Before spring training got underway, I wrote about Ben Revere and the possibility that he could see extended time at the big-league level early on this season. At the time, Justin Morneau's status was very much in doubt, and I suggested that if the team had to play without their first baseman, Revere could be brought up to help take the load off outfielders Jason Kubel, Denard Span, Delmon Young and Jason Repko with Michael Cuddyer shifting to first.
As it turns out, Morneau has been able to avoid the disabled list, but Kubel, Young and Repko have not, so Revere presently finds himself in his second stint with the Twins this year. If Span's current bout with headaches and dizziness forces him to the DL, the door could open wider than ever for Revere, who would figure to get prolonged looks in center field and the leadoff spot.
Revere's flaws are readily apparent, and they're not likely to go away. At 5'9" and 170 pounds, he can't generate any power with his bat or with his arm.
In the outfield, he's got one of the weakest arms you will ever witness in the majors. Meanwhile, he hit only five home runs in 1,654 minor-league plate appearances and has collected one extra base hit in 90 trips to the dish as a big-leaguer.
But, both in the field and at the plate, Revere's blazing speed helps offset his weaknesses. His range in the outfield is good enough that he's an asset defensively in spite of the popgun. On offense, while he may rarely get himself past first base with his bat, he makes up for it by wreaking havoc once he's aboard. He swiped 154 bags in 380 minor-league games and ranks third on the Twins with three steals this year despite having played in only 21 games.
The key for Revere -- one that will make-or-break him as a big-league starter -- is his ability to get on base. He's never drawn a ton of walks so his OBP will likely always be reliant on his batting average. Fortunately, he has never had any trouble hitting for average.
Despite never having the luxury of repeating a level, the 23-year-old has hit .300 or better at each stop in the minors. With his tremendous quickness out of the box, his high contact rate and his ability to spray line drives, there's little reason to believe he can't carry this trait over to the big leagues once he acclimates (he is, in fact, currently on a 10-game hitting streak).
Of course, even if he can sustain a .300 average in the majors, Revere is going to have to learn how to draw at least a moderate number of walks in order to become a true offensive weapon.
In both Single-A and Double-A, he was able to OBP in the .370 range, which made him a legitimate asset at the top of the lineup. Yet, with his walk rate above those levels (only eight free passes in 231 plate appearances between Triple-A and the majors), he'd need a batting average of .330 or .340 to get on base at that clip.
I think the best we can realistically hope for in the long run is that Revere can become a guy who catches everything in the outfield (either in LF or CF), and routinely hits .300 with an OBP in the .350 range and a healthy number of steals. While this wouldn't make him a star, he'd be a very serviceable starter and, while earning the league minimum for the next few years, he'd give the Twins more flexibility elsewhere.
Here's hoping that Revere can show signs of becoming that player during this audition period.