Transaction of Today…April 26, 2002 – The Atlanta Braves signed Bo Porter as a free agent.
|Keith Allison (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr|
For ten seasons, outfielder Bo Porter kept hope alive that he could not just earn a trip to the majors, but actually stay in the bigs and carve out a career in the most competitive level of baseball. It would eventually happen, of course. All he needed to do was retire. Before that, though, the current Atlanta assistant also spent time in the Braves system under the management of Brian Snitker and Fredi Gonzalez. He would work with both when he returned over a decade later.
We’ll get back to that, but let’s look at the road that brought Porter to Atlanta in 2002. From the get-go, he was a longshot. Selected in the 40th round of the 1993 draft, Porter is one of two players that year to make it to the big leagues out of that round. It was the Chicago Cubs that had taken Porter that season and because it’s the Cubs and it’s not piling on anymore to make fun of them, it’s time to point out that of the 83 players Chicago drafted that year, only eight made it to the major. If you’re curious, Kevin Orie is probably the best of the group, though Brooks Kieschnick is the most interesting.
Porter signed a few months after the ’93 draft, but wouldn’t play until the following season. After a productive 66-game run with Peoria, the Cubs were cautiously hopeful that their late-round pick could become a decent enough prospect. Unfortunately, Porter struggled the next two seasons. He showed some good speed – 57 steals over two years – but struck out a lot for an outfielder not displaying much power. One good thing happened in ’96, though. He upped his OBP by 57 points despite only improving his batting average from .217 to .231. Porter had figured out that it doesn’t matter how you reach base – only that you do.
The next season, 1997, things came together for Porter. He hit .304 that season with a .386 OBP. He also more than doubled his career homerun output with 18 jacks. The Cubs had a legitimate prospect on their hands. He continued to hit the following year and stole a career-high 51 bases. He made it to Triple-A to stay in 1999 and bashed 27 homeruns, a career-high. That season is also notable for Porter because he achieved a dream of getting to the bigs. On May 9th, he K’d against Reds ace reliever Danny Graves in his debut and would spend just four games in the bigs before being shipped back to the minors. There he would stay until getting called back up when rosters expanded that September. As luck would have it, Porter’s first hit came nearly four months to the day of his major league debut. This time, he singled off Graves.
All told, Porter went 5-for-26 with a double, two walks, and 13 K’s. After the season, the Cubs designated Porter for assignment and hoped to keep him moving into 2000. However, the A’s swooped in and picked Porter up in the Rule 5 draft. Though Porter failed to make the A’s squad, Oakland still kept Porter via a trade of some sorts and the now 27 year-old spent most of the season in Sacramento – where he again posted solid, though not spectacular numbers. He also logged 17 games in the bigs after rosters expanded and managed a pair of hits in 15 plate appearances. That includes a two-run bomb off Tampa’s Tony Fiore.
His time with the A’s was short. After being waived in the offseason, Porter took his talents to Texas to join the Rangers. It was in Arlington that he received his longest run in the majors. Over 48 games and 98 PA, Porter slashed .230/.296/.356 with a homer. He made that sole homerun count. It came in the 8th inning against former teammate Mark Mulder and erased a 1-0 deficit to put the Rangers up 3-1. It would be his final homerun in the majors. On August 7, he singled off Detroit’s Matt Perisho to salvage a hitless day. It would be his final hit and final plate appearance of his career. He spent the rest of the season in the minors.
In 2002, Porter joined the Colorado Rockies, but failed to make their roster and was ultimately released after playing in just 14 games at their Triple-A affiliate. That brings us to today in 2002 when the Braves signed the outfielder. He spent two games with Greenville under Brian Snitker before heading to Richmond, where he played 108 games with the Fredi Gonzalez-managed squad. Richmond was anchored by Mike Hessman, Damon Hollins, and young Wilson Betemit that season. Porter settled as Hollins’ primary backup in center while splitting time in the corners. It was a solid year for Porter as he slashed .296/.374/.434 for Richmond.
Porter loved the organization so much that he re-upped with them after the season. The 2003 Braves had a deep outfielder with All-Stars Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, and Gary Sheffield in the mix. The fourth outfielder job seemed pretty sewn up, too, as Darren Bragg had hit .269/.347/.401 with the Braves the previous year. Porter was a regular in left field for Richmond to open the season, but never got going. In mid-July, the Braves cut the 30 year-old after a .240/.309/.382 slash over 300 PA. He would never play again.
Porter would not stay away from baseball, though. Joining the Marlins organization, he began his second career by becoming an A-ball hitting coach in ’05. The following year, he got his first taste of managing and guided the short-season A-ball Jamestown Jammers to a 33-39 record. He headed to the majors in ’07 as a third base coach for the Marlins and their new skipper, Fredi Gonzalez.
After two years under Gonzalez, Porter jumped at an opportunity to join the Arizona Diamondbacks. He spent just one year there and even interviewed to replace Gonzalez after the latter was fired by the Marlins. Porter next joined the Nationals after the Marlins and Pirates passed on him as their next manager.
Following the 2012 season, Porter left the Nats to become the manager of the Houston Astros as the latter moved to the American League. At just 40, Porter was young, energetic and ready to lead a young Astros team that has lost 107 games the previous season. Unfortunately, nothing Porter could do helped the team avoid even more loses – this time, 111. In his defense, of his regular starters, only DH Carlos Pena was over 27. The pitching was atrocious. Only one starter had an ERA under 4.50 and started at least ten games. Porter returned the next year and while the Astros showed improvement with the maturation of Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh, the offense was still searching to find Jose Altuve some help. The Astros would win four of their final six games in August to improve to 59-79. They were even 19-22 since the All-Star Break, a helluva an improvement. However, the Astros were ready to pull the plug and fired Porter on an off-day. His managerial record in the majors stands at 110-190.
A month later, the Braves hired Porter to join Fredi Gonzalez’s coaching staff as a third base coach, along with overseeing the outfield and baserunning aspects of the team. He would remain in that position after Gonzalez was fired and replaced by Snitker. Last offseason, Porter interviewed for the Braves managerial position, but was passed on. He was then moved out of the dugout to be a special assistant to Braves GM John Coppolella.