Blake Perkins CF Hagerstown Suns
Future Grades Hit (50-) / Power (30+) / Run (60) / Defense (60) / Arm (50+)
Drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 2nd round (69th overall) in 2015 from an Arizona high school, Perkins agreed to an $800,000 signing bonus. Born in September 1996, Perkins is a switch-hitting, right-handed throwing center fielder. Perkins is a lean 6-1 165lbs who projects to add both strength and muscle mass as he matures. An impressive athlete, Perkins has plus speed, consistently running 4.06-4.11 seconds home to first from the left side. Finally, he also seemingly possesses quality makeup, consistently hustling, cheering his teammates and often with a smile on his face.
In the field Perkins appears to be born to play center field, as he utilizes his speed and lengthy strides to effortless track the baseball. Perkins shows solid instincts in the outfield and takes quality routes to the baseball. Perhaps the only knock is his current arm strength, which flashes more fringe-average to average at present. I expect this to improve in future seasons as he adds strength. As with any 20-year-old he needs additional game experience, but Perkins profiles as a plus defender in center field.
Offensively Perkins is a natural right-handed hitter who committed to switch-hitting full-time as a professional. The ball carries well off his bat and he will show some eye-raising pull power in batting practice. Perkins has better than average bat speed and recognizes spin fairly well for this level. His swing, both lefty and righty, is longer than it should be for a table setter and will need to be reduced in order to make more contact. In addition, his balance at the plate can waver and he does not always stay balanced through his swing. Pure speculation, but I wonder if his lack of present strength contributes to these flaws. I envision Perkins needing another 1,000+ minor league at-bats to refine his swing mechanics and approach, but I project a future fringe-average hitter who hits the occasional home run.
When drafted Perkins was known to have impressive physical tools but his baseball skills, particularly offensively, were raw and would need to be refined. Through this lens, Perkins has developed quicker than expected, serving as Hagerstown’s leadoff hitter and center fielder two years after being selected. Defensively he is a natural in center field and his offensive skills, particularly his left-handed swing, have blossomed more quickly than the organization could have anticipated.
Perkins is an intriguing prospect with the potential for three above-average tools in his defense, speed and throwing arm. There are questions surrounding his offensive future and if he can make the necessary adjustments to make more contact and capitalize on his speed. Plus, his distance from the majors is an obvious concern as well. That said his defensive aptitude, speed and base stealing potential give him a floor as a 5th outfielder/ Quad-A player. However, if his offensive skills continue to blossom, his ceiling is a 2nd division, defensive-first center fielder. There is plenty of risk, but Perkins should be a coveted name during trade discussions this month.