Bubba Starling Still Looking for his Breakout Campaign


There has been a lot of hype surrounding Bubba Starling since he was drafted fifth overall in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft. He was a consensus top prospect in 2012 and 2013, considering not just one of the best prospects for the Royals, but in all of baseball. MLB.com rated Starling as high as the 17th best prospect in baseball prior to the 2012 season before he ever played a professional game.

However, despite showing promise in his 2012 campaign when he hit at a .275/.371/.485 rate with ten home runs and ten stolen bases, Starling has slumped as he progressed through the Royals system. Last season may have been rock bottom for the former top prospect, as Starling hit at a mere .218/.304/.338 rate, hitting nine home runs and stealing 17 bases for the Wilmington Blue Rocks.

When Bubba Starling was drafted, the Royals knew he was a raw player. He was an 18 year old with great tools, but it would take time to truly develop. Yet, as Starling has continued to progress through the system, his production has regressed. That breakout that has been expected just has not occurred.

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The Kansas City Royals are hopeful that the breakout they have been waiting for will happen this season. Starling was certainly going to take some time to become the player the Royals were hoping for, but it is unlikely that many in the organization were expecting that, in his fourth season, Starling would still be struggling. Those flashes of potential have been less and less frequent. Even his time in the Arizona Fall League, designed to give Starling a boost heading into the offseason, proved to be a disappointment.

That word, disappointment, seems to be a constant description for Bubba Starling over the past couple of years. How long can Starling continue to be moved up the ladder, step at a time, when he has yet to prove that he can handle the competition at his present location in the minors? Will that hoped for breakout ever actually happen?

The Kansas City Royals have been patient with Bubba Starling thus far. If he continues to struggle in 2015, one has to wonder how much longer that patience will remain.

Next: Royals position players successes and failures in winter ball