Number three on MLB.com’s midseason top 20 prospects list for the KC Royals was ranked number two heading into the 2013 season. Outfielder Bubba Starling has all the tools to be a five-tool superstar, yet he has not been able to consistently put it all together. There have been some glimpses though.
Starling started his first full season of professional baseball with Low-A Lexington and he (like the rest of the offense) struggled. He hit just .195 in 24 April games and only hit .225 in 23 May games. In those first two months, he combined to strike out 56 times in 167 at-bats.
I saw Starling the first weekend in May and he took a lot of pitches, which put him in a huge hole at the plate. Then that leads to strikeouts. When he did reach base, his speed was impressive for a guy his size (6’4, 180 pounds).
Things got a little better for Starling in June, when he hit .250 in 24 games, but the struggles were back in July (.223). The one positive in July was that he cut down on his strikeouts (19) and walked a ton more (16 times). He also stole nine bases (the most of any month).
Though he struck out 24 times in August (his second most of any month), Starling hit .322 with four doubles, three triples, and four home runs (of his 28 hits). He also drove in 15 runs.
Starling‘s home-road and day-night splits were pretty drastic in 2013. In Lexington, he hit 12 of his 13 homers while hitting .270. On the road, he hit just .211. During the day, he hit .291, while at night, he hit just .226.
In centerfield for the Legends, Starling committed three errors in 242 chances. In 118 games out there, he had six outfield assists. It was the same total he had in 2012 with rookie level Burlington, but with 100 more chances.
Honestly, Starling reminds me of Brett Eibner, though just a bit younger. Both have all the tools and the Royals continue to support both, but the strikeouts are a HUGE concern (as is the low batting average). I have a feeling the Royals may be aggressive with Starling and push him to High-A Wilmington in 2014. It will be fun to watch him roam spacious Frawley Stadium (though it may not be fun to watch him hit).