Bubba Starling toiled in the Kansas City Royals minor league system for several years, now he hopes to make a statement and earn a roster spot.
A polarizing figure coming out of Gardner-Edgerton High School in Gardner, Kansas, Bubba Starling had a decision to make. He was gifted a scholarship to be a quarterback for the University of Nebraska and could go there also playing baseball for the Huskers, or he could go to the minor leagues, having been drafted fifth overall in the baseball draft by the Kansas City Royals.
The $7.5 million signing bonus Starling was offered made the decision a lot easier and after signing his contract he began his professional career at age 19. When he secured the second largest signing bonus at the time (largest by a player leaving high school) Starling didn’t think he’d still be in the minors seven years later. He was.
When the Royals fell out of contention early last year they called Starling to the bigs to see if he could handle the rigors of baseball’s top rank. Bubba Starling struggled. In nearly 200 plate appearances he hit just .215 with an OPS of .572 and struck out more than a fourth of the time he stepped to the plate.
Entering this season, the Royals chose to keep him on the 40-man roster and plan on giving him every opportunity to make the team out of spring training. The aging Alex Gordon was brought back on a one year deal and if he does not hit, Starling could potentially vie for some time playing time in left field.
Starling needs to break camp with the Kansas City Royal first and he is off to a respectable start to spring training. He has three hits in seven at bats, with a home run. He will have to cut down on his strikeouts, though with a solid spring he can earn a reserve outfielder position with hopes of garnering more playing time as the season unfolds.