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Continued: Revere defies draft skeptics

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Last update: June 19, 2008 - 2:56 PM

BELOIT, WIS. -- Bill Smith became the Twins' general manager last fall and Mike Radcliff was named vice president for player personnel. Before this promotion, Radcliff had spent 14 years as the Twins' scouting director.

Radcliff was in charge of the draft in June 2007, when high school outfielder Ben Revere was the team's first-round selection (and 28th overall).

Radcliff was at antiquated Pohlman Field last week, waiting out a rainstorm to see if Revere and the Beloit Snappers would have a chance to play a Midwest League game as scheduled.

"We were convicted when it came to Revere," Radcliff said.

The assumption was that Radcliff was using this verb as in, "The Twins were convicted of gross cheapness by the self-appointed draft experts for using such a high selection on the undersized Revere."

Wrong.

"We were convicted in our belief that Ben was going to be a very good hitter," Radcliff said. "We had more people look at this kid than any first-rounder we've ever drafted.

"He was just a kid we were going to follow that spring, maybe a third-rounder. But the evaluations kept coming in extremely high. We didn't believe it, either, but a few guys we were looking at went earlier and we decided, 'We're going to take this kid.'"

The Twins immediately were accused of making the choice in order to save money. Revere was the first of the 2007 first-rounders to sign and for a below-market bonus of $750,000.

"We've never taken that much criticism for a first-rounder ... not until people saw them play professionally, anyway," Radcliff said.

One year later, the Twins have no regrets. Revere played 50 games for the Gulf Coast Twins and batted .325 last season with no homers and a .388 on-base percentage. This year, he stayed in extended spring training for a month before being sent to low-Class A Beloit.

Revere arrived here on May 1. Seven weeks later, he was batting .413 with one homer, 26 RBI and playing in the Midwest League All-Star Game that was played Tuesday night in Midland, Mich. The second half of the schedule opens tonight for the Snappers.

Revere, who is playing center field for Beloit, insists he's 5-9 and a less-than-thick 175 pounds. He's a lefthanded hitter and can fly to first in under 4.0 seconds. Slap-hitting, bunt-and-run type?

"Not at all," Paul Molitor said. "He has bat speed. He hits balls in the gap. He has a little pop."

Beloit manager Nelson Prada nodded at that comment and said: "When I give him a bunt sign, he gives me a dirty look. He wants to swing the bat."

Molitor was in Beloit as part of his duties as a minor league instructor and observer for the Twins. The man with 3,319 big-league hits and a plaque in Cooperstown said:

"Whatever Revere hits seems to go through the infield or land in the outfield. Some hitters have that gift, and he looks like one."

Trouble areas?

Molitor: "He can't throw. He's going to have to get to the ball quick and throw it to the cutoff man."

Prada: "He still learning on the bases. He's made a number of outs trying to run [from second] to third base on ground balls hit in front of him to shortstop."

Revere went to Catholic High School in Lexington, Ky. He was a Smurf-style receiver and cornerback in football, and the state's Mr. Baseball as a senior.

Revere caught 15 passes for 467 yards and seven touchdowns in his last two football games in the playoffs. In baseball, he batted .487 with 176 RBI, 91 stolen bases and a state-record 27 triples in four years at Lexington Catholic. He had a career total of 19 strikeouts in 433 at-bats, very impressive unless it's compared to Joe Mauer's one high school strikeout.

"I was going to Georgia, and it made the College World Series this month," Revere said. "I kept hearing I would go in the second or third round, but I also was hearing that Mr. Radcliff had fallen in love with me as a player.

"Going in the first round ... that made it easier to sign and not go to Georgia."

Beloit (pop. 35,000) has been a soggy place this spring, along with the rest of southern Wisconsin. Several Snappers were asked and agreed on this: "There's not much to do here."

Revere smiled and said: "That's probably good. Basically, you get up, find a place to eat lunch, go to the ballpark, work out, hit in the cages, take early BP. It's all baseball here."

Revere is a personable kid. Polite, too. When talking about the Twins, he refers to people in the organization as "Mr. Smith," "Mr. Radcliff," "Mr. Molitor."

There's also a Twins figure that Revere thinks about: the late, legendary Kirby Puckett.

"People have told me that I remind them of Kirby," he said. "I'm short like him, of course, but people say I run like him, that I hustle like him, that I enjoy the game like him.

"When I hear those things, it's a thrill. I just hope someday I can follow those footsteps."

There's another Puckett characteristic that has been noticed.

"He'll swing at a bad ball and get a hit, just like Puck," Molitor said.

Patrick Reusse can be heard weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP at 6:45 and 7:45 a.m. and 4:40 p.m. • preusse@startribune.com

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