“Are you interested in being a Chicago Cub at the No. 4 pick in the draft?”
That, according to a friend of Rumors and Rants, was the question posed to Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost by Cubs president Theo Epstein in a conversation this week. It would appear Pentecost didn’t say no, because Epstein followed it up by seeing him in person on Thursday as the Owls played in the Atlantic Sun tournament.
So who is Max Pentecost?
The 6-foot-2, 192-pound junior is ranked second in Division I this season with a .426 batting average and ranks 19th in on-base percentage at .479.
While many consider Indiana’s Kyle Schwarber the top catcher in college baseball, the consensus among big league scouts is that Schwarber will probably be moved to left field at the next level — making Pentecost the top collegiate prospect projected to remain behind the plate.
An MLB.com article published in mid-April projected Pentecost to go in the mid- to late-first round of the June 5 MLB Draft, so either his strong season has increased his value, or Epstein is dedicated to making sure he’s found his catcher of the future. Considering the role Jason Varitek played on Theo’s championship teams in Boston, it’s not all that surprising he’d be trying to get another piece to fill out a potentially sick infield that might someday consist of Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo.
A scouting report on SB Nation says Pentecost is “an adequate receiver behind the plate… 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.
So while the Major League product remains a mess, Pentecost appears to be the kind of guy that would fit into a minor league system that has risen near the top of baseball. It’s not certain the Cubs will actually follow through and take him, but we can see why they’re hot on his trail.