Pentecost best true catcher in 2014 Draft class
Rancho Bernardo (Calif.) High School catcher Alex Jackson projects to be the first position player drafted in June, and perhaps the only one taken in the first eight to 10 picks. Indiana backstop Kyle Schwarber will be one of the first college bats taken, likely going off the board in the 11-20 range.
Jackson's bat is so enticing, however, that the club that selects him may move him to right field to expedite his development, just as the Nationals did with Bryce Harper and the Royals did with Wil Myers. Many scouts believe Schwarber will eventually wind up in left field.
That leaves Kennesaw State's Max Pentecost as the top prospect in the 2014 Draft who's a sure bet to stay behind the plate. He figures to go in the second half of the first round, and he could challenge Chad Jenkins (No. 20 overall to the Blue Jays in 2009) as the highest pick in school history.
"The best true catcher is probably Pentecost," a club executive said. "He's going in the first round for sure. He doesn't have a lot of power, it's more alley and extra-base hits than pure power, but he's a good hitter, a good athlete and he can run. He can throw and he will get better as a receiver. I think it's a solid overall player at a tough position to find."
Though Pentecost needed surgery for a stress fracture in his throwing arm as a Winder-Barrow High (Winder, Ga.) senior, the Rangers nearly signed him as a seventh-round pick in 2011. He turned in solid freshman and sophomore seasons for Kennesaw State, but he didn't truly break out until he arrived in the Cape Cod League last summer.
Pentecost won MVP Award honors in the premier summer college circuit, leading the Cape with a .962 OPS. He has continued to excel this spring, batting .382/.440/.571 with five homers and 11 steals in his first 40 games while throwing out 33 percent of would-be basestealers.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Pentecost may not have a true plus tool, but he also doesn't have a glaring weakness either. A right-handed hitter, he has bat speed and controls the strike zone. While Pentecost's hitting skills stand out more than his pure power, he did hit six homers on the Cape while using a wood bat.
Extremely athletic for a catcher, Pentecost is an average runner and moves very well behind the plate. His arm strength is solid and he continues to improve as a receiver.