Pentecost, a junior catcher regarded as one of the nation’s top college players, became the highest pick in Kennesaw State history, selected by the Toronto Blue Jays with the 11th pick of Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft on Thursday.
Jenkins was previously the highest pick, when the Blue Jays picked him 20th overall in 2009. Since then, the right-hander quickly climbed up the ladder and is currently shuffling between Toronto’s major league roster and its Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo, N.Y.
This wasn’t the first time Pentecost had been drafted. The Texas Rangers selected him in the seventh round out of Winder-Barrow High School in 2011, but he continued his career with the Owls.
Pentecost heard his name called by commissioner Bud Selig from the team hotel in Louisville, Ky., where the Owls are in advance of this weekend’s NCAA super regional.
“It was an emotional time and exciting time all wrapped up into one,” longtime Kennesaw State coach Mike Sansing said. “(Toronto) had showed a ton of interest in him during the year. They were on him early, and scouts usually bounce from one game to another, but there were times when (the Blue Jays’ scouts) would be here Saturday and Sunday.”
This will likely be Pentecost’s final year at Kennesaw State, but he still has something to play for as the Owls’ vie for a place in the College World Series.
Pentecost has 58 RBIs and counting on the season, along with nine home runs and 23 doubles. He leads the team with 110 hits and 29 walks and posted a 36-game hitting streak this season.
Ranked 17th on Baseball American’s draft list, Pentecost is a finalist for the Dick Howser and Golden Spikes awards as the nation’s best player.
Sprayberry senior Michael Chavis was also selected in the first round Thursday night. Projected by some mock drafts to go with the Atlanta Braves as the 32nd pick, Chavis ended up going six slots earlier to the Boston Red Sox.
Chavis matched 1998 Baltimore Orioles selection Rick Elder as the earliest draft pick out of Sprayberry. Former Yellow Jackets ace Kris Benson was selected first overall in 1996, but not before a standout college career at Clemson.
“I’m thrilled and can’t be any more excited,” Chavis said in a conference call Thursday night, after hearing his name called by Selig in person, as a guest to the draft at MLB Network studios in Secaucus, N.J.
“Obviously, they have a great farm system and a great organization and I can’t wait to be a part of it. I talked to them a definite amount before the draft. I knew it was coming when they called my name. Up until then, I hoped it would happen and was thrilled that it did.”
Selected as the Gatorade Georgia Baseball Player of the Year last week after hitting .573 and helping lead Sprayberry to a Region 7AAAAA title, Chavis impressed scouts with his abilities with the bat.
A Clemson signee, Chavis finished with 13 home runs as a senior, adding 39 RBIs and 30 runs scored.
While Chavis is only 6 feet tall, his power comes from his stocky frame and strong legs. He’s a utility infielder who can play third base, shortstop or second base, and he can also catch.
With the Red Sox organization, he will likely play third base or second base.
In an interview with MLB Network, Chavis said his favorite Boston Red Sox player was four-time All-Star and former American League MVP Dustin Pedroia, who’s 5-9.
“People say I’m a little dude, kind of,” Chavis said, “so I like how he plays the game. He plays the game hard.”