The Perkins System
Blake Perkins (MIL): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 5 RBI.
The story with Blake Perkins has always been about his great potential and tools, but failure to live up to that hype in the Minor Leagues.
Drafted in the second round by the Washington Nationals in the 2015 MLB Draft, Perkins has taken a long, winding road to his Major League debut this season with the Brewers.
After playing in rookie, Low-A, and High-A ball in the Nationals system from 2015 to 2018, Perkins was traded to the Kansas City Royals organization as part of a trade package in exchange for reliever Kelvin Herrera. In his first couple of years, he was known for displaying a patient eye at the plate, as evidenced by his 0.75 BB/K ratio in 2018 and 0.66 BB/K ratio in 2019, both with High-A Wilmington. That said, there were concerns about his hit tool, as he hit only .240 in 2018 and .226 in 2019 in High-A, respectively.
Those hit tool concerns came to fruition in Double-A Northwest Arkansas in 2019, as Perkins hit only .218 with a .614 OPS in 36 games and 122 plate appearances. To make matters worse, his trademark plate discipline also tumbled, as he only posted a 0.30 BB/K ratio in Double-A play.
Then the pandemic happened and Perkins lost a year of competitive play due to the cancellation of the Minor League season in 2020.
By the time play returned in 2021, Perkins’ struggles continued in Double-A Northwest Arkansas. In 72 games and 280 plate appearances, he hit .202 with a .651 OPS, which included seven home runs and nine stolen bases. The walk rate jumped back to his 2018 and 2019 High-A levels at 14.3%, but his K rate also inflated to 28.9%, a career-high.
After that 2021 campaign, Perkins found his way to the Yankees system where he seemed to finally blossom at 25 years of age. He posted a .815 OPS with 12 home runs and 17 stolen bases in 71 games with the Somerset Patriots. That earned him a promotion to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he continued his hot bat. In 30 games, he posted a .803 OPS, hit three home runs, and stole four bases.
Perhaps Perkins wasn’t going to be a “major star” prospect. However, after 2022 though, he showed that he could perhaps be a serviceable Major League fourth outfielder who could draw a walk, show some pop at the plate, and be efficient on the basepaths.
And the Brewers decided to take a chance on Perkins and see if he could be just that in 2023.
After a brief stint in April where he only collected 1 hit in 14 plate appearances that ended up with him being demoted back to Triple-A, Perkins was called up again for the Brewers’ series against the Reds. He made the most of his second call-up this year, as he not only collected two hits but hit a grand slam for his first career MLB home run.
The odds are long that Perkins will be up with the Brewers much longer, though injuries to other players, and the Brewers’ need for offense (they rank 24th in OPS) certainly help his case.
Regardless, Perkins is showing the Nationals, Royals, and even Yankees that they could have had an MLB outfielder on their hands, had they perhaps stayed a little more patient with him and his development at the plate.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Saturday
Marcus Semien (TEX): 4-6, 2 2B, HR, 4 R, 3 RBI.
Semien did major damage against the Mariners on Saturday, as he collected four hits, three RBI, two doubles, and a home run in the Rangers’ 16-6 blowout of Seattle. Semien was a controversial free agent signing in 2021 for Texas who got off to a slow start last season. However, Semien is currently hitting .304 with nine home runs and seven stolen bases in 57 games this season as the Rangers’ leadoff man. Safe to say, the former Athletic and Blue Jay is showing that he was worth the big-time contract in 2022.
Luis Arraez (MIA): 5-5, 3 2B, R, 5 RBI.
Arraez made personal history on Saturday as he collected the first five-hit game of his career in the Marlins’ 12-1 win over the Athletics. Arraez continues to make GM Kim Ng look smart after she acquired Arraez from Minnesota this past offseason in exchange for starting pitcher Pablo López. He is hitting .390 with a .926 OPS in 222 plate appearances. Granted, his profile still lacks home run power, as he only has one this year. That said, in terms of average, runs scored (20) and RBI (26), he still is proving to be a valuable fantasy player for managers who roster him.
Jake Bauers (NYY): 2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.
The Yankees have struggled to find consistent production in the outfield either due to injuries (Harrison Bader) or lackluster performance (Aaron Hicks). Bauers has given the Yankees though some production at the plate from the corner outfield positions, though it hasn’t really shown in the area of batting average, as evidenced by his .237 mark through 26 games. However, he has hit five home runs this year, which is his highest total since 2019 in Cleveland, and he is posting a .889 OPS in 72 plate appearances. In deep league formats, the 27-year-old journeyman could merit a roster spot for a team in need of outfield help, especially in OBP leagues.
Jake Fraley (CIN): 3-4, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB, 3 SB.
Fraley had a big day for the Brewers, even though the Reds lost to Milwaukee 10-8. Not only did he collect three hits and a home run, but he also nabbed three bases to boot. Fraley’s numbers are good, but not great. He is hitting .258 with a .765 OPS in 187 plate appearances and has six home runs and 11 stolen bases currently. Manager David Bell has utilized Fraley in the cleanup spot recently, so Fraley is in an ideal spot in the batting order, which could help his numbers grow in the coming month of June.
J.T. Realmuto (PHI): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI.
It’s been an underwhelming start for Realmuto to say the least. He is only hitting .254 with a .734 OPS in 202 plate appearances. He also only has four home runs, though he does sport seven stolen bases, which is an impressive number for a catcher. Nonetheless, the Phillies were expecting more from their catcher this season, especially considering the World Series aspirations after just falling short a season ago. Realmuto collected two hits and a home run against the Nationals on Saturday. A solid June would be a nice way for Realmuto to get back on track at the plate.
Chas McCormick (HOU): 2-5, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI.
It’s been an up-and-down 2023 for McCormick just based on his monthly splits. In April, he had a .883 OPS with two home runs and four stolen bases. In May, that OPS was only .552, and while he had two home runs still, he struck out 14 times while only walking three times. Thankfully for Astros fans, June has been a better month so far, highlighted by his two-hit, one-home-run performance against the Angels on Saturday.
Will Brennan (CLE): 1-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.
Cleveland needs hitting help, as I wrote about on Friday for Pitcher List. Brennan could be that one to help, as he has gotten some time in the outfield since the Guardians demoted Oscar Gonzalez to Triple-A after a slow start. The average and OPS aren’t impressive at .250 and .650, respectively. However, he doesn’t strike out or whiff a whole lot, and he puts the ball in play. Brennan could be to the Guardians this season what Owen Miller was to the team in 2022, which is a valuable utility bat who won’t strike out a ton and could keep innings alive.
Joey Wendle (MIA): 3-4, 2 2B, 3 R.
The Marlins acquired Wendle from the Rays last season to be a utility extraordinaire who could hold his own on the hitting end of things. So far though, it hasn’t worked out as planned. After hitting .259 in only 101 games, Wendle this year is hitting .217 with zero home runs, one stolen base, and five RBI in 70 plate appearances. Granted, injuries have been an issue for Wendle for the past two seasons, which explains his lower counting stats. That being said, he is 33 years old, so it’s hard to trust that injuries are suddenly going to get better at his age going forward.
Triston Casas (BOS): 2-3, 2B, 3B, RBI, BB.
In game two of the Red Sox’s doubleheader with the Rays, Casas collected two hits, which included a double and a triple. That was a nice line for a season thus far that has been rough for the first-year first baseman.
In 184 plate appearances, Casas is hitting .194 with a .678 OPS, which includes six home runs and 17 RBI. Strikeouts have been an issue for Casas so far, as he is striking out 28.3% of the time, which does slightly negate his high 14.7% walk rate. BABIP hasn’t been his friend so far, as he is sporting a .242 mark in 2023. That said, his 13.3% barrel rate, 91.4 MPH average exit velocity on batted balls, and .334 xwOBA signify that better days could be ahead for Casas and managers who roster him in their leagues.
Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)