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Blue Jays draft Winder grad Max Pentecost in first round Thursday

Day of Pentecost

POSTED: June 7, 2014 12:00 p.m.
Photo Courtesy Kennesaw State/

Former Diamond Dogg and current Kennesaw State player Max Pentecost plays catcher for the Owls. He was initially drafted out of high school but chose to pursue college before moving on.

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For the second year in a row, Winder-Barrow High School had reason to celebrate in the first round of the Major League Baseball first-year player draft. 

Max Pentecost, a former Diamond Dogg and current Kennesaw State Owl, became the earliest Winder-Barrow graduate taken in the draft when the Toronto Blue Jays selected him eleventh overall. 

While Pentecost was the first overall draftee from the state of Georgia, he was the second player taken by the Blue Jays as they also had the ninth pick in the draft. Toronto selected Jeff Hoffman, a right-handed pitcher from East Carolina University, with their first pick.

“It’s a hard feeling to put into words. It’s a great feeling to know that all the hard work and time you’ve put in in the past has paid off,” Pentecost said after the draft.

While most draftees watch the event from the comfort of their own home, surrounded by family and friends, Pentecost had a more unique experience as he was still on the road with his team. Kennesaw State won the Tallahassee regional in the NCAA baseball tournament and take place in this weekend’s Louisville Super Regional.

Instead of sitting on a comfortable couch in his own living room, Pentecost had the opportunity to share in the celebration with all of his teammates in their Louisville hotel.

“If we were at home, not all of my teammates would have been able to be there,” Pentecost mentioned. “But now that we’re still playing, we all get to be together.”

Pentecost currently leads the Owls in just about every offensive category, boasting a .423 batting average with 59 runs and 110 hits in 260 at bats. He has also notched nine home runs in 2014, including one in the elimination game against Alabama’s Crimson Tide that sent the Owls to Louisville.

While it would have been easy for the Winder native to coast later in the year with a likely payday coming from the draft, Pentecost’s batting average dipped to a season low .296 after a rubber match win against Columbia on March 8. Since then, Pentecosts’ average has steadily climbed back to above .400 with a consistently upward trajectory.

His greatest statistical improvements coincided with Kennesaw’s incredible run at the back half of the season, as well. The Owls suffered a seven-game losing streak from their March 15 loss to Mercer to a March 25 loss at Auburn. During that time, Pentecost added .017 to his average, climbing from .319 to .336.

Since then, however, Pentecost has ridden the better part of a 36-game hitting streak which roughly coincides with Kennesaw’s incredible 28-6 run into the postseason. Pentecost also recorded at least one hit in each game of Kennesaw’s 16-game winning streak, including a 4-for-4 hitting performance with four RBIs and a run against Stetson on April 11.

Thursday’s selection was not the first time Pentecost has heard his name called on draft day, as he was initially selected in the seventh round of the 2011 Major League Draft by the Texas Rangers as the 234th overall pick straight out of Winder-Barrow High School. 

He likely would have been drafted higher then, but a senior year wrist surgery kept Pentecost out of much of the 2011 season at Winder-Barrow and held him to just pinch running duties in the GHSA playoffs.  

Rather than jump straight into his professional career, Pentecost opted to try his hand at college ball and has helped lead Kennesaw State to their most successful season to date.

“I’m hoping my time here helped make my team better and I’m hoping they take something from that,” Pentecost noted.

As exciting as the draft was for Pentecost and his teammates, the biggest stage in Kennesaw baseball history awaited the Owls on the Friday after, and Pentecost knew he would need to be fresh for that afternoon’s match-up with host Louisville.

“I’m going to try and get some sleep,” Pentecost said Thursday evening, “but it’s going to be tough with the excitement. I’m going to try and put it behind us and go play, and then I’ll worry about the next step.”

Kennesaw State lost a 3-1 lead late in Friday night’s opener against the Cardinals to eventually fall 5-3 and would need to fight back on Saturday in the double-elimination tournament if they hoped to see their first ever College World Series in Omaha, NE. 

Pentecost follows in the footsteps of Winder-Barrow’s Travis Demeritte who was taken in the first round of the 2013 MLB draft by the Texas Rangers as the 30th overall pick. Demeritte currently plays for the Class A Hickory Crawdads in the South Atlantic League. 

Of the 315 players picked through the first ten rounds of this year’s draft, 16 were from the state of Georgia and six were straight out of Georgia high schools.

Kennesaw State also saw centerfielder Bo Way drafted on Friday to the Angels in the seventh round as pick 209. 

As a draftee for the Blue Jays, Pentecost will likely start his career in the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays, based in Dunedin, FL, although his initial destination most likely will not be certain for a few days.

 

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