After seeing four pitchers go with the first four picks, all of whom Kansas City was rumored to be interested in, the Royals took the highest upside player in this year’s draft, Kansas high school outfielder Bubba Starling.
If you read my story Sunday on the Royals possible selection, then you know I love this pick. I give GM Dayton Moore a lot of credit for being patient and taking the best available talent rather than the player that could help the Royals the quickest.
Starling is 6-foot-5 and a Nebraska football recruit as a dual-threat quarterback after running for more than 2,400 yards in his senior season. He is also a standout basketball player.
On the diamond, he already has plus speed and is projected to hit for plus power. His arm is so good that he likely would have still been a first-rounder as a pitcher and he profiles good enough defensively to stay in center field. The question is whether he can hit for a high enough average against big-league pitching, as the level of competition and number of at-bats he has had in high school are small.
But he has played in the summer showcase circuit and has performed well against the other top high schoolers in the country, so he’s likely not the next Chris Lubanski.
Looking forward, putting someone with Starling’s talent in a future lineup with Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Wil Myers and Billy Butler is scary for opposing AL pitchers. Now Starling is raw, so it will probably be until 2014 or 2015 until he sees the big leagues. But he’ll definitely be worth the wait.
For more on Starling, read the great piece Mitch Sherman did on ESPN.com
About the Author
Written by Ryan Riordan