The KC Royals stand to lose a few players when, after a one-year absence occasioned by the MLB lockout, the Rule 5 Draft returns Dec. 7, giving teams with open space on their 40-man rosters the chance to pluck prospects from other clubs.
Leaving players exposed to the Rule 5 is the inevitable consequence of organizations having more promising minor leaguers than their 40-man rosters can absorb, and also of the hard truth that even some of the best minor league players might not have everything it takes to reach the majors.
Because teams don’t always plug open 40-man spots via Rule 5 selections, most players left exposed by the Royals will survive the draft and return to the organization next season. Whether Logan Porter, a versatile minor leaguer with whom many KC fans are familiar but others are not, remains with the club will be known by the time the draft concludes.
His fate may be uncertain, but Porter is someone the Royals shouldn’t want to lose.
KC Royals prospect Logan Porter is definitely a player worth keeping.
Don’t doubt Porter’s bona fides as a good professional player. Passed over by all 30 clubs in the 2018 amateur draft, he signed a free agent deal with Kansas City, then played 34 games in Rookie ball and one at Double-A Northwest Arkansas that summer with good results—he slashed an attention-getting .314/.444/.471.
Porter was even better in 2019. Playing for KC’s Burlington Rookie club, he hit nine homers, drove in 37 runs, and slashed .352/.481/.648 with a 1.129 OPS in 44 games.
The pandemic’s elimination of the 2020 minor league season didn’t stop Porter from advancing—he moved up in 2021 to High-A Quad Cities where, catching most of the time, he clubbed 14 homers and, despite his average plummeting to .241, maintained his proven ability to get on base by posting a .368 OBP, a critical accomplishment boosted by a good 14.2 BB%.
And, as we wrote then, Porter was instrumental in the River Bandits’ drive to the High-A Central Championship. His ninth-inning, game-winning home run against Cedar Rapids forced a winner-take-all series finale, and he singled in the Bandits’ first run—the only one they’d need—in the club’s 5-0 championship-clinching win.
Porter’s successful climb through the KC organization continued in 2022. After snaring a non-roster invitation to major league spring training and going 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs in four Cactus League contests, he began the regular season at Double-A Northwest Arkansas and, after homering 10 times and hitting .301 with a .437 OBP, earned an August promotion to Triple-A Omaha. He matched the .301 he hit at Northwest Arkansas, added three homers, and finished his two-level campaign with a .301/.442/.476 line.
His performance earned him the first base spot on MiLB.com’s KC 2022 Organization All-Stars.
So, why didn’t Kansas City protect Porter, who can catch, play first and third, and DH—by adding him to its 40-man roster earlier this month?
Considering their needs in the outfield and on the mound, that the Royals chose to protect outfielder Diego Hernández and pitcher Alec Marsh isn’t surprising, and Porter isn’t an outfielder (at least not yet) or a pitcher.
But they also added Freddy Fermin, who’s caught in the KC system since 2016 and played for the Royals three times last season when the club temporarily replaced 10 players whose vaccination status prohibited them from playing in Toronto. Perhaps Kansas City, a team known to carry three catchers, considers Fermin a better choice than Porter to back up Salvador Perez, and MJ Melendez if he continues to catch occasionally next year.
What Porter has displayed that Fermin hasn’t, though, is defensive versatility; although Fermin may have it, the KC system hasn’t utilized it. Porter, on the other hand, has split time between catching and first base since his first professional season and, although some may tend to think of him as a catcher only, he’s actually played first more times (125) than he’s caught (82). (He’s also dabbled at third base).
What might Porter, who probably won’t supplant Vinnie Pasquantino at first, and won’t get past Perez behind the plate, do for Kansas City at the big league level?
Easy. The Royals could give him a shot at a bench role if they can’t find him an everyday spot. He isn’t a lefthanded bench bat like Ryan O’Hearn, but he has the proven potential to be better offensively and defensively than O’Hearn, who somehow remains on the roster.
Porter has done more than enough in the minors to deserve a chance.
And who knows? He might work himself into a regular role on a club destined to make several changes in the next season or two.
But by leaving him unprotected, the Royals could find Porter drafted away Dec. 7. If that happens, their loss will be another club’s gain.
Will Logan Porter remain a Royal? We’ll find out soon.