As we continue our look at the upcoming Major League Baseball Amateur Draft that begins on June 6th, I want to take a look at what would be the best story for the Royals.
Bubba Starling – OF/RHP – Gardner, Kansas – Gardner-Edgerton High School – 6’5″ 200 lbs
According to Google Maps, it is 36.8 miles from Gardner-Edgerton High School to the dugout at Kauffman Stadium. Almost close enough to hear the fireworks after a Friday night home game. While scouts flock and team executives up to the likes of Red Sox GM Theo Epstein fly in on their private jets, the Royals are able to drive there in under an hour. They can go watch him whenever they want (and do), which would be a huge advantage if Mr. Starling was under the radar.
However, being the High School legend that he is, that phrase hasn’t applied to him in a long, long time.
In their most recent rankings, both ESPN and Baseball America list him as a top 10 prospect. He has been ranked the best High School Baseball Player in the country. He draws comparisons to Dale Murphy and Josh Hamilton (but faster). He is one of the best hitters in the draft and can also hurl a 94 MPH fastball.
He is flashing in bold red letters on everybody’s radar.
All of the talk from Bubba and his family is that he’s excited and ready to go to Lincoln in a couple of months and battle for a starting job. Nebraska fans (including me) are tentatively euphoric about Bubba. They feel like they won the lottery in having Bubba committed to play football. However, they all understand that being a top ten draft pick would make him an instant millionaire – and if they had to make the choice between wearing red on Saturdays and seeing green today, they’d politely take off their Cornhead and ask where to sign.
This was the right thing to do for a level headed kid like Bubba. Focus on his collegiate future, and find his ideal situation where he could play both football and baseball. With that locked down, he can wait and see what happens on June 6th. If the right team drafts him and offers him the right amount of money, he’ll likely shelf his scholarship to NU and head to the minors. If things don’t work out in the draft, then he’ll go to Nebraska, play two sports and see what happens.
Skeptics think that Bubba might be over-playing the football angle to drive up his baseball value.
Besides football, there is another potential catch. Prepare your stomachs Royals fans…his “Baseball Advisor” is Scott Boras. You might be thinking what I’m thinking – “baseball advisor”? What does that even mean? Basically, he’s giving Bubba advice about what he should do given his future in baseball without communicating with any MLB teams (allegedly), therefore protecting the player’s amateur status.
Predictably, the issue I have with this is that Scott Boras has corrupted the minds of so many young men in Starling’s position. He’s famous for taking highly touted, hyped, projected superstars who have yet so see one professional at-bat, and “advises” them to hold out for more money. Once able to talk to teams interested in Starling, he will surely tell them that they can’t afford him. Boras will angle towards sending Bubba to a team who will fork out a jillion dollars for a shot at playing under the bright lights in a big city. This could be the Cubs, who pick 9th, the Mets, who pick 13th, or the Red Sox, who pick 19th.
In a perfect world, Bubba stays home and signs with the Royals. I think that if he’s still on the board at #5, the Royals will take him. Though a bit of a risky pick with the football thing and the Boras thing, he’s talented enough to be worth the risk. Plus, he’s got a few connections with the team including playing for a travelling team coached by former Royals Catcher Mike Macfarlane. Macfarlane co-owns the “Mac and Seitz” baseball academy with Royals Hitting Coach Kevin Seitzer…
Bubba was recently at Kauffman Stadium. He says he signed 13 autographs for fans. “I was just in a polo and some khakis, and people recognized me.”
According to his parents, they’re not going to get wrapped up in the money and want their son to do what’s best for his future. His mom says, “I’d put the hurts to him if that ever happened. That’s not going to happen in our family.” They acknowledge that going to college would do great things for his maturity and would allow their son to stay a kid for just a little bit longer.
This will be one of the most interesting storylines for anyone in the Kansas City area to pay attention to over the next few weeks.
Compares to: Wil MyersThough it seems difficult to compare anyone to the type of upside that Bubba Starling seems to have right now, Wil Myers might be the closest. Myers was a 3rd round pick by the Royals back in 2009 as a High School catcher from North Carolina. As a senior, he batted .532 with 14 HR and 41 RBI. He was listed as the second best hitter among High School players going into the draft that year. At 6’3 205 lbs, he’s got comparable size to Starling, and is expected to be a big bat in a future Royals lineup. Currently, Myers is playing outfield at AA Northwest Arkansas and is hitting .284 with 2 HR through 20 games. He’s still adjusting to his first year as an outfielder, but he is thought of to be a part of that “second wave” of talent in the Royals farm system. Going into the season, he was ranked as the 16th best minor league prospect by MLB.com.