RaeKwon Bennett is getting a chance to display his baseball talent on a national stage.
Bennett, a rising junior at Evans High School, is in Houston participating in the Breakthrough Series, an invitation-only, all-expenses-paid venture between Major League Baseball and USA Baseball. The event gives minority high school players from across the country the opportunity to showcase their abilities.
Bennett has been playing travel ball again this summer. Playing for Perfect Game last year got him the attention that led to this year’s opportunity.
“Last summer when I was in Atlanta, a MLB scouting bureau man named Tim Osborne approached me and he saw me play one game and said I was a pretty good ballplayer, and said keep doing what I’m doing and keep working hard,” said Bennett. “Then they called us and the guy said that Tim Osborne had his eye on me ever since last year and that’s how I got picked.”
The first two days Bennett and the other 60 players worked out and played at the Houston Urban Youth Academy. Thursday, they will get to compete in a game at the home of the Houston Astros. The game will be televised on the MLB Network beginning at noon.
“Playing at (the Astros’) Minute Maid Park is amazing, but I believe more exciting will be getting to see pro players and learning from them and getting experience,” Bennett said.
The experience plays into what Bennett, who has been playing baseball since early childhood, wants to do.
“My dream is to get drafted straight out of high school,” Bennett said. “If the right thing happens, then that would be great to go into the MLB right out of high school. Anything bad happens and I’ll go right straight to college and get my education.”
Bennett, the shortstop for the Knights, said he was struggling at the beginning of the 2013 season because he could not see the ball well. He took his coaches’ advice and got his eyes checked.
“I went and it turned out I had two astigmatisms in my eyes so I had to get contacts and that was the problem the whole time,” Bennett said. “After that I believe my batting average increased 100 points; I hit three home runs and I finished the season with four.”
Evans head coach Ricky Beale likes Bennett’s potential and what he brings to the team.
‘‘He’s a great kid and a hard worker, tremendous upside with his physical tools,” said Beale. “He had a great playoff run for us with two home runs and nine RBI in the last two series.”
No matter what, Bennett wants to play baseball as long as he can.
“You never know what’s going to happen in baseball, so that’s the best thing about it. God, he gave me the talent to be able to come out here and play it so that’s the best thing about it right there. I just can’t get enough of it.”