Nats’ Perkins Makes The Switch

VIERA, Fla.–Though center fielder Blake Perkins is just 19 years old, he already takes the long view on his career.

The 2015 second-round pick is learning to switch-hit, a fact that doesn’t necessarily help his chances of breaking camp at low Class A Hagerstown. But Perkins said that even if he has to stay in extended spring training and wait to play at short-season Auburn in June, the learning process will be worth it.

“I think it’s just where I’ll get to play the most, so that’s where I’ll be,” Perkins said. “As long as the end goal is to make it to the big leagues and help myself stay there longer, I’m all for it.”

The 6-foot-1 Perkins started taking at-bats from the left side in instructional league last fall. He had tried switch-hitting briefly as a freshman at Verrado High in Buckeye, Ariz., but he was counted on as a middle-of-the-order hitter.

As a minor leaguer on the back fields of Florida, though, he had more room to fail.

“I got pretty comfortable at instructs hitting from the left side,” Perkins said. “Then after the winter, I was a little uncomfortable at first, but now it’s going well.

“It’s gone a lot better than I expected.”

Perkins, who signed for $800,000 instead of attending Arizona State, hit .211/.265./.283 in 166 at-bats in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League last summer. Then came the offseason work with hitting coordinator Troy Gingrich.

“Blake’s strong aptitude and body awareness have helped him make strides with getting into position to hit consistently from both sides of the plate,” farm director Mark Scialabba said.

Current Athletics outfielder Billy Burns previously learned to switch-hit when he was in the Nationals system.

“I always (tried switch-hitting) in practice, but never in games,” Perkins said. “When I made it known that I would be willing to try it, that’s something the Nationals really liked.”


• Third baseman Adrian Sanchez helped Colombia upset Panama 2-1 to win a qualifying tournament for a spot in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He hit a game-tying single in the sixth inning of the finale in Panama City. Colombia will participate in its first WBC.

• Righthander Paolo Espino won his one start for Panama with three perfect innings and four strikeouts against France.

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