The Seedlings To Stars 2012 Top 100 Prospects, #52: Bubba Starling

Name: Bubba Starling
DOB: 8/3/92
Organization: Royals
Position: Outfield

Why He’s This High: Starling, the fifth overall pick in the 2011 draft, signed too late to play, but scouts love his potential. The first position player selected in the draft, he has explosive athleticism that gives him plus power potential and good defense in center field.

The Royals thought enough of the high school football star to give him $7.5 million to keep him away from the college gridiron.

While Starling is still quite raw, that’s understandable, since he spent so much time on football in high school. He needs to do a better job incorporating his lower half into his swing, but if he makes that adjustment, he’ll have even more power than he already does; it’s a testament to his current strength that he can clear fences with his current swing mechanics.

Why He’s This Low: It’s certainly quite plausible that Starling will grow into his considerable potential, but there’s a lot he’ll need to do to reach his ceiling, and he’s completely unproven as a professional. He’ll need to refine his swing, and like many high school hitters, he also tends to chase a lot of pitches outside the strike zone.

Defensively, Starling will need to prove he can stick in center field; while he’s got the athleticism and arm strength for right, moving there would put even more pressure on his bat.

It should be noted that Starling is somewhat old for a high school draftee; he’s well over a year older than #8 pick Francisco Lindor, for example. As Rany Jazayerli’s study on high school hitters shows, being older than most is not a good omen.

Conclusions: Starling has very impressive raw talent, but he has a long way to go. He could be a right-handed Curtis Granderson in center, or he could end up like a Delmon Young sort of player, whose eternal rawness compromises his considerable talent.

A good introduction to pro ball would put Starling among the game’s elite prospects. For now, he’s in this spot. Like most recent draftees, it’s tough to slot him in on a list like this, and it’s quite easy to justify almost any ranking for him, depending on how much you weight potential vs. track record.

Check out all of the Seedlings To Stars 2012 Top 100 Prospects here!

For more on the Royals, check out Kings of Kauffman!

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Tags: Bubba Starling Kansas City Royals

  • scott7194

    Really enjoy the site. Keep up the good work ;)

  • thebaseballfish

    One other point to make on Starling since you omitted it in the above is that he rates as a 70 runner on the 20-80 scale.

    He’s one of the fastest athletes to ever play HS football/baseball in the state of KS. Everyone knows that he was committed to play QB at Nebraska this year, but he was also a star on the basketball court and was a D-I talent there as well. Despite not being focused on baseball until now, he shows natural instincts on the diamond and already has excellent range to go along this his plus arm.

    The hit tool is the only of the 5 tools that concerns me about his game but right now that’s understandable athlete as it’s the one where technique and repetition play the biggest role and being a star in the other two sports prevented him from fully developing that part of his game.

    I’ve seen no indication or reports from any source/scouts that he will be anything but a CF with plus defense.

    • NathanielStoltz

      @thebaseballfish I heard there’s a chance he becomes a prototypical RF if he fills out. Depends on how much weight he puts on; either way, he has the athleticism and arm strength to become a defensive asset.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if he breaks in as a a CF and moves to RF mid-career.

      Agree on the running; I should have included that.

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