25-Year-Old Outfielder – Kansas City Royals
2018 Fantasy Baseball Outlook
There was no outlook written for Bubba Starling in 2018. Check out the latest news below for more on his current fantasy value.
General manager Dayton Moore said Starling (oblique) will start the 2018 season with Triple-A Omaha, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.
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Kansas City Royals Roster
MajorsAlexander, Scott (P)
AAABurns, Billy (OF)
AAArteaga , Humberto (SS)
A+Blewett, Scott (P)
RookieBrickhouse, Bryan (P)
Bubba Starling: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
There was no outlook written for Bubba Starling.
Starling had a decent enough season in 2015, but any optimism that the former fifth-overall pick would avoid being a complete bust was negated by his woeful performance last year. He struggled mightily at Double-A, and though he showed absolutely no signs of being able to handle the level, the Royals went ahead and promoted Starling anyway, with predictable results. He hit a homer in his first game with Triple-A Omaha, but he would hit only one other home run (among just eight total extra-base hits) over his remaining 173 plate appearances at the level. He is running out of time to salvage any value for the team that drafted him, and Starling is more likely to become a cautionary tale against drafting a player so high in the draft based purely on his raw tools. Playing multiple sports used to be considered a positive indicator for a ballplayer's athleticism, but now it just calls into question whether the player has developed the necessary skills against competition that is increasingly focused on a single sport.
The fifth overall pick in a loaded 2011 draft finally reached Double-A as a 22-year-old after destroying High-A pitching over the first two weeks of last season. Starling’s numbers were less monstrous once he got to the Texas League, but across the two levels he was still able to post his best OPS (.785) since he was playing rookie ball 2012. It is still too soon to say that Starling will make it as an everyday outfielder in the big leagues, but that now seems like a more likely scenario than it did a year ago. He already has the requisite defensive tools to play center field and the raw power to handle a corner spot if that’s what the roster dictates. After showing the ability to make more contact last season, posting a tolerable 24.9% K-rate, this year will be all about getting his plus raw tools to show up in games more often. Starling will likely spend the majority of 2016 at the Triple-A level.
Starling spent the entire 2014 season at High-A Wilmington, where he was unable to improve on his poor plate discipline, striking out a career-worst 150 times compared to just 49 walks. To add to his struggles, he hit a career-low nine home runs, and posted a shaky .218/.304/.338 slash line over 482 at-bats. It wasn't all bad, however, as Starling was able to steal 17 bases, and continues to be regarded as one of the better defensive outfield prospects in the organization. Now entering his age-22 season, time may soon be running out for Starling, though the Royals remain hopeful the adjustments they've made in his stance and swing will help him fulfill some of his power potential.
After hitting 13 home runs and stealing 22 bases over 125 games for Low-A Lexington last year, there remains a good amount of promise and hope that the 21-year old Starling will eventually blossom into a solid major league outfielder. His biggest issues, ones that weren't corrected moving from the Royals' Rookie League to Lexington, are found inn his plate discipline, or lack thereof. He hit .241 for the year and struck out 128 times over 498 plate appearances. While that rate is slightly lower than it was the year before, it is still a little high for a player with his expected skill set. He is obviously still young enough to make significant improvements in his game. However, this season, which he will likely spend at High-A Wilmington, could play a key role in whether or not he remains a top prospect moving forward.
Starling, the former two-sport high school standout in Kansas, enjoyed his first full professional season when the Royals assigned him to their short-season Rookie League affiliate last year and he hit .275 with 10 home runs, and nine stolen bases over 232 plate appearances. He also posted a .371 OBP as well as an ISO that ran north of .200 for the year. Starling is still very much a work in progress as he also posted a strikeout rate of over 30 percent and appears to need some work on his basic hitting mechanics. Still, the raw power, the bat speed and his speed both on the bases and in the outfield make him a very intriguing option as he develops. He is still just 20 years old and needs to play a full season in the minors before we see just how quickly he could advance, but if you are playing in a dynasty league, he should be more than just on your radar.
Starling was the fifth overall pick in the 2011 draft. A local prospect, he came straight out of high school, bypassing a potential stay at the University of Nebraska, where he could have played both baseball and football. Expected to move quickly through the Royals' system, owners will want to track Starling as he is viewed as an elite level prospect with power and speed.