Blake Perkins (#2) mobbed at home plate after launching game-winning, three-run homer in the opening game of Sunday’s doubleheader with Delmarva. (Photo courtesy: Patrick Cavey)
If you followed what happened Sunday at the Hagerstown Suns doubleheader, you know that Blake Perkins had a walk-off 3-run home run in the first game of their doubleheader, and a walk-off single in the second game of the doubleheader. That is a rare feat at any level, and it was Perkins’ first walk-offs he has had at any level.
In the 2015 amateur draft, the Nationals chose two speedy and athletic center fielders in the 2nd round. One was Andrew Stevenson out of LSU and the other was Blake Perkins out of Verrado High School near Glendale, Arizona. The curious part to many Nationals fans is how Blake Perkins went from a right-handed hitter to a switch-hitter as an 18-year-old who only batted lefty one game as part of a high school pact among teammates that they would all bat lefty in their final game.
“How I became a switch-hitter started on my last game of High School on Senior Night for fun with 4 or 5 of my other teammates, we decided that we’d hit lefty,” Blake Perkins told us. “And I hit a home run left-handed in that game and it was on video. My mom sent it out to some scouts and that became a common question I was asked by scouts as to whether I was a switch-hitter.”
Before the 2015 draft, Perkins went to Washington, D.C. with some other draft eligible players for an evaluation in front of Nationals scouts and front office personnel. They threw him batting practice while he hit right-handed then they asked him to hit left-handed which he did. Perkins is a natural righty, but he feels he could do many things as a lefty if he had to like eating or even throwing a baseball. Clearly he is ambidextrous, and while he has only been switch-hitting for a year and a half he is getting most of his work hitting against predominantly right-handed pitchers which has helped his strength batting lefty.
The 20-year-old Perkins is slashing an impressive .325/.416/.403/.818, and he is smashing right-handed pitching at a .388 batting average with a .483 OBP while struggling against left-handed pitching at .214. Once Perkins can get his stats up against left-handed pitching, he should be ready for a promotion to the P-Nats in High-A ball.
You might wonder how a natural right-handed batter is all of a sudden struggling against lefty pitching, and it could just be the smaller sample sizes. This will be interesting to keep an eye on.
In 2015, Perkins began his pro career in the Gulf Coast League and went through two rounds of instructs. He spent a lot of his time working on the art of switch-hitting with Mark Harris and Troy Gingrich. Troy is a natural lefty and Mark Harris is a switch hitter.
Perkins favorite player growing up was Derek Jeter because he liked how he played the game. He grew up in Long Beach, California and moved after his freshman year in high school to Arizona. He said it was a tough transition, and his off-season home is still in Arizona. Blake committed to Arizona State during his Junior year of high school, but always thought if he was a high draft pick he would go straight to the minor leagues.
Perkins’ goals are very simple on what he wants to accomplish in his first year of A-ball.
“I want to be consistent and play as many games as I can,” Perkins said. “I want to get my body ready to play a full season. No ups and downs, just consistency.”
Perkins has played with Victor Robles in the GCL and knows who the other center fielders are at each level as he rattled off the names of Rafael Bautista and Andrew Stevenson along with Victor Robles. He said he likes learning and watching good players play. He has been impressed with many of his teammates, and said Juan Soto is one of the best players he has played with.
On his Hagerstown Suns team, Perkins said it’s a great team to watch as they have bonded well and have a great morale. By the way, he said Hagerstown is the best team he has ever played on.
Get ready for Blake Perkins to move up the Nationals’ prospect rankings when the mid-year analysis are completed.