KC Royals: Bubba Starling Promoted To Class AA


The KC Royals promoted prospect Bubba Starling to Class AA Northwest Arkansas. Starling appeared in 12 games for High-A Wilmington this season before his promotion, slashing .386/.471/.614 with two home runs, four doubles and two stolen bases.

Starling should join his new team in Tulsa by Friday, but will not play until Sunday or Monday, according to The Kansas City Star’s Andy McCullough. He’ll join fellow prospects Miguel Almonte, Hunter Dozier, Raul Mondesi, Terrance Gore (plus Brandon Finnegan) on an exciting young roster.

Starling spent 132 games last season in High-A Wilmington but struggled to bat above .200 and struck out 150 times to just 49 walks. The Royals then invited Starling to Spring Training this year, where he went 4-for-16 with one double and one RBI in eight games.  He was selected number five overall in the 2011 MLB Draft, ahead of names like Anthony Rendon, Javier Baez, George Springer, Jose Fernandez and Sonny Gray, so Kansas City Royals fans’ expectations are certainly still high.

The knock on Starling has always stemmed from his hitting – and rightfully so. He consistently posts at or around a 30% K-rate and hasn’t supported it with a any type of solid BB-rate. There are significant concerns with his on-base skills as he moves to the next level. Still, he hit nine homers and stole 17 bases last season, his third season with the club, and he’s an elite athlete at any level in baseball.

He’s still just 22 years old and he’s got a huge upside given his physical tools, but his career 365/137 K/BB ratio is not exactly promising. You love the aggression from a young guy, but the all-or-nothing approach doesn’t project well.

Here is one of Starling’s homers this season for High-A Wilmington, a three-run shot with solid overall swing:

(Source of link: YouTube.com)

Defensively, on the other hand, Starling is ready.  He’s 6′ 4″, 210 pounds and a former All-State athlete in three sports at Gardner Edgerton High School in Gardner, Kansas. It’s well known that Starling signed with the University of Nebraska to play baseball and football before ultimately signing a minor league contract with the KC Royals. He can flat out go get it in the field.

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  • That translates to running the bases, too. Starling is a sterling 51-for-58 in stolen bases in his minor league career. This is a gifted athlete with good instincts.

    Starling follows nicely in the Royals pattern of ultra-athletic outfielders. McCullough wrote an excellent article last August about Starling’s “football mentality” in the field. (Subscription required)

    The hope, of course, is that the hitting aspect clicks with Starling. If that happens, the Kansas City Royals might have a heck of a homegrown centerfielder to run out there in Kauffman Stadium. The Royals invested a lot in Starling and there’s still a lot to like. He’s a clean prospect as far as health, off-the-field and as a competitor. He’s a good guy to bet on, even if it takes a few years for it to pay off.

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