KC Royals: Prospect fuels second 2021 farm crown

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

If Logan Porter hasn’t toiled in obscurity, he’s come close. He split his college baseball career between Northwest Oklahoma State and Dixie State, and few noticed when the KC Royals signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2018. He appeared in one game for Double-A Northwest Arkansas that summer, but spent the rest of that campaign and the next in Rookie ball.

He missed last season, of course, but the Royals brought him in for an organizational camp when the big league campaign ended. The move signaled an interest in Porter born of the .314 he hit in 2018 and his .352/.481/.648 line and nine homers and 37 RBIs in 44 games in 2019.

He caught, DH’d, and played first and third for High-A Quad Cities this year; his average dropped to .241, but his 14 homers in 77 games affirmed he’s still a worthy prospect. Just not a well-known one.

Porter, however, became a bigger blip on baseball fans’ radar this weekend, and for that Quad Cities can thank him for a championship.

His heroics began Saturday night in Quad Cities, where the River Bandits faced elimination from their High-A Central Championship Series against Cedar Rapids. Porter was 2-for-8 in the Series when he led off the bottom of the ninth with the game tied 1-1. He took a ball, then hammered reliever Zach Featherstone’s second pitch out to left for a homer that extended the best-of-five test to a final game.

And while what Porter did Sunday night wasn’t as exciting or immediately rewarding, it was enough. After Maikel Garcia walked to lead off Quad Cities’ half of the first inning, moved to second on Cody Laweryson’s wild pitch, and went to third on Nick Loftin’s groundout, and Michael Massey walked, Porter rapped a full-count single to center, scoring Garcia and giving the River Bandits a 1-0 lead.

That early advantage held up—Cedar Rapids never scored, and Quad Cities cruised to a 5-0 win and the High-A Central crown. The River Bandits also won the Central-West regular season title.

The KC Royals will determine Porter’s next step this winter. He’s a good candidate for Northwest Arkansas, which won the Double-A Central Championship Friday night, in 2022 but might start the season back at Quad Cities.

Quad Cities’ pitchers shut down and shut out Cedar Rapids Sunday night.

While Porter’s RBI single was all the scoring the River Bandits required, it wasn’t the only reason they won a championship Sunday. Starter A.J. Block and relievers Zach Haake, Caden Monke, and Nathan Webb limited Cedar Rapids to just two hits (a single in the fourth and a double in the ninth), didn’t allow a run, struck out 15, and retired the side in order four times. Haake got the win.

The KC Royals’ third postseason farm club lost a Sunday slugfest in Omaha.

Playing their fifth game in Triple A’s unique “Final Stretch” Sunday, the Omaha Storm Chasers scored 12 runs—10 in the first five innings—but fell five runs short against Indianapolis. The Indians scored all but one of their 17 runs in the first five frames to win it.

Not surprisingly, Omaha’s MJ Melendez hit two home runs (giving him 41 between the Chasers and Northwest Arkansas), and Nick Pratto hit another, giving him 19 with Omaha to go with the 15 he hit with the Naturals.

The Storm Chasers are now 3-2 in the 10-game Stretch, leaving them two games behind 5-0 Durham and Nashville. They face Iowa on the road Wednesday afternoon.

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Quad Cities gave the Kansas City organization its second postseason title of the year Sunday. Northwest Arkansas won its championship Friday, and Omaha is still in the hunt for a Triple-A crown.