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Max Pentecost Healthy Once Again

Catching prospect is off to a hot start after 21 months on the DL

Max Pentecost Healthy Once Again

May 18, 2016

Max Pentecost

After nearly two years on the disabled list, Max Pentecost is showing why he was a first round draft pick for the Toronto Blue Jays. (Kyle Castle)

Getting cleared to play again after a long rehabilitation process can be the best news any athlete can receive after a major injury. While the time missed varies from player to player nobody likes to be sidelined for an extended period of time.

Facing this challenge first-hand Toronto Blue Jays catching prospect Max Pentecost was cleared to get back to action a month ago. Limited due to a shoulder injury that took place in August of 2014, Pentecost was thrilled to receive word that he was good to go this spring.

“My rehab was a long process,” explained Pentecost. “You have to show up every day mentally prepared to give it your best. I still have a little hump to get over. But besides that I’m enjoying it and I’m going to play my best every chance I get.”

After a brief stint in extended spring training the organization felt comfortable sending Pentecost to the Midwest League in May to get some in game reps. Gradually working in the 23-year old prospect, Pentecost has been limited to designated hitting duties during his first series against the South Bend Cubs.

Not missing a beat in his 20 at-bats in Lansing. Pentecost has notched nine hits, which included: a home run and three RBIs, all on his way to a .450/.476/.600 slash line.

The quick start to his 2016 season was great to see from a guy that has missed 21 months of playing time. While he looks like he’s in mid-season form already, Pentecost admits that he’s using a relaxed approach at the plate right now as he’s still getting used to competing again.

“I got through my rehab by anticipating being out there at the plate,” said Pentecost. “I just started swinging the bat a month ago. Right now I’m just going out there looking for something good to hit. Once I see a pitch I can drive I’m going to give it my all. That’s my approach right now.”

His offensive outburst should come as no surprise as Pentecost came out of the gates swinging two years ago. Carrying a .324/.330/.419 slash line between the GCL Blue Jays and Vancouver Canadians showed promising talent that could play up the levels.

Focused on working his way to being a regular catcher again, Pentecost understands his defensive game still needs a little work as he’s still adjusting to calling games and managing a pitching staff. Both of these concepts are addressed more by coaches at the collegiate level and the prospect is fully dedicated to sharpening his skills in these areas for future success down the road.

“I need to improve calling the game and getting to know the pitchers,” stated Pentecost. “I’m still getting to know some of the guys just getting back into everything. I need to stay healthy. But I feel the main thing is trying to control the game. Each level is a little bit faster paced and you need to adjust to accommodate to the faster speed.”

Logging 72 innings behind the plate since turning professional, Pentecost has only committed one error and has maintained a .984 fielding percentage in the early going.

While Pentecost hasn’t had the opportunity to really showcase his defensive ability yet in the Blue Jays system, the young catcher really feels confident in his ability to man his position thanks to the knowledge he picked up while playing for Kennesaw State University and two seasons of summer ball.

“My first year or two I was a backup catcher,” stated Pentecost. “My freshman year I was really able to take in what the older players had to offer knowledge wise. Every year after that I always tried to progress, rather it was catching or hitting there was always something I could work on. I also played on summer ball teams and continued to work on things that I could translate to my next season.”

Carrying an impressive .346/.424/.538 slash line in the prestigious Cape Cod League really solidified Pentecost’s value entering the following year’s draft. That factored in with his seven doubles, six home runs, and 29 RBIs earned him league MVP honors.

“Winning the MVP award in the Cape Cod League was another realization that everything was coming together in baseball,” said Pentecost. “I matured a lot as a hitter in the league. Those changes showed up on the field and helped me win the award.”

Another positive from Pentecost’s time in the Cape Cod League was transitioning from using an aluminum bat to a wood one. While some players find this extremely challenging as the ball comes off differently, Pentecost admits that he’s always preferred the feel of using a wood bat regularly.

“I’ve always felt more comfortable with a wood bat,” stated Pentecost. “You get the long ball out of your head. You have to get the barrel on the ball and I feel the ball comes off better on a wood bat. You have to stay short and get the head to the ball. If you do everything works out.”

All of these experiences culminated in Pentecost getting selected in the 1st round (11th overall) of the 2014 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, a moment that the young prospect will never forget as he shared it with the people that supported him along the way.

“My draft experience was the most remarkable moment of my life,” said Pentecost. “I was there with my whole team at a super-regional. My family was there and just the realization that all of the hard work I put into baseball was paying off. I still need to build on it, but it was a great experience for sure.”

Pentecost has achieved a lot of memorable baseball moments over the last five years; there will surely be many more made during his professional career.

Fans of the Toronto Blue Jays hope that Max Pentecost can create those memories as a member of their organization for years to come.

Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford

Brian has covered professional baseball for eight seasons for numerous media outlets.
Brian Crawford
Brian Crawford

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