That Austin Pentecost was taken by the Chicago Cubs in major league baseball’s first-year player draft was no surprise.
That he was still alive to receive the news, however, was no done deal.
“I was sitting on pins and needles, waiting for a phone call, watching the draft live,” the Lewis-Clark State College pitcher from Kennewick said Wednesday night after being drafted in the 29th round.
The toughest part, he added, came on the second day of the draft Tuesday when his friends kept texting and calling.
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“Did you go yet? Did you go yet?,” Pentecost said with a painful laugh. “Every time the phone rings, your heart stops.”
But aside from that little speed bump, life is pretty good for Pentecost, who will report to camp in Arizona in a few days, then await assignment, possibly playing for Boise in the Northwest League and making a few stops at Gesa Stadium to play the Tri-City Dust Devils.
“That would be a dream come true,” he said.
A dream is what Pentecost figured his professional prospects would remain until going to L-C State after playing two years at Walla Walla Community College.
He was a part-time pitcher and outfielder on Kennewick’s 2008 championship team.
“He was a late bloomer, and you could see him being a late bloomer,” said his high school coach, AJ Marquardt. “I’m glad he stuck with it, because he sure has had a nice college career.”
And Pentecost figured college would be the end of it until he arrived at the L-C State campus in Lewiston in 2010. Then he took part in the NAIA powerhouse’s annual scout day, a scrimmage among players in front of some 25 big league scouts.
“It just helps get your name out there,” said Pentecost, who didn’t expect to create much of a stir. “The next day when my pitching coach handed me 15 letters to fill out, that was huge. I kept all of them.”
Pentecost became one of team’s most reliable relievers that season, going 2-0 with a 1.61 ERA in 22 1/3 innings.
He moved into the starting rotation this spring and went 6-3 with a 2.82 ERA in 14 starts. He gave up 59 hits and 41 walks in 79 2/3 innings, striking out 71.
After talking with scouts from 15 or 20 teams during the season and filling out piles of paperwork, Pentecost knew his named would be called in the draft.
Still, as he thought about it Wednesday night, it was a little surreal.
“Whoever thought?” he asked.