A first-round pick in the 2007 Draft, Ben Revere coasted through his first three seasons in pro ball. He combined to hit .337 from the Gulf Coast League in '07, the Midwest League in '08 and the Florida State League last year.
This season, he was faced with arguably the biggest transition a player makes. He spent most of the year -- all except 13 September and October games with the Twins -- in the Double-A Eastern League, and he finished with a .305 batting average, which tied him for second in the circuit, and 36 stolen bases, which were the third most.
His New Britain Rock Cats, though, went 44-98 to wind up with the worst winning percentage in all of regular-season affiliated baseball in the United States.
When the summer ended, the Twins shipped Revere to the Arizona Fall League for more playing time. He hit .295 there and led the loop with 13 steals in 28 games, but, once again, his team struggled. The Peoria Saguaros were 9-22 (for a .290 winning percentage).
As the AFL came to a close, Revere took some time to talk about playing on hard-luck teams, making his debut in Minnesota and stepping into the batter's box against Justin Verlander.
MiLB.com: The New Britain club you were on had a rough year, and the Saguaros have had their troubles in the AFL, too. Are there any secrets to staying happy on the field when a team is struggling so much?
Revere: Right now, it's really easy because these [Arizona Fall League] games don't really count, but you just do what you can. Last year, in the Florida State League, [the Fort Myers Miracle] had the best record in the whole league. And [in New Britain], we were a lot of the same guys.
But you've got to have fun no matter what happens. You just remember, 'Look, you have the opportunity to play professional ball.' Seasons go your way or don't go your way -- that's how it is. You just go out there have fun and play your best whatever happens.
MiLB.com: What was the trickiest part about adjusting to Double-A, and was it different than making the jump up to any other level?
Revere: Yeah, the pitchers are pretty good. Going from [Class A Advanced] to Double-A, I struck out a whole bunch. They always say Double-A is where you'll see the top prospects, and that's true. The way they played, the feel of the game was a little bit different.
Even the hitters, they're stronger and they pull the ball more than I was expecting at first, so you have to get a better read on the ball off the bat in the outfield.
MiLB.com: You took a pitch just above the eye about a month before you got called up. Was there any part of you that was a little skittish getting back into the box, or were you able to say, "Hey, this was a freak accident," and forget about it?
Revere: Ah, it was a freak accident. This is the first time I ever got hit in the face by a lefty. It was a little crazy, though.
It was scary. It was shocking. I was just hoping, I mean, that could have been the end of my career. It wasn't, but thank God about that. But I mean, it probably happens [very rarely]; I just can't worry about it happening again. I just have to move on and play my game.
MiLB.com: What was it like reporting to Target Field for the first time?
Revere: It was fun. All the fans were really supportive. They were a great crowd. I feel really good about that. It was a lot of time for me to get up there. It was an experience, especially playing in front of those fans. I think they're the best fans in Major League Baseball.
Now I'm just working hard so I can hopefully get back up there and play in front of them a lot more next year."
MiLB.com: Were there any Twins players who made you feel especially welcome?
Revere: Yeah, Denard Span. Even going back to my first year in the [Gulf Coast League], he came over out of big league camp and said hi to me and helped me out. He's always really good to me, and he was again this year in Spring Training and up there [in Minnesota].
He's always been helping me out, and there were a lot of guys up there who were really good to me, too.
MiLB.com: Was there an Eastern League battery you faced this year that made you think twice about running on them? Was there anybody who was the toughest?
Revere: No, not really. This year, [stealing bases] was a lot easier [than last] because a lot of the pitchers [had high kicks]. Last year, [in the Florida State League], a lot of those pitchers were flat-stepping, and they had a lot of catchers there who were pretty good, too.
MiLB.com: Have you had any teammates in the Minors who have made you think, 'This guy's going to be successful in the Majors? '
Revere: There are a couple, David Bromberg, of course, most of the guys here [in the AFL], you know, these are all guys who have a chance to play in the big leagues for awhile. From the Twins, yeah, Joe Benson, Chris Parmelee, Carlos Gutierrez -- there are a couple of guys that have good chances.
With the Twins, it's tough, because we have a lot of great players up there in the big leagues right now.
MiLB.com: You got one of the Twins' four hits off Justin Verlander in his Sept. 24th 11-strikeout complete game. Do you remember that at-bat?
Yeah, he threw me an inside fastball, or it might have been a changeup, and I sort of hit over to first and [Tigers first baseman Miguel] Cabrera. I thought it would probably go for an error, but I was happy to see they gave me a hit.
[Verlander]'s one of the hardest guys to face. He throws 95, his slider's just dropping off the plate. He's great. He's going to be in the big leagues a long time, and he's a good guy, too.
MiLB.com: And then he picked you off. What happened there?
Revere: No, he didn't pick me off. There were two outs, [the count] was 3-2, I had a short lead. I was safe. The first-base ump gave him the call, though.
My first base coach [Jerry White] was going at him for it, and I was going at him a little bit, too, but I didn't want to get ejected -- you have to be careful.
I was safe, though.
That was a fun series -- I played all three games.
MiLB.com: Have you been recognized by Twins fans away from the field? At a restaurant or anything like that?
Revere: Oh, yeah. It's been fun to come here, away from the cold. But yeah, I've had people come up to me just to say what's up. That's fun. You know, I'm not at the stage where everybody recognizes me all the time or anything, but I've had some people come up."
MiLB.com: What are your offseason plans after the AFL?
I've been away from home for almost 10 months. My shoulder's -- my body's a little sore right now, and I just bought a condo back home [in Western Kentucky]. I'm going to go back there and rest up and enjoy the holidays. Then get back at it again in Spring Training.