Father's battle inspires KC draftee Bodner
Right-hander out of Xavier selected in 27th round of Draft
KANSAS CITY -- Near the end of 27th round in the 2015 MLB Draft on Wednesday afternoon, right-hander Jacob Bodner received a call from the Royals -- a call he'd been waiting on while at his sister's home in Cincinnati.
Bodner, a Xavier grad, then called home to Kentucky, where his father, Scott, waited by the phone for the news that made a dream come true.
"A little tear comes to your eyes," the elder Bodner said. "A lot satisfaction when one of your children gets to maybe fulfill a lifelong dream."
That dream had belonged to both of them since Scott Bodner first recognized his son's knack for the game and convinced him to stick with baseball, even when T-ball bored him as a kid.
"Basketball was Jacob's first love, but he's 5-foot-11," Scott Bodner said. "If he had a future in athletics, it was going to be baseball."
Jacob Bodner said his father is his inspiration for reaching the Major Leagues. All the more this past winter, when his dad was diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer about a week before Christmas.
Knowing his father's condition, Bodner entered his senior season ready to make waves for both of them. He didn't let the left ACL tear that held him out for the entire 2014 season hold him back, either.
"I felt like I could get through it having already gone through it once before," Bodner said. "And going through that is nothing compared to what he's dealing with."
Scouts have known about Bodner since he started playing in summer showcase tournaments before college. Prior to that, he was growing from the 5-foot-3, 110-pound freshman to where he is now, at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds.
The first time the father remembers his son being approached was on the Xavier home field -- he thinks it was a Royals scout -- just before Xavier offered him a scholarship.
Shortly after, though, he incurred an ACL tear in his right knee. While Bodner was nervous about what it meant for his scholarship, his father had ingrained honesty in him all his life.
"I told him to contact Xavier because they had always been upfront and honest with us," Scott said. "Always respected Xavier [for understanding]."
Bodner went on to play 36 games, mostly in relief, in the two seasons leading up to his second ACL injury. He finished a career-best 6-2 with a 3.23 ERA in 30 2/3 innings as a sophomore.
The plan didn't go quite as well in 2015. Bodner went 0-1 with a 5.66 ERA and two saves in 20 2/3 innings and 18 games as a senior. He flashed a mid-90s fastball with both a curve and a slider as second options that suited his pure athleticism.
Apparently, the scouts thought so, too.
"I told him now he has the opportunity," the elder Bodner said. "It's not where you start, it's where you finish. It's just another hurdle, now go prove it."