Perry is now with his third organization after coming over to the Tigers in exchange for third baseman Jack Hannahan this summer. As the Tigers continue to look for additional offensive weapons, Perry could potentially provide left-handed power to a team bereft of such a skill. Originally a sixth-round draft choice by the Toronto Blue Jays out of Georgia Tech, he was dealt to the Oakland Athletics to complete the deal for John-Ford Griffin.
Prior to joining the pro ranks, Perry was a standout high school shortstop at Jonesboro High in Georgia, leading his team to the Region 4-AAA Playoffs as a senior. As a junior, Jason slugged his way (.493 average, 11 home runs, 1.147 slugging) to a runner-up slot in the balloting for AAA State Player of the Year.
As a freshman for the Ramblin' Wreck, Perry became a fixture against right-handers as he posted a .291/.419/.477 line in 45 games to start his collegiate career. He built on that performance as a sophomore, becoming the team's primary first baseman, posting a .337/.449/.620 line with 14 home runs and 57 RBI. After an All-Star summer on the Cape in 2001, Perry returned to campus and also returned to his slugging ways. As a junior he hit .325/.413/.557 with 17 doubles and 12 home runs, while splitting his time between first base and right field.
Perry's professional career got off to a rousing start, as he posted a .384 average and .689 slugging percentage through 43 games split between the Rookie-level Pioneer League and High-A Florida State League. Returning to High-A in 2003, Jason stumbled at the plate, mustering only a .288/.346/.390 line between the FSL and California Leagues. Oakland opted to return him to the Cal League in 2004, and he responded by crushing 44 two-base hits, 25 bombs, and a .310/.401/.613 line in 111 games. Through 28 games at AA in 2006 – where he spend the entire 2005 season, Perry was posting an incredible .402/.476/.626 line for Midland, and was promptly promoted to AAA-Sacramento for the remainder of the season. His offense slowed after the promotion, but he bounced back in 2007 to post 16 doubles and 18 home runs in 78 games for Sacramento before his trade to Detroit.
Jason has the ability to be a plus defender at both first base and in the outfield, and his arm strength lends well to spending time in right field. He has good actions on the infield and his hands are reasonably soft. He does struggle receiving some throws from across the diamond, but generally does a good job around the bag. In the outfield, he is an average runner with good reactions to balls off the bat. His throws can lack accuracy at times.
Offensively, Perry has big time power and a solid understanding of the strike zone. He strikes out quite a bit, but works deep counts with regularity, and often gets a pitch he can drive. He generates very good bat speed with a smooth left-handed stroke, and has easy power to all fields. He can get pull-happy at times, but he has succeeded in maintaining a more polished approach; spraying balls to all fields with authority. He struggles immensely with left-handers and would benefit from working in a platoon role where he can focus on mashing right-handed offerings.
Perry has the offensive ability to hit 25-30 home runs annually at the Major League level, while also slugging 30-plus doubles with ease. He will never hit for a high average, but he should be able to get on base at very good rates while providing solid lefty power from the sixth or seventh spot in a Major League lineup. At 27-years old, Jason will need to get a shot at the big leagues soon if he is to make any sort of substantial career out of his abilities.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% AAA
Jason has been generally healthy the last few seasons, and his work ethic has improved over the course of his professional career. I don't see him as someone who would handle playing 150 games annually, but he should be a good guy to have around for 100 games or so.
Perry is eligible for the Rule 5 draft this winter, but given his relatively modest success at AAA this past season, he is unlikely to be selected and carried on a big league roster. It would be safe to assume that he will head to spring training as a non-roster invitee with Detroit, and will have an outside shot at earning a reserve role with the big club. Given his past platoon splits at the minor league level, the Tigers could benefit from exploring the idea of working with a Jason Perry/Marcus Thames platoon in left-field until one of the youngsters from the farm is ready. Expect to see Perry in Detroit at some point in 2008, though there would have to be significant injuries for him to move into the everyday lineup.
Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.