At first glance there is no doubting that David Chester and Kendrick Perkins of the Lowell Spinners have some sort of football background.
They are solid masses, sturdy and packed full of the strength and power that belongs on the gridiron.
Chester, a 6’5”, 270 pound first baseman, hails from Collinsville, Oklahoma and could pass as an offense lineman, a position he stared at for his hometown high school.
Perkins, a right fielder, clocks in at 6’2”, 225 pounds; the perfect package of raw skill and speed that helped him excel as a running back at LaPorte High School in Texas, where he racked up over 1,700 yards and 27 touchdowns during his senior season.
Chester also played tight end in high school was set to play that position for Arkansas State following his senior season in Collinsville. Perkins had a deal in place to continue carrying the pigskin at Texas A&M.
However, despite their size, love of the game, and geographical football upbringings, both were baseball players first and foremost.
“I had signed to play baseball but we had a deal that I was going to have a walk-on scholarship for football,” said Perkins on his commitment to A&M. “That was my plan, until this happened.”
“I heard a couple of things about the draft and they told me I should probably stick with baseball,” said Chester on his decision to pass on Arkansas State. “Two weeks before football practice started I told them I wasn’t coming and went to a junior college instead. Ever since then it’s been all baseball.”
Chester enrolled at Seminole Community College in Oklahoma and after two years he transferred to Pitt where he increased his exposure, led the Big East with 15 home runs his junior year, and was a 33rd round selection by the Red Sox in the 2011 draft.
Perkins decision was made when the Sox got him in the sixth round of the 2010 draft and soon after he would report to Fort Myers, playing three games with the Gulf Coast Red Sox at the age of 18.
“It wasn’t tough at all, to be honest,” said Perkins about his decision to turn pro. “The whole draft process was the most stressful thing, if anything, because you don’t know who’s going to get you or how much you’re going to get.”
When Chester reported to the Red Sox facilities in Fort Myers in 2011, the two hit it off by ribbing each other on the Red River Shootout and all things football related that has shaped the natural rivalry between their two home states.
“We knew each other last year and we always gave each other a hard time on the teams and how they are playing,” said Chester. “It’s a good rivalry and it kind of puts us two together because it’s something we both grew up watching and both grew up wanting to do. It’s a lot of fun, that’s for sure.”
Perkins was quick to echo Chester’s sentiment, stating, “It brought us a lot closer together when we first met. It’s a big thing down there and me and Chester are always going back and forth. It makes everything fun.”
The two would find themselves together even moreso cnce the lineups started to come out, creating a lefty-righty power core with Perkins in the three slot and Chester batting cleanup.
In scouting reports, SoxProspects.com states that Perkins carries “plus power potential” and that Chester has a “massive hitters frame with high power potential.”
During their 2011 campaign in the Gulf Coast League, Chester slugged a team-high nine home runs hitting behind Perkins, who belted three of his own. The reports were starting to come to fruition.
They have carried their relationship and long-ball success on to the next level, maintaining similar roles in the lineup for the Short-Season Class-A Lowell Spinners.
In 29 games this season Chester once again leads his team in home runs with six, as well as runs batted in with 18. Perkins is right behind him with four home runs and he leads the team with 22 runs scored and 30 games played.
The majority of their long balls have been moon shots that put them in the category of “must watch” players when they step to the plate.
When batting back-to-back in the lineup there is a definite football flavor, with the lineman-sized Chester protecting the running-back Perkins in the order, forcing pitchers to make a decision.
“I really never thought about that, but it can be very true,” said Perkins on the protection he gets hitting in front of Chester. “One thing that I always keep in mind, that if I get on base Chester’s swing can be two runs real quick. They’ve got to pitch to one of us and you don’t want to make that mistake.”
Of course both of these players are still learning the game on the professional level, and will need to practice patience at the plate while cutting down on strikeouts.
Perkins has a league-high 44 whiffs and Chester has K’d 29 times thus far while combined the two have walked 29 times. It’s something that comes with the territory for a power hitter, but is also something that both players should be able to improve on.
As of late Perkins, who has not gone yard since July 1st, has been shuffled around the lineup while he works out some kinks. But rest assured that the bond between these two will not be broken in the face of some lineup changes.
“It’s just like a brother relationship really,” said Perkins. “He’s the big brother, I’m the little brother. I learn from him, he learns from me and we just take what we can from each other and use it to our advantage.”
You can contact Craig Forde by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BeyondFenway.
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