Padres Prospect Interview: Robert Perry

Lake Elsinore, CA-- Robert Perry, 22, was taken by the Padres in the 16th round of the 2007 draft out of Long Beach State, one of the many Dirtbags [Paul McAnulty, Neil Jamison, Termell Sledge, Cesar Ramos to name a few] within the Padres organization. When you're a 16th round pick and a college senior your bonus is a plane ticket to Arizona and a chance to show that you belong in pro ball.

Perry took the challenge and the fleet centerfielder was tearing it up in the summer heat of Arizona League, hitting .391/.506/.672 when the organization. Due to a combination of injuries and promotions, Perry was called up to Lake Elsinore, skipping the Northwest and Midwest Leagues. At Lake Elsinore Perry was hitting .259/.326/.432 before being sent down to Fort Wayne with the return of Paul McAnulty and Terrmel Sledge to Portland, which created a domino affect throughout the organization.

This past year at Long Beach State Perry hit .335/.408/.496, and played all three outfield positions during his time at LBSU. After playing center and batting leadoff for most of his career, the Dirtbags asked Perry to move to fifth in the order where he led the team in RBIs and was second in slugging percentage.

You put up some pretty good numbers in the Arizona League and in limited time you've done the same in the Cal League. Isn't this level supposed to be a pretty big jump for and you're supposed to struggle?

Robert Perry: I think playing at Long Beach really helped prepare me for this type of competition. At Long Beach we had one of the toughest schedules in the country, so day in and day out we were playing against good pitching and good hitting. The jump is a pretty big, but if I do the things that have made me successful I should be able to handle it.

So how did the Padres decide to jump you past Eugene and Fort Wayne?

Robert Perry: They had some openings with Huffman and Antonelli being promoted and I was called into the office by my manager in Peoria and he said it's time to cut the chains and see what I could do.

It must be nice to get out of the Arizona Leagues where the games feel like spring training games and play here which is more of a minor league experience in front of some crowds?

Robert Perry: It's definitely better. You have the whole atmosphere with the crowds and the stadium, but it's still the same game and you still have to play the same way and perform.

How tough has the adjustment been to the wood bats?

Robert Perry: During the season we trained with wood bats in college because you have to be more of a perfectionist or you're going to break it or not hit it as well. It kind of comes naturally, just hit the ball on the barrel and it will go.

You make it sound a lot easier than it is [laughing].

Robert Perry: Well, you know guys are throwing a lot better, you know much more movement on the breaking pitches and they locate their fastballs better, but at any level you have to hit the ball.

Can you describe the type of game that you play since you're relatively new to the organization and most of our readers?

Robert Perry: I played all three outfield positions at Long Beach, my junior year as a leadoff/centerfielder and last year my role was more of a run producer, I hit 5th in the order. It kind of got me used to driving in runs and being in the role of a leadoff guy. Long Beach was really a good experience in preparing me for the pro game.

So what is your ideal spot, batting leadoff and playing centerfield?

Robert Perry: Yeah, that is the idea. Wherever they have me I'm going to try to perform my best and help my team to the best of my ability.

I always think that most centerfielders are like point guards in basketball, they can all play other positions in the outfield but they seem the most comfortable when they are in the middle of the field, directing traffic and running down balls. Is that true with you?

Robert Perry: It really is. I've been in centerfield my whole life. This year at Long Beach I had to learn left and right, but center is where I'm the most comfortable. I played a little with Yordany [Ramirez] who covers ground like no one that I have ever seen and I was comfortable in left, it was like having two centerfielders out there.

No offense, you're not the biggest guy in the world but you seem to have some pop in your bat. How do you generate your power? [editor's note, Perry is 5-foot-9, 180-pounds]

Robert Perry: [laughs] You know, I don't know. That has always been a question throughout all my years. I do a lot of core and leg work and try to keep my swing on a level path. I think that is the most important thing, if you have a good swing and you can put that on the ball it will go.

It always seems to me that someone like yourself who is a leadoff hitter getting on-base is a huge part of your game. If you have the ability to get extra base hits doesn't that force the pitcher to be a little more careful when pitching to you and helps you draw more walks?

Robert Perry: That is one thing that I am really trying to work on is to be more patient and wait for my pitch. If that is a factor then I will draw more walks and will help me as a leadoff hitter. If they do come in I can drive the ball and that will help too.

How would you describe the difference between the college pitching and what you are facing now in the Cal League?

Robert Perry: The velocity is better, along with the command. Also the movement of the pitches is very impressive. The first couple games it was like, ‘Wow.' In college you got a lot of four-seamers and an occasional two-seamer. In Arizona anytime you are in a hitter's count you would get a fastball down the middle and those are the ones that you take advantage off. Here you don't always get those pitches, which make it really important when you get your pitch to not miss it.

What do you need to work on the most to realize your dream of playing in the major leagues?

Robert Perry: I need to keep my stolen bases going, I didn't do a lot of that in college, and it wasn't really our style of play. I've always prided myself on my defense and really work hard at it so I think I'm fine there. For me the main thing is to become a good base stealer, get on base, score and produce runs I think I'll get my chances.

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