Healthy Pentecost contributingBy ALEX HALL
New Hampshire Union Leader
July 05. 2018 10:19PM
MANCHESTER — Max Pentecost became frustratingly familiar with the disabled list over his first three years in the Toronto Blue Jays’ system.
Pentecost has had three shoulder surgeries since Toronto selected him with the 11th overall pick in the 2014 MLB June Amateur Draft. The catcher from Winder, Ga., had played in 223 minor league games entering the New Hampshire Fisher Cats’ game against the Reading Fightin’ Phils on Thursday.
“You can only play the hand you’re given,” Pentecost said before Thursday’s game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. “I’m probably mentally tougher now than I was then. I’ve learned a lot about my body and I think it’ll help me in the long run.”
The 25-year-old has managed to stay healthy this season with the Fisher Cats, which is his first at the Double-A level. Pentecost, Toronto’s No. 29 prospect according to MLB.com, credited that feat to what he has learned about his body while recovering from previous injuries along with the team’s training department and strength and conditioning coach Ryan Maedel.
“You learn what works and what doesn’t work for your body,” Pentecost said. “You kind of put it all together and make it to where we are now.”
Pentecost, who was the 2013 Cape Cod League MVP as a member of the Bourne Braves, has gained perspective on how to prepare, recover and listen to his body.
“You’ve got to pay attention to that because if you ain’t playing, you ain’t doing the team any good,” Pentecost said.
The Kennesaw (Ga.) State University product recorded a .214 average with three home runs, 21 RBIs, 18 runs scored and 12 walks over his first 52 games this season. While Pentecost said his offensive production has not been ideal, he has made strides in his defensive game this year. He has become more comfortable and built strong relationships with the New Hampshire pitchers.
“Early on, we had a bunch of older guys from last year and they had a very good sense of their game plan, what they wanted,” Pentecost said of the Fisher Cats’ pitching staff. “I actually learned more probably from them than they did from me, honestly. Now, we’ve got pretty much a new bullpen. The younger guys, we’re kind of working together — their strengths, putting their game together. So far it’s been really good.”
When building chemistry with a new pitcher, Pentecost’s first step is gaining trust.
“It begins by just trusting each other — letting them know that you’re there for them and that they can come to you for advice,” Pentecost said. “And if I do give some kind of advice, it’s not criticizing. It’s trying to help them.”
Now that his first Double-A campaign has reached the latter months, Pentecost is looking to stay healthy, finish stronger than he started at the plate and continue helping the Fisher Cats’ hurlers find success.
“I think for me, the best I can be defensively is going to benefit me and then any strides I can really make offensively is really going to help me,” Pentecost said. “I’m not going to try to be too specific because that’s what I’m still trying to figure out — what areas am I going to benefit by focusing on and whatnot.”