SURPRISE, Ariz.—Ben Revere’s love for the game is evident by the big smile that’s perpetually on the face of the Peoria Saguaros outfielder, and Arizona Fall League fans have taken note of the Twins’ prospect’s infectious attitude on the field.
“Little kids, grown men, grown women—they’re telling me, ‘I love the way you smile, keep doing that. You bring excitement to the game,'” Revere said about his interaction with Arizona baseball fans.
Revere’s ebullient nature reminds veteran AFL fans of Twins starting second baseman Orlando Hudson, whom Revere got to know after being called up to the big leagues in September. Hudson, then a minor leaguer in the Blue Jays organization, brought the same unabashed enthusiasm and fan friendliness to the AFL in 2001.
“The whole team . . . everybody loves him . . . nobody says one bad thing about the guy,” Revere said about Hudson. “He’s a great guy. He can be a big mouth all of the time though, screaming and yelling, but that’s the way he is. Everybody loves him because you come to the field to see him—it’s real exciting.”
Revere creates the same level of excitement on the field. But he didn’t come to the AFL to win any “spirit” awards. He’s here to improve his game and is satisfied with his progress in the season’s first four weeks. Hitting has never been a big issue for Revere, 22, but the speedy center fielder knows he needs to improve his throwing from the outfield. While his outfield range is rated as a plus skill, his arm is graded as below average, if not worse, and he made a poor, off-target throw in the Rising Stars Game to provide evidence.
“My arm’s killing me but I came here trying to get my arm strength back and working on footwork,” Revere said. He’s been going through a daily routine with Saguaro hitting/outfield coach Floyd Rayford to improve the follow-through on his throws, as he has often been standing too upright when throwing. The Twins have had him on a long-toss program effectively since he signed.
What’s never been a weak point for Revere is his hitting. It’s the skill that got the 5-foot-9, 175 pound prototypical leadoff hitter drafted in the first round in 2007—that and his plus speed, of course. The lefthanding hitting Revere has batted over .300 in each of four years in the minor leagues, with a cumulative .328/.389/.412 total, and stolen an average of more than 35 bases per year. He’s batting .346/.407/.397 with a league-leading nine stolen bases and eight walks in 78 AFL at-bats.
Since he’s never going to hit for much power, Revere knows he has to keep improving his on-base skills. That’s been the other primary objective for his time in Arizona. “They (the Twins) keep telling me to be more patient at the plate,” Revere said, “and they’ve seen that a lot here in the Arizona Fall League . . . they’re really impressed with that.”
Being one of the “little guys” continually keeps Revere motivated.
“At least we’ve got a small strike zone,” Revere said with his customary laugh. “Basically I’m a little speedster guy. Most of the guys like me are either speedster guys or gap to gap guys, so it really adds the motivation . . . that’s why we’re out here every day grinding because we’re going to prove them wrong.”
Revere had a scare in early August when he was hit in the face with a pitch while playing for Double-A New Britain. He suffered two orbital fractures near his right eye. Fortunately, the injury was not as serious as originally feared, and he recovered in time to finish the Eastern League season as well as getting the late season promotion to the big leagues.
Adding the major league time to the minor league regular season, plus the AFL assignment, has made this year a long grind for Revere. Like many other AFL players, he’s starting to feel the fatigue of the long season. But his gamer mentality keeps him going. He showed that he can still turn on the afterburners in Saturday’s Rising Stars game when he made a spectacular running catch of a fly ball into the left center gap off the bat of Scottsdale first baseman Brandon Belt.
“Baseball’s a grind,” Revere said. “All of these games, traveling and stuff, and this rocky hard dirt is kind of tough on your body.” “But I still love this game . . . that’s why I’m here right now.”
• Minor League Baseball vice president/chief operating officer Tim Purpura, the former general manager of the Astros, was presented the Arizona Fall League’s 2010 Roland Hemond award prior to the Rising Stars game at Surprise Stadium on Saturday.
• Cardinals righthander Chris Carpenter will be inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame prior to the Tuesday night between the Saguaros and Javelinas at Peoria Stadium.