Word comes from Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi that C Max Pentecost, the Blue Jays 1st round pick in 2014, has left the team’s spring training camp to ponder his future, and may be considering retirement.
Injuries have done a great deal to derail Pentecost’s career and rob him of development time, but truth be told, he’s been healthy the past two years and doesn’t have a lot to show for it.
Sent to the Arizona Fall League in 2017 after splitting time between C and 1B, there were predictions that the Blue Jays would turn Pentecost into something of a hybrid Catcher, limiting him to a couple of games a week behind the plate. A decent AFL showing had him on the cusp of the Blue Jays 40-man that year in advance of the Rule 5, but a flare up of his shoulder issues forced a shutdown, and there were no takers when he was left off.
Pentecost shared Catching duties with veteran Pat Cantwell at New Hampshire. Only a strong (EL Player of the Month) August brought his line up to a respectable .253/.283/.401. Pentecost worked with New Hampshire hitting coach on a toe gather that produced more consistent contact. The elephant in that hot August room was the meagre 3 walks Pentecost drew, and his over-aggressiveness returned in the playoffs, where he struggled at the plate.
Invited to spring training as a non-roster invitee this year, Pentecost had longed slipped behind Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire on the depth charts, and it’s likely he received word that he would be heading back to the Eastern League, with Cantwell moving up to back McGuire up, and Riley Adams probably pressing him for playing time after Catching for Dunedin last year. It’s only speculation, of course, but Pentecost is probably beyond frustrated at his lack of progress, and the events of this week may have him considering packing it in.
The 2014 draft was to be a shining jewel for then-GM Alex Anthopoulos and scouting director Blake Parker. After taking P Jeff Hoffman with the 9th over all pick, Toronto took the athletic Kennesaw State C Pentecost, with the idea likely of forming a dream battery one day in the Rogers Centre. Hoffman was dealt at the deadline in Anthopoulos’ flurry of activity in 2015, and has yet to establish himself as a major leaguer.
It’s hard to say where and when Pentecost’s career went off the rails, but the injuries surely didn’t help. He pressed upon his return to make up for lost time. Maybe because the Blue Jays carefully managed his workload he had trouble getting into a rhythm – his 89 games last year were a career high, but it meant that he wasn’t playing every day. Perhaps we haven’t seen the last of Pentecost, but he obviously needed some time to get his head together.