One of the big surprises on Draft Day 2007 was Ben Revere, selected in the first round 28th overall by the Twins. A high school outfielder from Lexington, Kentucky, Revere was rated as a second round or third round talent by most teams. He is a terrific athlete with blazing speed, excellent makeup, and was considered relatively polished for a high school hitter, but he's undersized at 5-9, 165. That concern and questions about how his power would look against pro pitching kept him out of first round consideration....except for the Twins.
Some believed this was a signability and budget pick, and indeed Revere's $750,000 bonus was below slot for the first round. Comparisons to Denard Span, another young speed demon first rounder who never panned out, were inevitable. But the Twins insisted that Revere was the guy they wanted, and right now their decision looks inspired.
Revere had a nice rookie ball debut, hitting .325/.388/.461 with an incredible 10 triples. He stole 21 bases in 50 games, though being caught nine times showed some need for polish. I gave him a Grade B in the book this year, which is high praise for a rookie ball guy.
Revere began 2008 in extended spring training, but he joined full-season Class A Beloit in late April and has been on a tear ever since. In 44 games, he's hitting .413/.463/.565 with 22 steals. Althougn not a walk machine (14 BB), he's struck out just 15 times in 184 at-bats and scouts are drooling over his contact hitting ability. He's hit just one homer, but his 13 doubles and six triples are not all due to speed, he's showing some legitimate pop. His OPS is a robust 1.028...obviously strong, but keep in mind that the Midwest League league OPS is a mere .689. His OPS+ is 149.
Revere does have some weaknesses. He has the tools to be a fine defender, but isn't there yet, already making seven errors on the season. He has been caught stealing 11 times and must improve his read on pitchers to get the most out of his running speed. He was not a young senior and is already 20 years old. However, given his exceptional makeup, intelligence, and work ethic, it seems likely that his deficiencies can be corrected.
I don't think he'll ever be a big home run guy, but if he maintains this level of hitting skill he could be a batting champion someday in the mold of Ichiro Suzuki. Other possible comps would include Ralph Garr or Luis Polonia, or possibly Brett Butler if Revere can boost his walk rate at higher levels.
Alhough we obviously need to see how things pan out in the coming years, Revere has to this point certainly justified his selection. My own Shadow Draft fake Twins first rounder last year, RHP Nevin Griffith, just came out of extended spring training for the White Sox...he pitched well in his first start for Great Falls. But at this point I would rather have picked Revere.