get to that ball," Revere said. "Then I saw there was a chance, so I dived and stuck my glove out. And the ball stuck there."

Revere was in left field again Thursday. He raced in to snare a sinking drive from Toronto's John McDonald. And then he swatted a ball down the right field line for a would-be triple, except Jason Kubel being on first at the time made it a double.

One more stop -- one more .300-plus season at Rochester -- and then that 28th overall pick for which the Twins took so much heat will have vindicated his organization and himself.

"I love it when people talk down about me,'' Revere said. "I love to prove people wrong.''

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500 ESPN • preusse@startribune.com

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