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The Wait May Be Over, Max Pentecost Coming Soon?

As a member of the Vancouver Canadians Hall of Fame, I think Steve Ewen can be trusted.  So, although nobody will confirm it with me, I’m going to say that Ewen’s piece having Toronto Blue Jays 2014 1st round pick (11th overall) Max Pentecost arriving in sun-drenched Vancouver on today is accurate.

I vaguely remembered saying I was going to stop doing something until Pentecost arrived.  Thankfully it wasn’t breathing as this whole process has taken far longer than I had predicted.  It took longer to put pen to paper, considering he ended up signing at slot.  Pentecost’s time in the GCL (6 games) was stretched out longer than I would have thought.  True, apparently there were paperwork issues that delayed arrival, but still, I expected Max to be in Vancouver far earlier than this.

So, with the C’s season almost half done, what can we expect from the Georgia native?

Pentecost is easily the most polished prospect to grace our fair Nat since Marcus Stroman in 2012.  Stroman was here for two odd weeks before being promoted to AA New Hampshire.  I don’t think Max will move that quickly.  Stroman, out of the 2012 draft, was consistently called the ‘most major league ready arm’ in the draft, and probably would have seen some time in the Blue Jays bullpen if not suspended at the end of the 2012 season.

Pentecost is by no means major league ready.  Listening to Chris King on the latest Around the Nest Podcast he was absolute in his assessment, saying there is “definitely work to be done on both his footwork and his release on throws.   There’s nothing that bad though, he’ll be serviceable behind the plate.”

The Kennesaw Stat alum won’t lack for instruction.  John Schneider, the C’s manager, is an ex-catcher himself while I’m sure we’ll be seeing the magnificent moustache that is Sal Fasano in Vancouver at some point.

So while I don’t think Pentecost’s rise through the Jays system will be as meteoric at Stroman’s, I don’t really expect to see him here for the rest of the season either.

Catcher used to be a position of both strength and depth in the Jays system.  Trades haven’t helped, but it’s been the injuries and subsequent struggles of guys like Santiago Nessy and A.J. Jimenez which leaves a dearth of top quality receivers in the organization.  Provided Pentecost plays well, he immediately goes to the head of the prospect queue.

With both Lansing (Mike Reeves/Dan Klein) and Dunedin (Nessy/Jorge Saez) only carrying two active catchers at the moment I can see Seth Conner making his third trip to Michigan while Pentecost is in Vancouver.  If and when the Jays decide to promote Max then he could just swap places with Conner or head to Dunedin (remember, the D-Jays have already booked a playoff spot which may have some bearing on the situation) which means there will be a more involved trickle down effect.

So, Vancouver, enjoy him while you can.  What can we expect from Pentecost while here?  I think the most common term used to describe him coming out of the draft was athletic.  Although, as noted above, there is still work to be done on the defensive side, I don’t think there is any doubt that he’ll stick behind the dish.  He’s quick and agile and the aforementioned athleticism should ensure the necessary improvements are made.

The bat will play.  Pentecost raised a few eyebrows, hitting seven home runs in the prestigious Cape Cod League last summer while walking away with the MVP honours.  He followed that up with nine long balls his junior season.  Despite that, I don’t think the Jays will be expecting huge home run totals.  Most scouting reports talk more of a gap to gap type of hitter who will hit plenty of doubles while running into a decent amount, especially on the pull side.

As this video shows, Pentecost’s swing is very simple, with a small toe tap timing mechanism and quick hands.  He has the ability to see pitches longer, looking to drive the ball up the middle.  That allows him to react well to off-speed pitches

For a catcher, Max is a plus runner, stealing 20 plus bases in his final year of college.  Like the home runs, I don’t think we should be expecting another Roemon Fields in Vancouver, but any time you have a catcher who gets up the line at around 4.3 seconds is pretty quick.

He’s also shown excellent base running instincts, something that will remain once the rigours of catching every day catches up to his knees, and hence speed.

I know this is going to sound a bit cliche but Pentecost is a true all-rounder (to use a bit of cricket parlance) and one that should be a ton of fun to watch during his, potentially brief, Northwest League career.

I suspect people may get a bit sick of me talking about him over the next few weeks.

Notes from the Press Box:

Speaking of Fields and stolen bases, the Seattle native broke the Canadians record Monday night, swiping both 2nd and 3rd after leading off the 3rd inning with a single.

Reggie Thomas holds the single season Northwest League stolen base record when he swiped 72 for the Portland Mavericks back in 1974 (for those of us born in ’74, we know all to well, that was 40 years ago).  I did a bit of napkin math and figure that with 7 games left in the first half and 38 in the second half, Fields plays (barring injury) in 43 games the rest of the year.  If he gets on base at his current 1.5ish times per game he’ll need to maintain his current pace of running 60% of the time from first and then (like tonight) take 3rd enough times to push him over the edge.

Could be interesting.  Lost, a bit, in the Fields freight train story is how good both Franklin Barreto and Tim Locastro have been on the basepaths.  Both swiped one tonight, giving them 11 and 12 on the season at 85% and 100% success rates.

Finally, was sitting next to a Brewers scout who was trying to come up with a comp for Barreto after seeing him take infield.  ‘With his think lower half I couldn’t think of anyone, maybe Miguel Tejada

Ya, I’d take that.

(author’s note: unfortunately, having two kids bugging me, I tend to write articles over a couple of days.  This is one of those articles.  As per this link, the Pentecost to Vancouver move has been confirmed)

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