He was supposed to be a can't miss prospect, the kind of athlete who Major League Baseball teams would happily shell out a blockbuster signing bonus on. He committed to play at North Carolina, one of the nation's top collegiate programs, but that has rarely kept pro teams from taking a chance on a player anyway. Yet somehow, Spanish Forks (Utah) High superstar Kayden Porter went completely undrafted, saving him the anguish of having to decide between playing in college or the minor leagues.
Each year a number of top MLB draft picks are forced to choose between a future in the minor leagues or college baseball, a dilemma that puts the prospect of bright financial futures against a key component of an all-American upbringing. For Porter, that prospective choice between collegiate and professional baseball brought with it additional considerations: Porter had decide whether a major-league payday was worth giving up hitting the baseball.
Porter, who starred both on the mound and at the plate in high school, is seen as a legitimate dual threat star in college, whereas most major-league teams were interested in Porter for his pitching acumen. There's good reason for that, with Porter sporting a 9-1 record and a fastball that reaches 97 mph.
As noted by the Salt Lake Tribune, his work at the plate may have been even better, with the senior finishing his final scholastic campaign with a .570 average and a whopping 50 RBIs.
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Heading into the draft, Porter found himself conflicted about his future. The teen who stands an MLB-ready 6-foot-5 and 253 pounds committed to North Carolina, one of the nation's top collegiate programs and a veritable conveyer belt of major-league prospects. At the same time, he was rated as the nation's No. 9 overall prospect in the Class of 2012, an honor which all but ensured that he would be picked early in the draft. That status was backed up by other analysts who graded him as the No. 30 overall prospect in the draft, regardless of scholastic or collegiate status.
As it turns out, the clubs collectively may have made Porter's decision easier by passing over him in the draft. Perhaps scared off by Porter's insistence that he would attend North Carolina if not selected during the event's first 10 rounds, teams decided to stay away from him altogether.
Naturally, that decision raises interesting questions about MLB draft analysis services or, perhaps more likely, the new negotiation processes following the most recent collective bargaining agreement. If teams felt that Porter was definitely unsignable -- or that he was absolutely heading off to play in college -- either of those factors alone might have been enough to discourage them from selecting him.
There may not be a clear answer to precisely what went wrong during the three days of the draft, though Porter was clearly surprised by the lack of major-league interest in him, as one can tell by surveying his quotes leading up to the draft.
"Choosing is really the toughest part of the whole thing," Porter told the Tribune. "Most teams have been talking about pitching. I'm willing to do either one. Teams want the bigger body type on the mound."
Now, Porter will have to put whatever residual disappointment he has over his draft snub and produce at the collegiate level the way so many analysts and scouts anticipated he would in the minor leagues. If he does that, his surprising June MLB rejection may end up being a minor footnote on his career anyway.
"Kayden has two things going for him," said a major league scout who asked not to be identified because he did not want to speak publicly about a prospect. "He has good power, and he has good arm strength. Both are raw at this point, so he's probably better served to go on and play at North Carolina and develop both of those tools."
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