So the ruckus is over. After four pitchers came off the board and Anthony Rendon slipped through, the Royals had options in place.
And assuming you’ve read Ryan Wood’s live blog of the first round of selections, you know that the Royals took Derek “Bubba” Starling from Gardner, Kansas.
With a strong top six among most draft rankings, the Royals were assured to have someone of quality available with their fifth overall selection. There was concern that they might do something a bit too creative, but instead they went with the best player on the board. And Bubba was the best player on the board.
The trick now is working out a bonus. Starling, as you should know, is committed to Nebraska to play quarterback and outfield. It’s a great opportunity, and for an athlete of Starling’s caliber, it has to be appealing to play for a team he grew up watching. But there are obvious financial considerations that favor the Royals getting their pick. First, Nebraska can’t pay Starling beyond providing him a scholarship (assuming they’re playing by the rules). Second, the Royals can.
And they can pay a lot.
As a multi-sport player with a college commitment in a non-baseball sport, the Royals can spread his signing bonus out over a five year period. If it takes a lot to sign him, they can do it. They have room on the books to fit in a big bonus too. While playing quarterback would be great, getting hurt on a bootleg isn’t. If he gets hurt in his two (hypothetical) years at Nebraska before his next opportunity to enter the draft, he might get nothing or a sharp drop in his bonus figure.
Granted, he’ll wait until the last minute to sign, but he’ll sign. He has incredible upside and could be one of those fabled “five tool” players. That puts him somewhere around the top five among Royals prospects the second he signs.
If you’re a big minor league fan – of the Royals or in general – you have to check out Seedlings to Stars, the newest addition to the FanSided network. They cover the minors and draft info exclusively. Conveniently, they’re going down the first round draft picks and providing commentary.
Our own Wally Fish wrote Bubba’s entry. He’s very happy. I believe he threw an “in your face” to me when the pick was announced. He’s very happy.
Chris Wisten suggests taking Bubba is making up for passing on Albert Pujols years ago, another talent the Royals could find in their own backyard. (Though I hate that argument. The Cardinals passed on Pujols for 12 rounds. EVERYONE missed on Albert. They took 401 players before him, even.)
And how about my local paper talking about Bubba – the Lawrence Journal World.
Consider a 2015 outfield of Wil Myers, Bubba Starling and perhaps Lorenzo Cain or Brett Eibner. Stacked around Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and others, that sounds like a fun team to watch to me.