The fifth overall pick in the 2011 draft, Bubba Starling, signed a deal with the Royals, going down to the last moment of the signing deadline before the decision was announced.
Starling (as you may know by now) had a commitment to Nebraska for football and baseball, but chose professional baseball over Big Ten football.
He signed for a Royals record $7.5 million (according to Keith Law), eclipsing Eric Hosmer‘s $6 million in 2008. Jim Callis of Baseball America adds that it’s spread over three years (since he has a college scholarship from Nebraska for football, the Royals can split his bonus over up to five years).
In speaking about the signing at the official press conference, Dayton Moore stressed the importance of getting talent from “your own backyard” (Starling lives in Gardner, Kansas), and reiterated the special athletic ability that allowed Starling to choose between a career in baseball or inclusion in an elite college football program.
The size of the signing bonus is a surprise, as Starling, a Scott Boras client, was rumored to be seeking $10 million. The Royals supposedly offered $7.5 to start negotiations and eventually, that’s what both parties agreed upon.
From here, Starling should be assigned to instructional leagues since many rookie leagues are soon to wind down for the season. Further instruction over the winter is likely and he may make his way to rookie level baseball next spring. After that, it’s all up to Bubba and utilizing the athletic ability that made him a five tool player in the draft. Starling turned 19 on August 4, so he’s not really young relative to a lot of high school players now entering professional baseball, but he has as much upside as anybody who was in the 2011 draft class an if he puts it together, he’ll be a fast riser in the system.
Rustin Dodd’s story on the signing is on the Kansas City Star website here.