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Not a Rookie: Glen Perkins

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Glen Perkins is a Minnesota guy, born in St. Paul. He went to the University of Minnesota, and earned a spot in the first round of the 2004 draft, 22nd overall. Other teams saw him as a late first-rounder as well, so this wasn't a nepotism pick by the Twins,although the local connection certainly didn't hurt. He posted a 1.49 ERA with a 71/16 K/BB in his first 60 pro innings, showing that his 90 MPH fastball, curveball, and changeup were effective against pro hitters. He wasn't physically projectable, but was considered polished. I gave him a Grade B+ in the 2005 book.

Perkins began 2005 in the Florida State League and was terrific, with a 2.13 ERA and a 66/13 K/BB in 55 innings. Promoted to Double-A at mid-season, he struggled with a 4.90 ERA and a 67/35 K/BB in 79 innings, 80 hits allowed, as more advanced hitters were less likely to chase. He got into a "nibbling" habit and was too defensive according to scouts. I gave him a Grade C+ in the 2006 book, but wrote that I thought he had a good chance to rebound.

Perkins made 23 starts for New Britain in 2006, going 4-11 but with a 3.91 ERA and above average K/BB and K/IP ratios, 131/45 in 117 innings. He made his major league debut with 5.2 innings of relif work, allowing one run with six strikeouts and no walks allowed. He avoided the nibbling problems of 2005 and in general appeared much more confident. I gave him a Grade B and wrote that, while he might need some Triple-A time, I was optimistic about his chances to be an effective starter, "granted all the usual injury caveats."

The injury bug struck in 2007. He did most of his pitching out of the Twins bullpen, with 28.2 innings of relief work, and he did well with a 3.14 ERA and a 20/12 K/BB with 23 hits allowed. But he spent much of the summer sidelined with a sore shoulder, resulting in rehab stops at four levels. I wrote in the 2008 book that Perkins was a Grade B on skill, but due to the uncertainy about his health I reduced his rating to B-.

Perkins was something of a forgotten man heading into spring training. When people talked about Twins pitching, they would mention just about everyone else and then tack on a "Oh, Yeah, Glen Perkins is around too," but no one seemed to know where he'd fit, if he would start or relieve or be in the minors.

He didn't make the major league roster out of spring training and began at Rochester, where he posted a 2.97 ERA in six starts with a 27/19 K/BB in 33 innings. He got promoted in May, and I was a little worried given the higher-than-nornal walk rate he posted in Rochester. However, he's been quite effective for the Twins, going 11-3, 3.90.

Can he sustain this? HIs components aren't as promising as the ERA: in 124.2 innings, he's given up 142 hits with a 60/31 K/BB and 16 homers. His walk rate has been nicely low, but the strikeout rate is unimpressive and he's been very hittable. Based on his components, his ERA should be a lot closer to 4.50 than 3.90. He's been lucky, and for 2009 I would expect regression towards the mean.

Perkins struck out a lot more guys in the minors than he has in the majors, and there seems a reasonable chance he can get some of that back. I still see him as a guy who can be a good 4th starter, but don't be tricked by the ERA or the gaudy W/L record into thinking he's an ace-in-making.