Porter wins Gatorade POY; Lindor presents

June 14th, 2022

Right-handed pitcher Brock Porter has been called many things, like a Clemson recruit, the top pitching prospect in the 2022 Draft class and nearly-certain first-round pick. While he's hoping to add state champion to that list in the coming week, on Tuesday he was surprised to learn he added 2021-22 Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year to his resume, and he was even more taken aback to see who presented him with the award.

Porter thought he was just gathering with his teammates for a meeting. Instead, he was greeted by the Gatorade trophy and a virtual appearance by Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor. For the second year in a row, Lindor played Gatorade ambassador and presented the award to Porter, a 6-foot-4 standout from national powerhouse Orchard Lake St. Mary's High School in Michigan. He gave the award to Dylan Lesko a year ago.

“They put him on Zoom, and I was there with my team,” Porter said. “And we're all just kind of looking, we're like, ‘Hey, that's Lindor. Like that's really him.’ And so then they ended up presenting it to me. I was shocked, I didn't know what was going on, and ended up getting to talk with him a little bit and that was a pretty cool experience to talk with him and just enjoy it.”

St. Mary’s certainly has enjoyed having Porter atop its rotation as it marches towards a state title with a perfect 42-0 record as the state semifinal comes on June 18. The right-hander has gone 8-0 with a 0.271 ERA and 109 strikeouts against 23 walks in 51 2/3 innings. Porter, last year’s Michigan Gatorade Player of the Year, held competition to a ridiculous .056 batting average. A lot of people clearly noticed, including Lindor.

“His stats are off the chain,” Lindor said. “It’s the way he carries himself on the field and off the field as well, because that's also extremely important, for the players to be good [not only] on the field, but also off the field.

It is kind of like the start of a career, I would say. It's such an honor, a privilege to be to be named to that award. I wish I would have won that award.”

Dylan Bundy actually won that honor for 2010-11, one of 27 winners to go on to be first-round picks in the Draft, a number that could swell to 29 with Porter and last year's winner, Lesko, both in this year's class. Gatorade National Players of the Year have gone on to win 4 MVP Awards in the Major Leagues and make 42 combined All-Star appearances.

“It means the world to me,” Porter said. “I think just having my name be honored and just known by that Gatorade trophy ... it's a super prestigious award and I’m just honored.”

Porter now joins a list that features plenty of players from more "traditional” baseball states. Bundy, for example, hails from Texas; Lesko is a Georgia native. It's not lost on the newest recipient that cold-weather states don't often produce winners of these kinds of awards. In fact, the last player to win Gatorade National Player of the Year honors from such a state was when right-hander Rick Porcello won the award in 2007 out of New Jersey.

“I think the Midwest and up north in general, a lot of people look down on it,” Porter said. “But I think there are just as good players up here as there are down in the South, in California and out west and all that. I think we work really, really hard in the offseason, even though we don't have sunny days in the offseason and warm weather to get outside all the time. But I think we work extremely hard up here. And even though people look down at us, we kind of try to prove them wrong all the time.”

Porter and his teammates are still focused on the state playoffs, though attention will turn to the Draft soon enough. While the potential early pick is the marquee name, Porter does feel fortunate to have other teammates sharing in the Draft spotlight, and subsequent pressure, with him. Battery-mate Ike Irish is No. 120 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 200 list currently and overall, this is a nationally top-ranked team that is very deep talent-wise. But if Porter is ever unsure how to handle things, he can always heed this advice from Lindor, who recalled being terrified when he didn’t go No. 2 as he had expected and was forced to wait for what seemed like an eternity to hear his name called at No. 8 overall.

“My mind was like, ‘Oh, this is not good,’” Lindor said about that wait. “However, that's when, right then and there, I understood that it's all about the experience and enjoying the moment, being with the people I love.

“The biggest advice I would tell him is, no matter what pick you go, once you enter the system, you are just a Minor Leaguer. It's amazing, and it feels great to be a first-rounder. It's a huge accomplishment. But once you're in the system, you have to grind just like everybody else.”