Ex-LexCath star Ben Revere proves he belongs in big leagues

mmaloney@herald-leader.comJune 24, 2012 

CINCINNATI — Ben Revere believes.

There were plenty of doubters when the Minnesota Twins selected him in the first round of the 2007 draft, straight out of Lexington Catholic High School.

Maybe the Twins weren't so sure, either. His $750,000 signing bonus was the lowest for a healthy big-league first-rounder since 1997.

Year after year, though, Revere has proven himself.

He hit .325 and stole 27 bases in rookie ball, then: .379 and 44 steals in Class A; .311 and 45 in Advanced-A; .305 and 36 in Double-A. He was an all-star at every stop, and even got called up to the Twins for 13 games in 2010.

After beginning last season in Triple-A, he wound up playing 117 games in the big leagues, batting .267 with 34 stolen bases.

So when the Twins made a rare visit to Cincinnati over the weekend, Revere wasn't about to doubt himself because of an 0-for-15 slump.

He scored 23 tickets for family and friends, and had another dozen or so who came up with their own tickets.

Playing right field and batting second, all he did Friday was go 4-for-4, with a sacrifice fly, RBI, run scored and two stolen bases in a 5-4 victory.

After going 0-for-4 Saturday and 2-for-4 Sunday, Revere is batting .316 for the season.

How sweet is that to have Friday's production in the big-league park closest to home?

"It was good," he said, deflecting the spotlight. "I'm just a team player. I'm just glad we got the win."

Revere's cheering section included his father, John, who coaches running backs for his alma mater's football team, Eastern Kentucky University.

"Most of the family is from here," said John, a native of Dayton, Ohio. "It was great to have him come here and then put on the show he did."

With a laugh, he added, "I had a little prayer there. I said, 'Lord, this is his time now. Let him go!'"

A 5-foot-9, 170-pounder who bats left-handed and throws right-handed, Ben has a believer in his manager.

"A great kid. Just fantastic," Ron Gardenhire said. "Fits in like a glove here."

After an 0-for-12 series at Pittsburgh, Gardenhire offered advice. Nothing complicated.

"I told him to keep playing because he's fun to watch," the manager said. "I told him, 'just be yourself and keep doing what you're doing. I don't want you to start changing and trying to do this-and-that.'"

At 24, Revere is wise beyond his years. Everyone goes through slumps, he said, recalling one he had last year.

Don't let it get to you. Just go out and relax, he said.

As Gardenhire has gained confidence in him over the year, Revere senses a longer leash.

He says he appreciates Gardenhire's vote of confidence after the Pittsburgh series.

"He said 'don't let none of these guys get in your head; just keep doing what you're doing,'" Revere said. "It's really good to have a manager come and say that to you.

"I just felt comfortable, felt ready to go coming in here. I came in here like an angry dog, just trying to get back on track."

Although the Twins are last in the American League's Central Division, Revere calls his vocation "a blessing. God is good. I say that every day. Not a lot of kids get the opportunity to do this, especially at a young age."

High school baseball fans can recall Revere's junior year, when he earned tourney MVP honors while helping Catholic to the 2006 state title.

As a senior, in 2007, he was named Mr. Baseball.

Raised in Georgia until his dad joined the EKU staff in 1997, Revere committed to play college ball for Georgia.

When he went in the first round of the draft, though, plans changed.

He says he has no regrets about bypassing college, and he has promised his mother, Brenda, that he will eventually go back to school.

For now, he studies pitchers.

He says he learned a lot last year by logging 117 big-league games, getting a feel for how pitchers attack him.

"I've got to go deep in the counts a lot. I've got to swing at my pitches," he said. "Guys try to get me to go after a high one or a real low one. Just let them throw it to me, get my pitch ... Plus, I kind of changed my swing a little bit, just get my hands higher. Last year, I had them low and I kept riding in on the balls, getting jammed a lot. This year I have them high, so I'm going to stay through the pitch."

Spoken like a player who believes in himself.

He also believes in those who helped him along the way. Friday, he made a point of thanking them: "From Lexington Catholic to the Kentucky Baseball Club at Champions, to my trainers and everything. Without those guys, I wouldn't be here where I'm at."

Meanwhile, Gardenhire continues to believe, too.

"He's exciting. ... You saw what he did (Friday). He was all over the bases," Gardenhire said. "Great baserunning. Great instincts. He makes great plays out there. He's hard to take out of there.

"He puts the ball in play. He can do so many things for us. So you know what? He's my right fielder, and he's batting second. If he gets a day off, it's because I think he might be a little worn out. But I just love watching him play."

Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @markmaloneyhl. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com

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