By Joe Christensen
I spent a day in the life of a Twins scout in 2005, and I think of that day often throughout the year, knowing Mike Radcliff and all those scouts are probably at a game somewhere, or driving to a game, or talking to a prospective draft pick. Seriously, 365 days a year. Radcliff has been recognized as the best scouting director in baseball, and he’ll be the first to say it’s not just him, it’s Terry Ryan above him, and the long list of area scouts and regional supervisors putting in the same, long hours.
This team has done a terrific job mining for pitching talent. That was their emphasis in recent years. But the draft also helped stock their big league club with the entire heart of the order: Joe Mauer, Michael Cuddyer, Justin Morneau, Torii Hunter and Jason Kubel. Think that’s easy? I covered an Orioles team that didn’t produce a meaningful draft pick between Cal Ripken and Brian Roberts.
Looking at the minor-league system right now, the cupboard is stocked with pitching talent but appears dangerously bare, when it comes to position prospects. Then, came yesterday’s first-round draft pick, Ben Revere (photo courtesy Lexington Herald Leader). Televising the event for the first time, ESPN2 kept me pretty entertained all afternoon. But when the Twins took Revere at No. 28, the network didn’t even have video of the guy. All we knew is the team had just selected a high school player listed at 5-9, 152 pounds. Eesh.
As I said yesterday, this stuff is so far over most of our heads. Knowing the reputation of Radcliff and his scouts, I trust them. This pick struck me as a vote of no-confidence for 2002 first-round pick Denard Span, though I know it doesn’t work that way. Someday we’ll know. For what it’s worth, ESPN’s Keith Law picked Revere as his “worst pick” of the day. A subscription is required, but here’s the analysis:
I usually like what Minnesota does in the draft, but the selection of Ben Revere really doesn’t work for me. For one thing, I hadn’t heard his name anywhere near that high in the draft, and based on our reports there were clearly better players on the board at No. 28; I think there was a decent chance that he would have been there at No. 93. For another thing, he’s a raw high school hitter who needs a lot of development, and the Twins haven’t had success with that type of player in the recent past. Minnesota already has three former first-round picks — Denard Span, Matt Moses and Trevor Plouffe — who don’t look like they’ll pan out. And finally, even if Revere does reach his potential, he’s primarily a one-tool guy, and that tool — speed — is a lot less important in today’s high-scoring environment than it was 20 or 30 years ago. He has been compared to Juan Pierre, and there’s no way I take a guy who might grow up to be Juan Pierre in the first round.
Also, while surfing today, I saw a headline about Torii Hunter responding to Gary Sheffield’s recent comments about black and Latin American players. Hunter seems to agree with Sheffield’s larger point, but Hunter’s own comments didn’t strike me as controversial. … Finally, Cristian Guzman isn’t talking about tonight’s homecoming at the Metrodome. La Velle and I will have to look into why later today.