The Toronto Blue Jays made their second selection in the first round shortly after making the #9 overall pick as the team owned the #11 selection also. Normally a team that takes high school talent with upside the Jays used both of their early picks on premium college athletes and chose C Max Pentecost with the #11 selection in the first round.
Here are a few notes and scouting reports from around the web:
Minor League Ball:
Standing 6’2″, 191 LBS, Pentecost looks smaller than a typical stocky catcher and more in the atheltic mold of a Jason Kendall or Buster Posey. He is an adequate receiver behind the plate but won’t be a gold glove receiver. He’s the most likely collegiate catcher available this year that will play that position at the big league level. In other words, he should stick there, while others like Kyle Schwarber and Grayson Greiner are less likely to stick. His pop time is consistently MLB average or better and he is very agile and athletic. He has had Tommy John surgery already. Unlike most catchers, he is a solid runner. He is average to a tick above and should be able to maintain that for a while.
At the plate is where Pentecost shines. He is a professional hitter. He works counts well and makes the most of every pitch. He possesses a smooth, easy swing allowing him to rope line drives from line to line. He doesn’t have a ton of over the fence power but it will be average or a tick below as he matures. His line drive orientation, fast hands and good barrel awareness should allow him to be a high average hitter and situational hitter to help the team in ways the box score doesn’t show.
Players that do well in Cape Cod the summer before they are drafted usually go very high because the eyes of decision makers get to see them and remember what they saw on draft day. This will be the case for Pentecost who had a great Cape season. His bat is very good, his power will play as will his defense. His speed is more than you’d expect from a backstop so the tools, while not loud, are quite impressive. I can’t see a player with his set of skills lasting past the teens and could even go in the top 10 come draft day.
Pick analysis: The Blue Jays, who typically target high school players, went with college players at the top of the draft with their first two picks. But Hoffman and Pentecost are premium athletes for their positions. Pentecost was rumored to be in play much higher in the draft and his athleticism and hitting ability give him a high baseline for performance at the next level.
Scouting report: The Rangers drafted Pentecost as a seventh-rounder in 2011 but couldn’t sign him away from Kennesaw State, due in part to a broken bone in his elbow joint that hampered him in high school. Pentecost’s athleticism stood out then and still does after catching for most of the last three seasons. Scouts consider him an above-average runner period, fairly exceptional for a catcher, and his 6-foot-1, 190-pound body could use more strength to hold up under the rigors of catching 100-plus games. The body and his speed earn him Jason Kendall comparisons. He’s an average receiver with average arm strength with inconsistent throwing mechanics and profiles as an offensive catcher. After two solid seasons as an everyday player, Pentecost took things up a notch last summer, earning Cape Cod League MVP honors by hitting .346/.424/.538. In 2014, he ranked among the national top 10 in batting and hits as the calendar turned to May, and scouts like his line-drive swing, which has improved over the course of his college career. Most scouts see him as a below-average power producer but some see enough feel for hitting for Pentecost to reach 12-15 homers eventually.
My MLB Draft:
Hit/On-base – Pentecost has a smooth, line-drive swing and has shown both a good idea of the strike zone and a willingness to go the other way with the pitch.
Power – Pentecost transfer’s his weight well and has good bat speed and strength, but his swing is more geared towards contact than big power totals. I could see a 15-18 homer type player but I wouldn’t expect a lot more.
Speed – Pentecost is a very good athlete for the position and will not be a liability on the bases like many backstops are.
Glove– Pentecost has really improved as a receiver since he was a 7th round pick by the Rangers three years ago, and looks like he’ll be able to stick behind the plate. He blocks pitches well and has above-average arm strength and a quick release. He’s not Yadier Molina, but he’s closer to that than he is Jesus Montero.