Revere living up to Twins' Draft day expectations

Revere living up to Twins' Draft day expectations

Revere living up to Twins' Draft day expectations
MINNEAPOLIS -- It was 2007, and the first round of Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft was televised for the first time on ESPN.

Everything was going according to plan on the broadcast, until it came time for the Twins to make their selection with the No. 28 overall pick.

Minnesota selected a high school outfielder from Kentucky named Ben Revere, and it left ESPN scrambling. They had no video and very little information on the player, as no one thought the 5-foot-9 speedster would be a first-rounder.

Twins general manager Terry Ryan, who was in the final year of his first stint as Minnesota's GM, remembers it all too well. But now he says it's the Twins who had the last laugh, as Revere has developed into the outfielder they always thought he would be.

"That was a controversial Draft when the selection was made," Ryan said. "We took a lot of abuse. He was a little guy with no power and all that stuff. But the reason we drafted him was because we thought he was a good hitter and that his speed allows him to do a lot of different things."

Revere proved the doubters wrong with a stellar career in the Minor Leagues. Revere hit .326/.383/.404 with 160 stolen bases in 403 games, over parts of six seasons.

Revere finally got his chance for regular playing time in Minnesota last year, with Denard Span missing time with a concussion. Revere ended up hitting .267 in 117 games, while setting a Twins record for most stolen bases by a rookie, with 34.

But it's been this season where Revere has really emerged as an offensive threat, as he is tied for fourth in the American League in batting average, hitting .319, and third in the AL in steals, with 28. He's also provided stellar defense in right field since becoming a regular there in mid-May, after spending nearly a month at Triple-A Rochester early in the season.

"He's been a good player for us this year, and we thought he would be," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "When he hits the ball in the air, I get a little nervous, because that's not the type of hitter he is. But when he hits it on the ground, and those line drives, he's fantastic. He's had a heck of a year up to this point."

Revere has done a better job of hitting line drives this year, as he had just 14 extra-base hits in 450 at-bats last season, but has 16 extra-base hits in 345 at-bats this year.

Revere's slugging percentage is about 70 points higher than last season, and he says he's starting to hit like he did when he was in the Minors.

"I feel a lot more confident than I did last year at this point," Revere said. "Last year, that wasn't me. I wasn't that type of hitter. I should have been better last year. I wanted to show the coaches, let them know I can and am able to hit up in the Major Leagues.

"Last year, I was long on a lot of balls, getting jammed a lot. I was getting really frustrated. Even when I did get a hit, I'd get frustrated because I was jammed, and I'd feel like, 'I should have drove that ball through the gap.' This year, I'm staying inside the ball; now those balls I'm hitting over guys' heads or into the gaps, and I'm getting doubles and triples on them."

Revere has been hot recently, as he's hitting .336 over his last 28 games, which includes his 21-game hit streak that lasted from July 16-Aug. 7. It was the longest hit streak by a Twins player since Torii Hunter had a 23-game hit streak in 2007.

"I like what he's doing and some of the changes he's made," Gardenhire said. "He's putting the barrel on the ball. He's hitting the ball in the air a lot better. Eventually we'd like to see him take some pitches, but I don't know if that's in his nature, because he's an aggressive hitter."

As Gardenhire pointed out, Revere doesn't walk much. He's walked just 15 times in 369 plate appearances this year.

Revere said he's working to improve on his walk rate, but also said he doesn't want to lose any of the aggressiveness that allows him to hit for such a high average.

"They want me to be more patient, but they don't want to take my aggressiveness away," Revere said. "I've been having those same problems, where a coach will want me to take a bunch of pitches -- that's why I'll take a bunch of pitches I want to swing at and drive. Then I'm killing myself. So they're just like, 'Do what you do.'"

It's been sound advice so far, as Revere is enjoying the breakout season the Twins had always hoped for.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.