Q&A with Rangers 7th round pick Max Pentecost

While it initially appeared that catcher Max Pentecost would need Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, a visit to Dr. James Andrews revealed that he needed a more minor procedure and should be healthy by September. Lone Star Dugout interviews the Rangers' seventh-round pick.

The Texas Rangers selected Georgia high school catcher Max Pentecost in the seventh round of last week's MLB Draft.

As Pentecost explains in the following interview, he initially formed a relationship with Ryan Coe––the Rangers' area scout in Georgia––when he was a sophomore in high school. Coe––then an assistant coach at Kennesaw State University––recruited Pentecost, who eventually signed a letter of intent with the school.

Now, Coe is working for the Rangers, and he was able to draft a player he has followed for the last few years.

Pentecost entered the 2011 campaign with high hopes but dropped to the seventh round after missing much of his senior year due to an elbow injury. Although a local article says Pentecost needed Tommy John surgery, the backstop explains (below) that after visiting Dr. James Andrews, it was decided that Tommy John wasn't necessary. Instead, he had two screws inserted into his elbow to repair a lingering stress fracture. He expects to be back throwing and hitting by September.

Knowing about the injury, the Rangers recently hosted Pentecost in Arlington, where he toured the facilities and met with the club's team doctor.

When healthy, the 6-foot-2, 191-pound catcher was regarded among the top high school players in the state of Georgia. He's a good athlete with a strong arm behind the plate, and his bat provides some intriguing raw power.

Lone Star Dugout recently caught up with the 18-year-old, who will have the choice of either signing with the Rangers or attending Kennesaw State.

Jason Cole: What were your thoughts on getting selected by the Rangers in the draft?

Max Pentecost: It was indescribable. Ever since I was a little kid, I've dreamed of playing professional baseball. I was never knowing that I would get the chance out of high school. My family is excited, friends are excited, and I just thank the lord for everything that he has given me and for this opportunity period.

Cole: Were you sitting around the computer watching the draft?

Pentecost: At that point, I had just gotten back from the orthodontist. I was just sitting around, listening, and seeing if I knew anyone that went. I thought, before I went, that I would get a phone call. But whenever I heard my name, I was shocked. I couldn't even talk.

Cole: You had Tommy John surgery this year, right?

Pentecost: No. Once I hurt my arm, we went to three doctors here in Georgia. We had MRIs and they said I had a torn ligament––the UCL. But then we went to Dr. Andrews in Alabama. In 2008, my freshman year, I'd had a stress fracture. We let it heal. And then last summer, the stress fracture occurred again. We probably should have had something done to it then, but we really didn't know. So we let it heal, and then again this year, it finally popped. It was just the same stress fracture. I just had two screws put in it about a month ago.

Cole: So you hadn't had any surgeries on it before this one about a month ago?

Pentecost: Yes, this was the first surgery I've ever had on it.

Cole: Did that keep you out for pretty much all of your senior season?

Pentecost: Between that and my dislocated fingers, it did. I played 16 of our 30 games, I think.

Cole: How much contact did you have with the Rangers through your high school career?

Pentecost: Well, originally Coach Coe––our area scout––he was at Kennesaw State University when I was a freshman and sophomore. And I committed there when he was there––when he was coming to scout me. And then my junior year, he went to the Rangers.

From there on out, I talked to Coach Coe a lot. He has been real high on me. Last week, we went down to Texas to meet down with the team doctor. That's pretty much it. We had a good bit of contact with him.

Cole: You were not the only Georgia native and Kennesaw State recruit to be drafted by the Rangers. Do you know Nathan Harsh at all?

Pentecost: Yeah, I know him real well.

Cole: Talking a little more about your injury, can you tell me about what stage of the rehab process you're currently in? And what is the timetable for getting you back on the field?

Pentecost: Right now, they gave the bone time to heal and I've just started stretching it. I almost have full range of motion already. I'm not supposed to do any heavy lifting, but I do forearm stretches and shoulder workouts.

When I talked to Dr. Dugan––up at Andrews' office––he was the one that did my surgery. And he said from the date of the surgery, I can hit three months later and after four months I can throw. So I'm looking at August to hit and September to throw.

Cole: You said you recently went to Arlington to see the Rangers' team doctor. Did you get a chance to see the facilities and kind of tour around?

Pentecost: Yes, sir, I did. I went down there, and we met with the general manager and a bunch of other people. We got to tour the stadium, the locker rooms, the field, and all that really, really good stuff––and the weight room.

Cole: What was that behind-the-scenes experience like?

Pentecost: That was probably the most exciting experience I've had so far. Just being in the actual stadium and seeing the locker room––very few people besides the players get to see that, and I was there first-hand. Once I went to that, I was just praying that the Rangers actually did draft me. That was by far the most memorable thing I've ever done.

Cole: Yeah, I was going to ask how happy you were when you found out the Rangers drafted you. It seems like you already have a very strong relationship with the organization.

Pentecost: Out of all the teams, that was the one I was just praying for. Because they knew the situation with my arm. They actually had a pitcher that had the same surgery, and they said he has come back and is doing phenomenal.

Cole: How long have you been catching for?

Pentecost: I've been catching for about six years.

Cole: What was your position before that?

Pentecost: I played shortstop and pitcher. What I'd do is I would catch and then I'd come in and pitch and close the game. That's originally what caused my arm to fracture in the first place––back in my freshman year. So I quit that and then the damage was already done, so we had to finally get it fixed for good.

Cole: How do you like playing behind the plate? What were some of the bigger challenges as you first started to move back there?

Pentecost: I've done it for a good while, and I'm pretty comfortable. I love just being in the game every single play and being the leader on the team. I like helping the pitcher with getting calls and blocking balls––helping to get his mind right. I just love having the weight on my shoulders. I like being able to guide a team and help them whenever they're struggling or anything.

Cole: If you do move on to professional baseball, what are some things you'd like to work on with a professional coaching staff?

Pentecost: I'll probably have to work more offensively. I have power and I hit consistently, but I've always kind of been on my own with hitting. I've always focused more on catching. Hitting just kind of came naturally. Now, moving on, you're going to see much, much better pitching. I wouldn't say I'm going to need help––but I am definitely going to need tuning up to be prepared and get used to that kind of pitching.

Cole: What kind of hitter do you view yourself as? Can you talk about your approach at the plate?

Pentecost: I'm more of a gap-to-gap hitter. I have the power and it comes out every once in awhile, but I'm more of a doubles and singles guy. I have really good speed for a catcher, so it's not hard for me to get a double or anything.

Usually, I try to stay up the middle. And then if they come in, then I'll pull it. But I usually try to stay up the middle or away––that's where I'm most effective. That's really about it. I have power, but I usually use more of the line drive mentality and then let the home runs come on their own.

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