One of the more interesting Rule-5 eligible players in the Royals organization may be Logan Porter, a first base and catching prospect who has been with the Royals since 2018.
Porter is an interesting human interest story in the Royals organization simply due to the fact that he went undrafted out of Dixie State in Utah, and has matriculated all the way to Triple-A. After a hot start in Double-A Northwest Arkansas in 2022, Alec Lewis, the Royals’ former beat writer at the Athletic, penned an incredible piece that chronicled Porter’s unlikely baseball journey.
Last season, Porter put up an impressive campaign over 112 games between Northwest Arkansas and Omaha.
In 473 plate appearances, Porter slashed .301/.442/.476 which included a .918 OPS, 13 home runs, and 62 RBI. According to Fangraphs, he put up a 143 wRC+ and BB/K ratio of 0.83 with the Naturals and a 151 wRC+ and a 0.91 BB/K ratio with the Storm Chasers.
Even though Porter was 26 years old a season ago (and is currently 27 years old), the Arizona native showed that his mature plate approach had a place in the Royals’ organization. He also made the Royals’ Spring Training roster in Surprise a season ago, and it’s likely that he will again get an invite to Spring camp again, whether or not he is added to Kansas City’s 40-man roster this winter.
While the numbers and story are impressive, one still has to beg the question in regard to his long-term outlook:
Does Porter have a chance to be a contributor at the Major League level? Or is he simply a Quad-A player in the mold of Ryan O’Hearn?
If Royals fans check out any major prospect rankings, Porter is pretty much “unranked”, which makes him in the eyes of prospect analysts a “non-prospect.”
What does that mean?
Well, it means that he’s pretty much around for organizational depth. He’s a guy who can contribute and be filled in the lineup or rotation or bullpen of a Minor League team, but is unlikely to get much of an opportunity at the Major League level, due to a perceived lack of tools. These kinds of players typically receive little interest via trades or even the Rule 5 Draft, as it is unlikely that a player with this tag will last an entire season on the active roster with an MLB team (if they do not, they get returned to their previous organization.).
Guys like Freddy Fermin, Gabriel Cancel, and Marcelo Martinez are examples of such players. They will be important to a Double-A or Triple-A squad, but it is unlikely that they will have much if any, kind of impact on the big league roster.
And yet, Porter continues to get better as he progresses through the Royals system.
He didn’t hit for great average in 2021 with the Quad Cities River Bandits (.241). His other stats though look a lot more impressive, including OBP (.368), slugging, (.451), and his home run numbers (14 home runs). In addition, Porter was a huge contributor to the River Bandits’ offense down the stretch as they stayed in the hunt in the High-A Central (now Midwest League) championship race.
While Porter doesn’t really wow any scout or baseball fans with his athleticism, he has a remarkably powerful swing, which he displayed on frequent occasions last season.
Sure, he still was under the 20+ home run mark, which is concerning considering the home-run friendly park factors of the Texas and International League. Nonetheless, when Royals fans look at his home run swings, it’s obvious that Drew Saylor and the Royals hitting development team are fully tapping into Porter’s potential at the upper Minor League level.
Here’s a blast from a Double-A game in late July last season against the Wichita Wind Surge.
A couple of weeks later after being promoted to Triple-A Omaha, Porter continued to show off his impressive power stroke, as he launched a three-run home run that tied the game in the bottom of the ninth against the Toledo Mud Hens (it was also his first Triple-A home run).
On a hitting end, there’s no question that Porter has proved that he can hit enough to be at least a slightly above replacement-level player.
Defense though is a different story.
Porter played multiple positions last year in Northwest Arkansas and Omaha. That included catcher (36 games), first base (53 games), third base (seven games), and designated hitter (15 games). As a catcher, Porter does not make a lot of errors, as he had a .997 fielding percentage and only allowed two passed balls in Northwest Arkansas a year ago (he didn’t play any catcher in Omaha). However, he only threw out 24 percent of runners last year, and he only threw out 19 percent of runners in Quad Cities in 2021.
It is hard to see Porter staying behind the plate at the big league level, especially considering Salvy, MJ Melendez, and Sebastian Rivero (all on the 40-man roster) rate more highly defensively than Porter.
To make matters worse, I am not sure if Porter has enough power to stick at a corner infield spot, especially with the Royals flush at the first base position in their system with Vinnie Pasquantino, Nick Pratto, Hunter Dozier, and Ryan O’Hearn on the 40-man roster. Porter didn’t make any errors at third base in Northwest Arkansas a year ago, and the Royals are lacking options at the hot corner in the upper levels of their system. That being said, it’s hard to gauge how much potential Porter does have after playing only 56.2 innings at the third base position in his Minor League career.
Porter’s bat certainly may be able to help him stick at the Major League level.
It’s his glove and defensive versatility that could be the main issues next Spring, and it’s hard to imagine that getting any better at his age.
Even though it’s hard to properly gauge Porter’s outlook at the Major League level, as a Royals fan, it is certainly easy to root for him, especially after reading Jared Perkins’ piece on Porter from Prospects Live last August:
Not only was Porter undrafted, but he also started off as a college walk-on. At nearly every level of baseball, Porter has had to prove people wrong, and he has done this with a solid attitude and an ability to take advantage of every opportunity given.
Here’s a snippet from Porter’s piece that illustrates those two characteristics back from his days in college at Dixie State:
As most know, being a walk-on at the college level can be highly challenging. For Porter, Dixie State’s philosophy seemed perfect, as Coach Pfatenhauer emphasized giving everyone an equal shot. “In our program we’ve never really paid attention to the scholarship guy or walk on,” Coach Pfatenhauer said. “Once they are in our program, the best guys play, regardless. [Porter] was flexible and willing to play anywhere and due to injuries and a lack of production at first base, there was an opportunity, and he took it and ran with it.”
Porter used the opportunity to help him develop on and off the field. “The program at Dixie was run just like a professional team,” Porter said. “We had great competition day in and day out and Coach Pfatenhauer knew how to bring the best out of every guy.”
He kept grinding and showed up with an attitude that he was ready to play every day. “Logan had a great attitude and really never had to say a word to get a response from teammates, he was a silent leader,” Pfatenhauer said. “You never had to get on him or ask for more because you knew he was doing his work and everything he needed to do to be successful.” That attitude would get Porter a shot in the pros.“UNDRAFTED TO LIVING OUT HIS DREAM: HOW LOGAN PORTER FOUND SUCCESS IN THE PROS” by Jared Perkins; Prospects Live
Even if Porter is not added to the 40-man roster, it is unlikely that he will get selected in the Rule 5 Draft. He simply doesn’t have those eye-popping tools or that high draft stock that would make an MLB front office executive utilize a pick on him.
But Porter is a Royals Minor League success story.
And let’s hope that Porter can make some teams pay for not drafting him in the Rule-5 Draft with not just another solid Triple-A campaign, but perhaps an MLB debut with the Royals as well in 2023.
Photo Credit: David McLelland / High-A Quad Cities