Thursday, May 4, 2017

PhoulBallz Interview: IronPigs OF Cam Perkins

Cam Perkins, image- Jay Floyd
Outfielder Cam Perkins is having another remarkable season for the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs.  Fresh off an All-Star campaign in the International League last year in which he posted a .292/.329/.419 slash line, the 26-year-old Purdue product is proving to be consistent, as he is batting .303 with seven doubles, a triple, three HR and nine RBI in 23 games.

Perkins, a 6th round draft pick of the Phillies in 2012, spent the off-season playing baseball in the Dominican Republic.  This year in big league spring training, the six-foot-five 195-pound right batter tallied a .355 batting average with three doubles, two homers and six RBI in 14 games.

Last month I talked to Cam about winter ball, his spring training experience, his current IronPigs team and more.  Read ahead for that interview.

-You enjoyed a very successful spring campaign, which may have been a surprise to some, but probably was not a surprise to you.  What was that experience like for you?

It was fun.  The opportunities I got, I felt like I took advantage of it.  Just playing in front of the big club, showing them what I can do and, you know, like you said, it wasn't really a surprise to me.  I know I can play like that.  I think I showed that in winter ball last year.  Yeah, it went well.

-Right, of course- you played winter ball, which ran close to the spring training report date.  Do you feel like that benefited you?

Sure, it was great.  I was definitely a different experience.  It's one of those things I feel like every American baseball player should play once in their career.  See how the international players that come over here, see how it is for them, when you go over there, playing in a different environment.  It was good baseball.  You get to see a lot of pitchers that you haven't seen that you're going to see, so you can kind of figure out what they have.  And just continue to play and I had like three weeks off between the season and spring training, so it kind of just all rolls over without a break, so it definitely keeps it fresh.  

-Some players report to a winter league team early and are done their time by the holidays.  Others, like you, report later and pay into the new year   .  What goes into the decisions for that?

Definitely one big reason is that way it's closer to spring training and it rolls over.  That way you can get ready.  I had family reasons that I needed to take care of- girlfriend, family, dog, all that stuff after the season.  So you go home and rest and get healthy for those two months and I went down there mid-November, right before Thanksgiving and stayed there for two months.  Came home for Christmas.  That's the only time, but yeah I just-- it's just a little easier for me to go second half instead of first half.  

-Your team, the Gigantes, reached the postseason.  What was that atmosphere like?  A lot different?

It was awesome.  It's one of those things where if the lead-off batters gets a walk, the place goes crazy.  Like, it's the top of the 1st and the infield's in and it's just pure "win the game".  Who cares who gets hits?  Who cares...it's literally just win the game.  It's a valuable tool for players to have to just know how to go out there and win a game and not worry about box scores and not worry about this average or I gave up three runs.  Well, that fourth run could have been the biggest run of the game and you didn't give it up.  So it's literally just win the game and that's so much fun.  That's the way I like to play the game for sure.  

-Was there anyone that you played with, or a coach, that you picked up a lot from down there?

I mean, just guys.  (Alec) Asher and Rhys (Hoskins) were on my team.  (Maikel) Franco, played with him a lot.  Nelson Cruz was a big guy.  Just seeing how they go about their business and stuff like that.  Like I said, the biggest take away from winter ball was learning how to play winning baseball.  That's all that matters to them.  They don't care what the exit velocity was or angles or WAR stats.  All that matters is end of the game, did you score more runs that the other team?  And that's the way I approach the game.  I loved it.

-How about in spring training?

There were veteran guys like (Chris) Coghlan, (Daniel) Nava, Howie (Kendrick), (Michael) Saunders.  Just seeing the way they go about their business.  It's not necessarily talking one on one, it's just being around them, in the mornings seeing how they go about getting ready for a game, how they approach the game, things like that.  You definitely pick up on things.  Try to be a sponge in spring training and soak up as much as you can.

-After having statistical success and showing what you can do in big league camp do you have more confidence you will reach that level during the regular season?

Yeah, for sure...
At the end of the day, it's baseball.  Whether you're in GCL, big leagues, Lakewood, Clearwater, it doesn't matter.  It's the same game I've been playing all my life and I feel like I can play it anywhere.  I'm just waiting for the opportunity.  

-What are your feelings on this group of IronPigs this season?

I think last year kind of showed other teams and fans what our upper levels are about.  Reading won so many games and Lehigh won a lot of games and that's pretty much the same players that are here.  So, everyone here knows how to play winning baseball and knows how to go out there and we expect to win.  When we play a game, there's a difference between going out there and hoping and expecting to win..   When we play, we think we're going to beat anyone and that's a good way to approach the game.
That's the way to learn how to play winning baseball and I think that's the most underrated (thing) that baseball players don't know how to do or know how to do.  I think that's going to help the big league club in a couple years for sure.

-On that topic, winning, with guys that have been at the top level, did any Phillies coaches make a big impression on you this spring?

Working with Matt (Stairs) and Pete (Mackanin) and Larry (Bowa) and all those guys, it was great.  They just reiterated what I've been doing.  They just say, "Keep doing what you're doing."  I like to keep it fun.  I like to keep it loose.  I like to keep the game pretty simple.  I'm a big see ball, hit ball guy and they like that.  They said keep doing what you're doing and wait for your opportunity and hopefully one comes around.

-Former Phillie Charlie Hayes is with this IronPigs club for a couple months till the short-season Gulf Coast League gets started.  He's been to the pinnacle Have you been working with him a lot?

We worked with him in spring a lot, just being around the team.  Nothing pretty much mechanically, just teaching the game, knowing how to play the game, what to do in certain situations, which is my favorite part of the game.  I'm not a big elbow up, elbow down, twist-- all that stuff.  It's just literally pretty much baseball IQ, just know how to play the game.  And he's that way too.  And I think just being around him I think that just helps out our ball club staying more loose.
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