For the month of May, Cameron Perkins has been the hottest hitter in the minor leagues. So far this month he is hitting .419 going 18 for 46 with six doubles, a triple and a home run for the Clearwater Threshers. In last night’s game he showed why even when he does not square up the pitches he still gets base hits. Perkins went three for four on an infield chop to third, a broken bat looper to right and a bunt single down the third base line. Not exactly scalding the ball but all base hits none the less.
Perkins has a unique ability to put the ball in play on a consistent basis. He leads the Florida State League in hits and is second in hitting at .373 after the first quarter of the season which has just ended. He rarely strikes out and hits the ball usually on the line to all fields in the games I have seen him play.
It really was not to be like this for Perkins. In the minor league camp back in March he was listed on the working group four list. These players were being ticketed to start the season at Low A Lakewood. But in a late spring training game the scheduled Clearwater Thresher right-fielder Kelly Dugan injured his back and Perkins was able to work his way on to the Threshers’ opening day roster.
The problem is now where to play Perkins now that Dugan has returned to the lineup. Dugan hit one of the longest home runs this season at Brighthouse in last night’s game. He took a 2-0 fastball and lined it right over all three fences in right center and on out of the park for his second home run of the season. Kelly has played a strong defensive right field and has hit around .300 since returning from his back injury and certainly has put himself on the prospect outfield radar screen with his left-handed bat and strong arm.
Last year when I first saw Perkins play in the Gulf Coast League he was a corner infielder, then once he was moved to Williamsport he played the infield corners and right field. He hit .304. Now the Phillies minor league department has him playing in left field but his power numbers have improved and he leads the FSL with 16 doubles in only 35 games. He has struggled a bit defensively in left but he had never played the position before. He was a third baseman when the Phillies drafted him out of Purdue in last year’s draft.
Perkins just might be the right-handed hitting outfield bat the Phillies are looking for down the road at the major league level. He is hitting left-handed pitching at a .421 clip so far this season. I have no doubt he will be an excellent fielding left fielder once he gets more playing time there. Last night he showed his speed in picking up a stolen base in the 5-3 lost to the Bradenton Pirates.
Starter Hoby Milner pitched well enough to win in the game going five innings with seven strikeouts and giving up only three runs in a no decision for him. Wild late relief pitching cost the Threshers in the loss. In the early going Hoby got a few pitches up in the zone and gave up a couple of back to back doubles to end his scoreless inning steak at 18.1 consecutive innings of shutout baseball.
It’s hard to believe but one-fourth of the minor league season is already in the books. To me Cameron Perkins has had a breakout season and has been the position player surprise of the season so far in the Phillies system.
With both AA Reading and AAA Lehigh Valley playing under .500 baseball so far this season, I would not be surprised if roster shakeups take place in the near future. Cameron Perkins certainly should be one to be considered for moving up quickly in the Phillies minor league chain.