At The Letters: Blue Jays prospect Max Pentecost rounding into form

Blue Jays catching prospect Max Pentecost. (Icon Sportswire/AP)

At 24, Blue Jays prospect Max Pentecost is more than a year older than the average age of the Florida State League, where he’s beginning his 2017 season.

“Missing all of 2015 is going to do that to you,” says John Schneider, Pentecost’s manager with the Dunedin Blue Jays. “But he’s right where he should be. And if all goes well, hopefully he’s a guy who can move fairly quickly.”

Of course, Pentecost missed more than 16 months of development as he underwent three operations on his right shoulder. Back on the field and back behind the plate this season, the 2014 first round pick is putting up some impressive numbers, hitting eight home runs in his first 36 games and boasting an .866 OPS.

“The power has been a pleasant surprise from him at the plate this year,” Schneider said. “He’s a special cat because he’s a really good athlete and a really good catcher—he’s very agile behind the plate, he’s got a great arm. … And then you throw the bat in there as well and you’re talking about a pretty special player.”

This week, Schneider joined At the Letters, Sportsnet’s Blue Jays podcast hosted by Arden Zwelling and Ben Nicholson-Smith, to talk about Pentecost and several of the other prospects he’s managing with Dunedin this year.

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At The Letters
At The Letters - May 24th
Originally aired May 24 2017

A former catcher himself, Schneider said he thinks part of Pentecost’s success this year can be attributed to the right-handed hitter getting back behind the plate after being limited to DH duty when he first returned from his long layoff last season. So far this year, Pentecost has played 18 games as Dunedin’s designated hitter, nine at first base, and another nine as catcher.

“Whenever you’re not involved with the defensive part of it, especially being the catcher where you’re involved with every pitch, that’s going to take its toll on you,” Schneider said. “Now, it’s so refreshing to see him and interact with him in between innings and in between at-bats, and really see the type of guy and type of player he is. I think the more he’s on the field, the more you’re going to see positive results from him.”

Schneider also provided an update on Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who has appeared in only one game this season thanks to a strained right hamstring. Schneider expects to have Gurriel back in his lineup sometime in the next two weeks, and is excited to see what the Cuban—who signed a seven-year, $22-million contract with the Blue Jays last winter—can do on the field.

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“He’s a pretty exciting player,” Schneider said. “The first thing that jumps out is his offensive potential. He has the chance to be a really good hitter, I think.”

Listen to the full episode to hear Schneider’s thoughts on several other young prospects, like pitchers T.J. Zeuch, Jordan Romano, and Ryan Borucki, who the Dunedin manager says could be on an express path to the major leagues if his development continues trending the way it is now.

“If you want to win one game—talking in the minor leagues—in my opinion, he’s the guy to give the ball to,” Schneider said. “If he continues the way that he’s throwing, he’s a guy who can come up to the big leagues pretty quickly.”