Revere making his own name
Compared favorably to Puckett, Twins prospect impressing
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The comparisons began almost immediately for Ben Revere.With his mile-wide smile, small stature and gregarious personality, it was not difficult to see the similarities the outfield prospect holds to a certain Hall of Fame center fielder, Twins legend Kirby Puckett. "When you become an outfielder here and you have an outgoing personality, you have a big smile and he's short like Kirby was, you can't avoid the comparisons," said Twins outfielder Jacque Jones, who counts Puckett among his mentors as he came through Minnesota's farm system. Revere, 21, seems to be wearing that pearly-white smile quite a bit around the Twins' clubhouse this spring in his first big league camp. And the young outfielder certainly has been making a strong impression -- and not just based on his upbeat personality, even though that helps. "He reminds me of a few other guys that have come through that center-field area out there with big smiles on their face and very confident that they can really hit and not afraid of anything," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Revere. "He's definitely got that mentality." Without a true backup for Denard Span in center field, the Twins have given Revere a considerable amount of playing time this spring. He's batting .316 (12-for-38) in 13 Grapefruit League contests with three doubles, a triple and two stolen bases in three attempts. "I didn't think I'd play this much," Revere said. "It's been a fun experience playing with all these great guys. I've been watching these guys on TV, and they're my teammates right now. Hopefully, I'll be up here for a pretty good run before they go up to Minnesota." A surprise first-round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, Revere has made the Twins' decision to select him look like a smart one with his production in the Minor Leagues so far. In his first season in the Minors, Revere batted .325 with six doubles, 10 triples and 21 stolen bases in 30 attempts in 50 games with the Gulf Coast League Twins. He was at Class A Beloit in 2008 and batted .379 with 17 doubles, 10 triples and 44 stolen bases in 57 attempts across 83 games with the Snappers.
Last season, Revere batted .311 with 13 doubles, four triples and 45 stolen bases in 62 tries. He also became the first Twins prospect to win the organization's Minor League Player of the Year Award in back-to-back seasons since LaTroy Hawkins."He's done some good things in the Minor Leagues," Jones said of Revere. "Everybody wants to be gauged on what they do against big league competition, and he's holding his own right now."
2010 Spring Training - Minnesota Twins
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Spring Training Info
Revere is considered one of the top prospects in the Twins organization. He's been labeled one of the best hitters for average in the club's Minor League system, as well as the fastest baserunner.Revere's blazing speed has already been showcased this spring on one triple that he hit in a game against the Orioles in Sarasota, Fla. And at least one time this spring, Revere's batting helmet went flying off as he rounded first base heading for second. "He's definitely flying all over the place -- feet and elbows and arms," Gardenhire said with a laugh. "It's pretty entertaining to watch. He can fly." Right after Revere arrived in Minor League camp for his first Spring Training with the Twins back in 2008, he was greeted by Span, who at the time had still not broken into the Majors. But like Torii Hunter did for him, Span tried to become a mentor to Revere and has spent time each of the past two years talking to the young outfielder as well as showing him around the Twin Cities during TwinsFest. Span knows a little bit about expectations that can be placed on players like Revere, having been a first-round Draft pick himself. "I think I was guilty of it in the Minor Leagues, hearing the hype of Kirby Puckett, being passed on to Torii Hunter," Span said. "I was supposed to be the heir apparent of Torii Hunter. I did let it get to me. I think [Revere's] personality is a little bit different than mine. I'm not negative, but he has all the makeup to keep his composure and just play his game. He understands what type of player he is. He's not going up there trying to hit a home run. He knows what type of player he is already at his age. That's what's most important." Since the two players first met in the spring of 2008, Span has risen to become one of the best leadoff hitters in the game and a permanent fixture in the Twins' outfield. Span is expected to remain in center field for the foreseeable future, having signed a five-year contract with the club this spring, so Revere could likely have to shift to one of the corner-outfield positions at the Major League level. "Here is a guy, an up-and-coming outfielder, and he's got to be able to play all over the place," Gardenhire said before the Twins' 6-2 win over the Rays on Saturday, when Revere made his first start of the spring in left field. "We'll get a chance [this spring] to move him out there and maybe over to right field, too. ... I know he can run around in center; I'd like to see the other places." Revere is expected to begin the 2010 season at Double-A New Britain. He's still got some things to work on in the outfield in terms of defense, but he's been advancing steadily since he was drafted, and there are many who believe he'll be making his impact felt at the Majors sooner than later. "He's the total package when it comes to baseball player, character off the field," Span said. "He's just a great all-around kid. ... I just watch him. He does a lot of things with raw ability, but he's catching on really fast. He's a fast learner." Revere's locker this spring is next to Jones' in the same corner where many of those other famous Twins center fielders -- such as Puckett and Hunter -- resided while they were with the Twins. And while Revere tries to modestly shake off any comparisons between himself and those players, he can't help but display that impressive grin when he hears that his personality reminds some people of one of his idols, Puckett. "My grandpa always tells me, 'Go out there and have fun with a smile on your face,'" Revere said. "Not a lot of people are capable of doing this. So every day, I just go out there and have fun. It's something I get paid for, and it's something I love doing."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.