|Steamers Bring Back Trio from CPL’s Top-Ranked 2012 Team|
EDENTON, NC – The Edenton Steamers of the Coastal Plain League announce today the return of three members from the 2012 squad for this summer. DJ Johnson, Blaise Fernández and Eddie Perkins will once again call Edenton home for the 2013 summer.
Johnson, Fernández and Perkins were integral parts of the Steamers’ record-setting club a summer ago that finished 36-17 and entered the Petitt Cup Playoffs as the number-one seed after clinching both first and second-half East Division titles. It marked the ninth straight year Edenton has played in the postseason. The Steamers also finished atop the league in batting average (.280), runs (302), RBIs (266) and home runs (44).
Now a junior, Johnson, returns to Edenton as a right-handed pitcher and middle infielder from Mercer University (GA) in the NCAA Division I Atlantic Sun Conference. He bats and throws from the right side and is serving as a late-inning reliever and reserve infielder for the Bears this spring. The Adel, Ga. native is 5-10, 185-pounds and was a life force on last summer’s Steamers club. He made 22 appearances and logged 31.2 innings pitched to the tune of a 2.27 ERA with 41 strikeouts and a paltry .193 batting average against. At season’s end he finished third in the CPL in strikeout ratio (11.65 K/9) for hurlers with at least 30 innings pitched. Showing his versatility on the diamond, Johnson also made 25 starts at shortstop and had a .949 fielding average. He provided unsung value as the team’s best defensive shortstop in conjunction with a primary role as a setup man. This year he has the opportunity to evolve into a closer, both at Mercer and in Edenton with increased focus and development as a pitcher. Johnson carries top-notch athleticism onto the mound with how he fields his position, his quick feet on pickoff moves and the ability to repeat his delivery. He features power stuff with an upper 80s to low 90s fastball and an absolutely wicked off-speed pitch that shows two-plane break. Johnson was drafted out of high school by the New York Mets in the 21st round in 2010.
Fernández returns to the Steamers from George Mason University in Virginia, members of the NCAA Division I Colonial Athletic Association. The junior stands at 6-1, 195-pounds and is a middle-of-the-order bat, third baseman and corner outfielder for the Patriots this spring. Fernández bats and throws from the right side and hails from Bernville, Pa. He spent his 2012 summer suiting up for Edenton and had a very productive campaign for the teal and black. Fernández finished with a .279 batting average and a .365 on-base percentage; he slugged .456 and had an OPS of .821 in 42 games. He hit nine doubles, five home runs and notched 18 walks to 25 strikeouts. Fernández is a shining example of what the Steamers look for in a player and he is a prime candidate to move into a leadership role this summer based on his makeup and projected impact on the field. For Edenton in 2012 he was an excellent mid-order producer while providing average or better defense at all four corners on the diamond. He can control the strike zone very well for a hitter with above-average power and that should give him a chance to build on his production from last summer.
Perkins comes back as a redshirt-junior from Tusculum College (TN) in the NCAA Division II South Atlantic Conference. The left-handed pitcher serves as a middle reliever this spring for the Pioneers. At 6-5, 210-pounds, the Chesapeake, Va., native appeared in 14 games for the Steamers, including four starts in 2012. He pitched 21.1 innings and finished with a 3.80 ERA and 16 strikeouts. Perkins is poised to become the fourth player in franchise history, all pitchers, to appear in three different CPL summer campaigns with the Steamers. He would follow left-handed pitcher Weston Curles (Mount Olive College), right-handed pitcher Coleman McKellar (Chattanooga State Technical College/Angelo State -University) and left-handed pitcher Brandon Michon (Brigham Young University). The former transfer from College of the Albemarle is a great piece to have on the pitching staff, being left-handed and highly versatile. Perkins has started, long-relieved and pitched situationally during his Edenton career and projects similar value again in 2013. He could define his role further if a year of competitive development with Tusculum this spring, following a medical redshirt in 2012, results in greater fastball command or a more consistent breaking ball.
The Edenton Steamers are a proud member of the Coastal Plain League, the nation’s hottest summer collegiate baseball league. Celebrating its 17th season in 2013, the CPL features 14 teams playing in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The CPL gives college players the chance to refine their skills with the use of wooden bats. Players are housed with local host families for the summer and past experiences have been very positive for both players and hosts. Furthermore, the CPL has had over 1,000 alumni drafted and 57 alums – including 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander – make their Major League debut thus far. For more information on the Coastal Plain League, please visit the league website at www.coastalplain.com, and be sure to friend us on Facebook (at www.facebook.com/coastalplainleague) and follow us via Twitter (as cplbaseball).