It’s impossible to deny Isaac Benard’s talent on the baseball field.
It is almost certain that one out of 30 major league baseball teams will be tempted enough to draft the Hanford graduate and two-time Mid-Columbia Conference Player of the Year based on talent alone.
But Benard is hoping his ability on the diamond won’t be the only thing that makes him attractive to teams during the MLB First-Year Player Draft that starts today in Secaucus, N.J.
Isaac’s father, Marvin Benard, played almost 1,000 major league games over nine seasons (1995-2003) for the San Francisco Giants. The former Lewis-Clark State standout was drafted by the Giants in 1992 and made his way up through the minor league ranks.
Isaac, a 5-foot-11, 210-pound outfielder with an explosive left-handed swing, watched his father day in and day out, spent time in the Giants dugout at Candlestick Park and learned how the game is played at the very top level.
“I think they look at me and see him. They know I have a different knowledge of the game, and they’ll think I know a little more than the average high schooler,” Isaac said. “It’s not an easy life. It comes with a lot of hard work. But if you want to do it, you can do it.”
Isaac is hoping to hear his name called on the first or second day of the draft. Today covers the first two rounds, the compensation round A and competitive balance rounds A and B. On Friday, rounds 3-10 will be completed, and Saturday will finish out the draft with rounds 11-40.
Marvin said it would be fun to imagine his son being selected by San Francisco but refrained from predicting when or where he might be selected.
“It would be pretty cool, especially knowing he grew up in that clubhouse,” Marvin said. “It would be interesting to have that connection.”
Marvin was selected three times in the MLB amateur draft: out of Bell High (Calif.) in the 39th round, Los Angeles Harbor College in the 20th round and finally Lewis-Clark State College in the 50th round in 1992.
But he said the draft can be an exciting and frustrating experience.
“From personal experience, you can’t really count on anything they tell you,” Marvin said. “Things change from one minute to the next.”
His son seems ready for whatever comes. In November, he verbally committed to the University of Washington, but his SAT scores didn’t meet the Huskies’ academic standards. As a fall-back, he made a verbal committment to Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, Ore., but his heart seems to yearn to play professional ball.
He said money would be the biggest factor in his decision to turn pro.
“If I get (an offer) I truly want, I’d probably go, but I’m not really banking on it,” he said. “If not, I can go to Mt. Hood for one or two years and get another shot.”
Kennewick graduate J.J. Hancock, ranked 15th by Baseball Northwest among the top 60 players in the Pacific Northwest, is committed to Washington State but could also see his name come off the board over the next three days. Hancock played catcher and outfield for the Lions.
Benard is ranked 20th on the same list.
A trio of Oregon State players — junior outfielders Michael Conforto and Dylan Davis and junior pitcher Jace Fry — are listed among Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list. Neither Hancock or Benard made the Baseball America top 100.
The Houston Astros made history by earning the No. 1 pick for the third year in a row. The Seattle Mariners own the sixth pick in the first round, plus the first pick in the Compensation Round A.
The Colorado Rockies, the parent club of the Tri-City Dust Devils, own the No. 8 overall selection, plus the first pick in the Competitive Balance Round A.
w Jack Millikin; 582-1406; email@example.com