Senior staff writer
All former Southport High School baseball standout Cameron Perkins needs to make it to the majors is better timing.
Marking his third professional baseball homecoming, Perkins was in Indianapolis recently for a three-game International League series with Lehigh Valley against the Indians. Perkins hit his first professional home run at Victory Field in the opening game, his first there since Southport played at the home of the Indians.
Perkins is in his fifth year in the Philadelphia Phillies organization, his third with Lehigh Valley. Through 49 games this season he is hitting .281 with 12 doubles, five homers and 17 RBIs.
Perkins and Lehigh Valley Manager Dusty Wathan agree that the 26-year-old just needs a break at the right time. The Purdue star was drafted in 2012 by the Phillies.
“Everything is going as good as it can go right now,” said Perkins of reaching the majors. “There’s not much else I can do, stay on the same path and good things will come.”
Wathan said, “He has the ability to play there. Being more versatile gives him a better chance to get to the big leagues. He’s not a highly touted prospect, but he’s a guy that I would take on my team anyplace, anywhere, anytime.”
Perkins has played all outfield positions and first and third base for the IronPigs. Wathan has used him as a leadoff and cleanup hitter and throughout the lineup. He led off and played center field against the Indians.
He was a third baseman at Southport, where he set a state record and a school mark with a .723 batting average as a junior.
Perkins said he never dreamed of being a leadoff center fielder. “I take pride in hitting anywhere in the lineup. I like being the guy leading off or hitting anywhere in the lineup; just need to be as versatile as the team needs me to be.”
The native Texan played for Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican Republic during the offseason, which improved his demeanor at the plate.
“I learned a lot down there and became better at the plate,” he said. “Just knowing the strike zone and pitch selection but still being aggressive. I look more for a specific pitch rather than a whole array of pitches.
“You have to pick your times to strike and pick your times to take a few pitches. You have to take advantage of the good pitch, and you might get that best pitch on the first pitch.”
Wathan commented on Perkins’improvement, “He’s able to control the strike zone a lot better. His walks are up, and that’s a big plus for him … he’s not a prototypical home run hitter, but he’s the guy who can hit some doubles for you and then score with some smart base running.”
Since playing for the IronPigs, Perkins has waited anxiously for the International League schedule to be posted each year so he can circle the dates they play at Victory Field. Homecoming is always exciting because he gets to play in front of family, friends and former coaches and players.
“I love everything about coming back,” Perkins said. “It’s special every year. I have about 30 to 40 guests here when I play each night. I’m sure they drink their share of beer and eat plenty of hot dogs. And it was nice to hit a home run in front of all my friends and family.”