The KC Royals have a catching dilemma on their hands

Logan Porter presents a quandary.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

KC Royals fans interested only casually in the club's farm system may not have known much, if anything, about Logan Porter before the 2021 season was all but over. Then catching at High-A Quad Cities, Porter was a decent hitter after batting .352 in rookie ball in 2019, and .317 in rookie ball in 2018. But he wasn't capturing much media attention.

That changed, though, when Porter, upon whom the Royals took a flier after no one called his name in the 2018 amateur draft, grabbed headlines during the 2021 High-A Central Championship by helping fuel Quad Cities' run to a title. He saved the River Bandits from elimination by slamming a walk-off homer in Game Four, then turned right around the next night and drove in the only run of the finale to hand Quad Cities the championship over Cedar Rapids.

Those two games put Porter's name out front, and it's been there, albeit off and on, ever since. Bumped up to Double-A to begin the 2022 season, he earned a promotion to Triple-A Omaha by clubbing 10 homers, driving in 45 runs, and slashing .301/.437/.486 for Northwest Arkansas. And Triple-A pitching didn't slow Porter down: in 35 games for the Storm Chasers, he slashed .301/.452/.451.

The Royals invited Porter to spring training last season, but his 18-game .348 average and .444 OBP didn't convince the club to make him, and not Freddy Fermin, Salvador Perez's backup. Porter headed back to Omaha, but received a mid-September call-up to the majors. His KC numbers weren't good — he managed only six hits in 31 at-bats and threw out only one of the eight runners who tested his arm.

After the season ended, in what bore all the earmarks of a roster space-creating move for Rule 5 Draft purposes, Kansas City DFA'd him only to re-sign him a few days later. He was back in the Royals' spring camp this year, but again began the regular season at Omaha.

And it's there that Porter is once again in the news ... and making himself a Royal dilemma.

KC Royals prospect Logan Porter is on fire at Omaha

If his performance is any indication, Porter isn't dwelling on the disappointment of not making Kansas City's Opening Day roster. Instead, he's making the most of his Triple-A return; take Thursday night, for example.

Porter certainly didn't beat Gwinnett, Atlanta's Triple-A affiliate, by himself — held scorelsss for the first three innings, the Storm Chasers scored in every subsequent frame and won 18-9. But it was Porter who triggered the five-frame scoring onslaught with a two-run homer in the fourth, and he added two doubles and another RBI before the night was over.

That 3-for-4 performance boosted his line to .393/.452/.893; only twice in eight games has he not hit safely, and he's 8-for-18 in his last four appearances.

So, what's the Porter-created dilemma?

Simple. The Royals ought to do something with Porter; there are pros and cons to bringing him back to Kansas City, and pros and cons to leaving him at Omaha.

Should the Royals make room for Logan Porter on their big league roster?

Perhaps, but now isn't the time. Porter can hit and has some defensive versatility, but the Royals are on a roll and probably aren't prone to fix what isn't broken. They're also getting along quite well with Perez and Fermin, and could get by with MJ Melendez behind the plate if injuries struck Perez and Fermin in the same game, but only until reinforcements could arrive.

Is Omaha the venue for Logan Porter?

With the Storm Chasers seems to be the right place for Porter to be. With no vacancy in KC for him to fill, he can play regularly for Omaha manager Mike Jirschele, he's the best backstop on Omaha's active roster, he provides stability, a good bat, and experience, and he's just up the road if the Royals need him. And the Chasers will get an experienced major league catcher back when Austin Nola returns from the Injured List.

But is rostering Porter in Omaha really the correct approach? His path to the Royals is narrow: Perez isn't going anywhere, the Royals appear to be grooming Fermin as his eventual successor, and the club isn't likely to carry three full-time catchers any time soon, especially with Melendez available in an emergency.

All that leaves one other option. Porter's short September stint with the Royals wasn't flashy, but the sample size it provided is simply too small to use as the basis of writing him off as the quintessential "AAAA" player.

Porter has value. If there's no room in Kansas City, perhaps it's time for the Royals to shop him around. He could net a nice return, and land on a club that needs him in The Show.

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