Scouting Jays' Prospect #31: Vince Perkins

Perkins is Working Hard on His Command

The Toronto Blue Jays drafted RHP Vince Perkins out of Lake City Community College in the 18th Round of the 2000 Major League Baseball Draft. The hard throwing right hander has steadily moved up the ladder in the Blue Jays system, but his ranking fell this season after he pitched in the Eastern League for the first time. Perkins has some minor flaws in his game, but still has a chance to be a contributor to the major league club.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Vince Perkins
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: September 27, 1981
Height: 6'5
Weight: 225
Bats: Left
Throws: Right

The Blue Jays thought they had found a potential top of the rotation starter in the 18th round when they selected Vince Perkins with the 538th overall pick in the 2000 amateur draft. Perkins is from Victoria, British Columbia, and has the potential to be a rare Canadian player that comes up from the Jays system. Perkins has often been compared to fellow Canadian phenom Rich Harden, who like Perkins, has impressive stuff but needs to improve his control to be an impact pitcher in the big leagues. The two were in fact high school teammates, and remain good friends to this day.

After pitching for Lake City Community College in Florida, the Jays signed Perkins as a draft and follow in 2001. That year he started 14 games for Auburn, and while his 6.4 walks per 9 innings ratio was not impressive, his 67 strikeouts in 52 innings was a clear sign of his potential. In 2002 he pitched again for Auburn, and dropped his BB/9 IP to 5.45 while again recording an impressive 85 strikeouts in 72.2 innings. For the two years combined he held the opposition to an extremely impressive .208 average, with almost 11 strikeouts per 9 innings.

Perkins absolutely dominated in Charleston to start 2003. He did not give up a single run in his first 27+ innings, and allowed a paltry 19 hits in his 44 innings of work, for an opposition average of just .136, before being promoted to Dunedin. His control was still an issue, however, which became even more apparent after his move to the Florida State League. He allowed 5.65 BB/9 IP in Dunedin, a rate which might have been passable in the low minors, but one he will have to improve upon to continue to climb in the Jays organization. He also threw 7 wild pitches. But his strikeout numbers remain impressive, and his ability to limit the long ball is amazing. Perkins also does a good job in keeping the ball low, and limited the home run ball.

Perkins repeated the Florida State League in 2004, however, his workload was cut short with multiple trips to the disabled list. In 52.2 innings, he pitched to a 1-4 record and a 3.95 ERA, while allowing 53 hits, 24 walks and striking out 47 batters.

"I spent pretty much all of the 2004 season on the disabled list, and it is somewhere that I just don't like to be," Perkins said of his 2004 season. "You are not involved at all. You watch the players warm up and then head off to the training room. You feel left out."

Perkins pitched in the Arizona Fall League following his injury plagued 2004 season and made five relief appearances. In six innings, he allowed seven hits, six walks and struck out six batters.

The recently turned 25-year-old began the 2005 season with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and started off on a strong note, although his inconsistent command began to show right away. Opponents were batting just .221 off the right-hander after his first ten starts of the season, but in 53.1 innings, the Canadian had issued 22 walks.

Perkins struggled in June, posting a 6.97 ERA in four starts. His strikeout ratio continued to be abnormal and it began to worry many talent evaluators. Through his first 74 innings of work, Perkins had recorded just 30 strikeouts. On June 23, however, Perkins was placed on the disabled list, and many speculated his stuff was being affected because he was pitching hurt. Perkins was officially placed on the disabled list with a rib injury, and sources told InsideTheDome the injury was not related in any way to his elbow problems in 2004.

Although his ERA was high after Perkins returned from the disabled list in July, his stuff was back. Over his last 12 starts he recorded 57 strikeouts in 57 innings of work, however, also walked 21 batters. Opponents batted just .193 off Perkins in July and .236 off him in August, and most of the runs he allowed came because of his high walk ratio.

"My control is the most important thing that I need to work on," Perkins told InsideTheDome. "Without my control I know I won't amount to anything. A pitchers command is the hardest thing to get down."

Year

Team

W-L

IP

H

BB

K

ERA

2001

Auburn

1-4

52

41

37

67

3.29

2002

Auburn

5-5

72.2

51

44

85

3.34

2003

Charleston

3-1

44.1

19

22

60

1.83

2003

Dunedin

7-6

84.1

58

53

69

2.45

2004

Dunedin

1-4

54.2

53

24

47

3.95

2005

New Hampshire

7-7

131.2

124

51

111

4.03



Repertoire: Fastball, slider, changeup

Fastball: Perkins features a overpowering fastball that topped out at 96 mph this past summer and is consistently in the 93-95 mph range. The hardest the right-hander has ever thrown his fastball was at 98 MPH. Perkins' goal is to keep the fastball low, and induce the ground ball. That is an aspect of his game that he does succeed in.

Other Pitches: To go along with his powerful fastball, Perkins features a nasty slider, and an improved changeup. His slider is ranked as one of the nastiest and hardest pitches in the Jays organization. Perkins' slider ranges in the 84-88 MPH range. His changeup is the third pitch in his repertoire, and is a developing pitch. The Canadian has improved on that pitch over the years, but still has room to make it a more effective pitch.

Projection: As his high stikeout numbers suggest, Perkins is a prototypical power pitcher. He consistently throws his fastball in the mid-90's, and has a very good slider. Refining his control, and developing a changeup to compliment his hard stuff, will be the keys to his future success, or lack there of. It has been suggested he tries too hard to make the perfect pitch, looking for the strikeout instead of relying on his defense to make the play, which leads to his high number of walks. Hopefully a change in approach can cure these troubles. Otherwise, a switch to the bullpen may be necessary, and some have mentioned him as a potential closer, though the Jays have not given up on him as a starter yet. Perkins also has inconsistent mechanics, and his lack of proper mechanics have led to injuries in the past.

2006 Outlook: We wanted Perkins to be challenged in 2005 and start off the season in New Hampshire and the organization did just that. It will be interesting to see how the organization plays it in 2005. Will they continue promoting Perkins despite his high walks ratios, or will they keep him in New Hampshire to work on his command.

ETA: It all depends on how his command improves, or does not improve. The organization also needs to decide whether they view Perkins as a starter or a reliever We projected in 2005 that Perkins will see his first major league action in 2006, and will hold that stance. A September call-up is likely, assuming Perkins remains healthy and lowers his walk totals.

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