The season is still very young, and for the Minnesota Twins and the Tampa Bay Rays, the newness of the 2011 season helps to dissipate high levels of panic as each team was off to a sluggish start. Since starting 0-6 the Rays have been playing pretty decent baseball and now find themselves at .500 (thanks to a series against the then struggling Minnesota Twins and the slumping Chicago White Sox). The Twins, meanwhile, found their groove after leaving Tampa Bay and are only 3 games under .500 after some solid performances in the past week against Baltimore and Cleveland. The two face off tonight for the first in a three game series.
The Tampa Bay Rays have had some minor tweaks to their roster, most notable losing Evan Longoria to the DL, but through the first 22 games they’ve only brought up two guys from their Minor League system. The Twins, on the other hand, have faced plenty of adversity through their first 21 games and have already played 30 guys on their Major League team, due to a variety of reasons from ineffectiveness in the bullpen to bi-lateral leg weakness behind the plate.
Unfortunately for the Rays and the Twins these injuries have plagued both clubs where they have relatively weak depth, compared with their options in the outfield. In conjunction with my brother’s Baseball Card Series I will be showcasing a few baseball cards of my own, and today marks the first effort on that front. I’ll be profiling two MLB Rookie Cards from this year’s Topps collection, Desmond Jennings of the Tampa Bay Rays and Ben Revere of the Minnesota Twins.
Desmond Jennings did not make a major league appearance until 2010, his age 23 season. However, as noted previously, that remains a bigger factor of depth in the Tampa system than of Jennings’ lack of skill. On the back of his rookie card teammate Jeremy Hellickson gives a strong review of Jennings, saying that in addition to low strike out totals, hitting for power and playing defense that “He brings everything.” Going into the 2010 season he was Baseball America’s #6 overall prospect but last year Desmond Jennings struggled as a September call-up, debuting with an 0-3 appearance and finishing with a 17-game line of .190/.292/.333, playing all 3 OF positions, and even taking a couple turns as a DH. If Jennings is going to make a splash on this 2011 Rays team he’s going to play closer to his baseball card stats (.299/.383/.441). With Sam Fuld currently dominating the Rays OF and on pace to steal nearly 80 bases this season, Jennings will likely have to bide his time in Durham while he waits for his big break.
Ben Revere also made his major league debut in 2010 as a September call-up and was 0-1 against the Royals, before finishing the year with a 13-game line of .179/.233/.179 with only five singles and no extra base hits. Prior to 2009 Ben Revere was ranked as Baseball America’s 59th best prospect, but despite hitting over .300 at High-A and Double A in 2009 and 2010, he fell off the rankings for each of the last two seasons. Ben Revere spent most of 2010 at AA-New Britain and played a spectacular CF, fielding 99% of the balls that came his way and committing just four total errors through 94 games. Revere hit well at New Britain (.305/.389/.412) but when he was called up to play for Rochester he struggled hitting just .203/.239/.234 in limited action. Revere will need to adjust to MLB caliber pitching and continue to excel in the outfield if he is going to make an impact on the 2011 Minnesota Twins, as the Twins are already carrying the speedy Jason Repko as a light hitting 4th outfielder.
It won’t be too long before baseball fans need to take notice as Desmond Jennings and Ben Revere start to producing for their major league clubs.