KC Royals: Bubba Starling off to hot start in spring training

(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

Bubba Starling knows how to hit in Spring Training for the KC Royals. This may be his last real shot to show he can do the same in the regular season.

Bubba Starling is coming out hot for the KC Royals in 2020 spring training. Through his first 4 games, he has two homeruns and a double. His On-Base Percentage is over .500. He looks like a young man who knows he is on one of his last chances and intends to make the most of it.

Starling has been major league ready as a defender for some time now. His range is impressive, he gets good jumps on the ball, and his glove is true. In his very short time in the major leagues, he has already recorded several highlight-reel plays with his outfield glove.

Bubba Starling impressive diving catch against Baltimore

Big-time hustle from Bubba.#AlwaysRoyal

Posted by Kansas City Royals on Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Bubba also has a world-class arm. His right arm is a cannon and it is accurate. The below video shows a play that Starling almost makes look easy. He glides into a catch in centerfield before throwing out Francisco Lindor trying to come home. By a country mile. That is not an easy play, and it certainly should not be quite that easy of a play for the catcher.  That is an impressive arm, at any level of baseball.

Bubba Starling makes an amazing throw from center field

Hey, there's a reason the Cornhuskers wanted him to be their quarterback. Bubba Starling shows off his cannon arm, throwing out Francisco Lindor at home plate. Tune in now on FSKC and FSGO: https://a.fsgo.com/LzdRSBmnhYKansas City Royals

Posted by FOX Sports Kansas City on Friday, July 26, 2019

So, the issue with Starling has never been his defense. If he could get on base with any regularity, his defense would keep him on the field. But, thus far in his career, he has not been able to consistently get on base. Through nearly 700 minor league games, his On Base Percentage is only .317. That is not going to get it done.

It is worth noting that Bubba was also awesome in spring training last season. His On Base Percentage was over .400. And, although his hot start did seem to translate to a good season in Omaha, he failed to carry that performance over once he got to Kansas City.

I, for one, was impressed with what Starling did last season. After a career of struggling to get through the minors, and after three different stints in Omaha where he failed to maintain an OPS over .700, he really looked quite good in 2019. In AAA he got on base and he even showed a little pop, maintaining an OPS over .800 for the Storm Chasers.

I doubt whether Bubba will ever show more than occasional power in the big leagues. But, that would be a bonus with a defensive center fielder. Getting on base needs to be his focus. He got on base in over 35 percent of his plate appearances for Omaha in 2019. Those are the numbers we need to see him maintain for the KC Royals.

Next. KC Royals draft check-in 2017 editiion. dark

Bubba Starling is an impressive person. He is an easy player to cheer for. After choosing baseball over a much-heralded football career and becoming a first-round pick, he has struggled consistently in the minor leagues. At no level above A ball has he maintained an OPS over .700 for his career. Yet, he continues to show up every day and work hard. At 27 years old, most top prospects that have yet to pan out would be completely written off. Bubba Starling’s perseverance has kept him around. It would be a great story in 2020 if he made that final step to becoming a major league contributor. And, the KC Royals should give him the at-bats in 2020 to see what he can do with them.