Benes was the first player selected in the 1988 Major League Baseball Draft after playing college baseball at the University of Evansville. Benes pitched well enough in his first year to make it to the majors and be named National League Rookie Pitcher of the Year by The Sporting News. Benes was an All-Star in 1993 after a 15–15 season with the Padres, and led the Majors in losses with 14 and in strikeouts with 189 the next season. Benes finished third in the Cy Young Award balloting in 1996 after an 18–10, 3.83 earned run average season. After the 1997 season, Benes agreed to sign a 5-year 30 million dollar contract to return to the Cardinals. Unfortunately, the contract was signed after the deadline for players to re-sign with their 1997 teams. Benes would then have to wait until May 1 to re-sign. Instead, Benes became one of the first players in Diamondbacks history when he signed as a free agent prior to the 1998 season and threw out the first pitch in the history of the franchise.