The story of the 2021 Yankees minor league system was numerous players taking big offensive leaps forward. Early in the 2022 season many observers have started looking for the next group of players who will make similar progress this year. One of the strongest early candidates is outfielder Blake Perkins, who joined the Yankees organization in December and is off to a very fast start with Double-A Somerset.
Perkins was a highly touted prospect coming out of high school, where he earned the potential five tool prospect label during the draft process. The Nationals used their second-round pick in 2015 on him and were able to sign him away from a commitment to Arizona State University. Among his best tools at the time was his plus running ability that allowed him to cover a lot of ground in center field.
Perkins’s defense and tools continued to draw strong reviews, but his offensive game was struggling to catch up. He posted a 115 wRC+ in 2017 while playing at the Low-A level, but that proved to be his best offensive performance in the Nationals system. He was then traded to the Royals as part of the deal for reliever Kelvin Herrera in June of 2018. After a strong offensive start with the Royals’ High-A team in 2018 and again in 2019, Perkins struggled when promoted to Double-A where he finished the 2019 season and played again in 2021.
Following the 2021 season, Perkins joined the Yankees as a minor league free agent. Still possessing many of the tools that saw him rated as a top-30 organizational prospect for both the Nationals and Royals between 2016-2019, he looked like the type of player who could benefit from a fresh start.
Since kicking off the season with Double-A Somerset, Perkins has been on fire. The switch hitter, who had never hit more than eight home runs in a season, has clubbed five in his first 12 games to start the season. He kicked it into high-gear during the team’s recent series against the Rockies’ Double-A affiliate, the Hartford Yard Goats. Perkins hit four home runs during the six-game series, helping him earn Eastern League Player of the Week honors.
Through the 12 games, Perkins has 11 extra base hits and just 11 strikeouts. He is quickly approaching his 16 extra base hit total from 2021 that took him 72 games to reach. This shows that he has improved his impact on the ball, and his strikeout rate has actually gone down from where it was in 2019 and 2021. Yankees minor league hitting coordinator Joe Migliaccio went to twitter to say that Perkins had “improved contact quality, improved swing decisions and a decreased strikeout rate.”
Blake Blast✌️of the night pic.twitter.com/v6W6PWTgMW— Somerset Patriots (@SOMPatriots) April 24, 2022
Known for his defense, Perkins has been splitting time around the outfield this year, playing all three outfield positions. During the Hartford series he picked up an outfield assist throwing out a runner at the plate from right-field.
Is this improved offensive production sustainable for Perkins? We will soon find out, but last season players such as Oswaldo Cabrera and the since-traded Donny Sands broke out at the Double-A level. The early results are very promising — he appears to be a switch-hitting blend of power and speed with the ability to play outstanding defense. If he continues to put up big numbers, it is likely that he will experience his first taste of Triple-A in the near future and give the Yankees another potential option in the outfield.