Bubba Starling Rumors
Last year's top pick, Bryce Harper, hit his first professional walk-off home run last night and now has 13 homers, 11 stolen bases and a .346/.432/.623 line at Class A. Still just 18 years old, Harper provides lots of hope for Nationals fans, though the big league club is in last place with a 25-31 record. Here's the latest out of Washington:
- Nationals manager Jim Riggleman told Bill Ladson of MLB.com that he isn’t worried about his job security, though he’s in the last year of his contract.
- Frankie Piliere of FOX Sports hears that the Nationals have zoned in on high school outfielder Bubba Starling with the sixth overall pick (Twitter link).
- In case you haven't heard about the toolsy two-sport star, check out my piece on Starling from a couple weeks ago.
This year’s draft is deep, particularly in terms of power pitchers. Here are the details on some draft-eligible players and the teams that are eyeing them...
- Texas A&M righty Josh Stilson received a second opinion on his injured shoulder from Dr. James Andrews, who believes surgery can be avoided with a six-week rehab program according to Baseball America's Jim Callis. Stilson, a projected first round pick, suffered a SLAP tear in his throwing shoulder and will miss the rest of the season.
- ESPN's Jerry Crasnick wrote about Rocco Baldelli's front office job with the Rays, which involves evaluating amateur position players for the draft.
- Astros assistant GM and scouting director Bobby Heck told MLB.com's Brian McTaggart that he has been impressed with the crop of power arms in this year's draft.
- Odds are the Astros will take a pitcher with the 11th overall pick, according to Stephen Goff of the Houston Astros Examiner (Twitter links). High school pitcher Archie Bradley told Goff that "the Astros have been in pretty good contact" with him.
- High school right-hander Dylan Bundy is a fitness freak who is mature beyond his years, as Nick Piecoro shows at the Arizona Republic. Bundy's pre-season goals? "To hit 100 mph, have a zero ERA and not walk anybody." His fastball touched 100 and he posted a 0.25 ERA with a 158K/5BB ratio.
- MLB.com's Bill Ladson hears that the Nationals, who select sixth overall, are looking at Bundy, Danny Hultzen, Bubba Starling, Jed Bradley, Trevor Bauer and Alex Meyer.
- The Royals entered the season with the best farm system in the game, yet GM Dayton Moore told MLB.com's Dick Kaegel that there are many areas in which the organization's prospect depth can improve.
- The Rays have 12 of the first 89 selections this year and executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman says those selections boost the team's odds of finding elite talent. "The more arrows you have, the more likely you are to hit the bulls-eye," Friedman told Bill Chastain of MLB.com.
- The Padres, who have five of the first 58 picks in the draft, are looking forward to their selections with equal enthusiasm, according to MLB.com's Corey Brock. GM Jed Hoyer says the Padres need to get their picks right.
- The Red Sox, Hoyer's former team, also have extra picks, something that GM Theo Epstein is looking forward to. “I think it energizes the scouting staff the whole year because they know going in and seeing players, there’s a much better chance you can actually get a guy," he told Ryan Hannable of WEEI.com.
- The Twins will look to add pitching early on, according to MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger.
- Mets executives Paul DePodesta and Sandy Alderson agree with the consensus that the draft is deep in pitching, according to MLB.com's Anthony DiComo.
The draft takes place one week from today; here’s the latest as teams prepare their draft boards for next Monday...
- ESPN.com’s Keith Law projects the Pirates to select UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole with the first overall pick, though he says they’re still seriously in on Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen and high school outfielder Bubba Starling. It’s too early to rule out Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon either.
- The D’Backs could take Hultzen, UCLA right-hander Trevor Bauer or high schooler Dylan Bundy third overall, according to Law.
- It looks like the Orioles will take an arm fourth overall; they have Bundy, high schooler Archie Bradley and Cole in their sights.
- If Bauer falls to the Indians, they’ll take him, according to Law.
- The Cubs “sent a small army” to watch outfielder George Springer at the Big East tournament.
- The Padres are interested in UConn right-hander Matt Barnes and Vanderbilt right-hander Sonny Gray.
- The top three players on one team’s draft board are advised by agent Scott Boras, according to Yahoo’s Jeff Passan.
- Rendon's stock is down a bit because of a dip in production and injury concerns, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, but Rendon's coach at Rice, Wayne Graham, expects the third baseman to go within the top two picks.
- The Giants shouldn't (and won't) alter their draft strategy in response to Buster Posey's season-ending injury, writes Jim Callis of Baseball America in a mailbag.
With the MLB draft coming up on June 6th, let's take a look at some draft-related tidbits..
- Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe tweets that the Red Sox released Ryan Harvey, who was the 2003 1st round pick of the Cubs. The 26-year-old was trying to convert from the outfield to the mound but never found his way out of extended Spring Training with Boston.
- There's been talk of a lack of elite bats in this year's draft, but there appears to be a good amount of depth when it comes to the outfield prospects, writes Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. Mayo highlights a number of the top outfielders in the draft, including Bubba Starling, George Springer, Mikie Mahtook, and Jackie Bradley.
- More from Mayo who writes that there's a good deal of buzz around Stanford closer Chris Reed, who is seen by some scouts as a starter. Reed, it appears, will be taken somewhere in the sandwich round.
- Meanwhile, Mayo writes that two pitchers, Oregon lefty Tyler Anderson and Texas A&M right-hander John Stilson, may have hurt their stock with recent poor outings.
- The Pirates announced that they signed five amateur free agents: Nicaraguan right-hander Adolfo Flores, Dominican right-hander Juan Mendoza, Panamanian position player Edgar Munoz and Venezuelan outfielders Anthony Claudio and Keybel Escobar. Claudio "resembles a young Magglio Ordonez," according to Pirates Latin America scouting director Rene Gayo.
- Bob Nightengale of USA Today says Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder could get a $200MM deal in free agency if he keeps hitting like this (Twitter link). Fielder leads the NL with 41 RBI and has a .285/.380/.548 line 216 plate appearances into the season.
- There's only a slim chance that high school right-hander Dylan Bundy will be available when the Cubs select ninth overall in next month's draft, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America (on Twitter). If Bundy and high school outfielder Bubba Starling have already been selected, Vanderbilt right-hander Sonny Gray could be an option for the Cubs.
The buzz about the MLB draft is intensifying and understandably so - the big day is less than two weeks away. Here’s the latest:
- Baseball America presents its top 200 draft prospects. Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon is first on the list and high school right-hander Dylan Bundy leapfrogged UCLA righty Gerrit Cole to take the second spot on BA’s list.
- Meanwhile, ESPN.com's Keith Law ranks his top 100 draft-eligible players. Cole (#1), Rendon (#2) and high school outfielder Bubba Starling (#3) top his list and Bundy comes in fourth.
- Two UConn Huskies, Matt Barnes and George Springer, are gaining momentum, according to Jason A. Churchill of ESPN.com. Cole, however, is losing momentum.
- In his latest chat, Jim Callis of Baseball America says he thinks Vanderbilt right-hander Sonny Gray can start or become a dynamic closer.
- Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com previews this year's draft-eligible middle infielders, starting with high schooler Francisco Lindor, an outstanding defender who can hit for average and some power.
- University of Hawaii second baseman Kolten Wong told Mayo that he doesn't mind at all when people doubt him because of his size (he's 5'9"). Wong says he has spoken to fellow Hawaiian Shane Victorino about dealing with the draft.
- White Sox scouting director Doug Laumann told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune that the White Sox should get some "pretty good players" even though their first pick is the 47th overall selection. Chicago could end up taking a position player this year, according to Laumann.
The 2011 draft takes place in exactly two weeks. In the meantime, here's the latest draft-related news from around the game...
- Executives estimate that high school right-hander Dylan Bundy could obtain a bonus of $6-7MM, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. Bundy has a 100 mph fastball and has been linked to a possible $30MM asking price (basically double Stephen Strasburg’s current record of $15.1MM).
- Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen, UCLA right-hander Trevor Bauer and high school outfielder Bubba Starling are moving up draft boards, according to Heyman. Some expect the Cubs to take Starling if he’s available when they select ninth overall.
- Executives continue to suggest to ESPN.com's Buster Olney that Anthony Rendon's future may be at second base because of body type and arm concerns (Twitter links). Rendon entered the season as a higly-regarded defender at third, but has spent considerable time DHing this year because of injuries.
- Teams received their slot bonus recommendations from the commissioner's office last week, according to Olney.
- MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo breaks down this year's available catchers, starting with high schoolers Blake Swihart and Austin Hedges. Swihart can hit for average and power, but may be a tough sign and could eventually move to the outfield. Hedges has the top defensive skills of any draft-eligible catcher and could hit enough to be an everyday backstop.
- The Rays have 12 picks in the first two rounds of this year's draft - enough to re-load an already-deep farm system. But as Jim Callis of Baseball America explains, teams with lots of early picks haven't done particularly well, historically speaking.
- Frankie Piliere of FOX Sports hears that the Yankees are “heavily in on” prospects Dillon Howard and Brandon Martin (Twitter link). Howard is asking for a large bonus, according to Piliere.
MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo posted his first mock draft today, and within it he provides some info about what players are being targeted by what teams...
- The Pirates are still looking at Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, Danny Hultzen, Dylan Bundy, Bubba Starling, and perhaps even Archie Bradley.
- Most believe that Bundy wants to turn pro despite his reported six-year, $30MM contract demand.
- The Royals continue to look hard at college arms, but "there's a lot of chatter" about Starling, a semi-local kid.
- The Diamondbacks will get a "bounty of college pitching" with the third and seventh overall picks.
- The Cubs would love Starling if he is still on the board when their ninth overall pick comes around.
- It's unclear if the Astros are leaning towards a college or high school player, but Texas native Taylor Jungmann could be too good for them to pass up at pick number 11.
That the Pirates have thought about taking high schooler Bubba Starling over better-known, better-established college players such as Anthony Rendon and Gerrit Cole with the first overall pick next month tells you the outfielder has talent. What kind of potential does he have? What kinds of risks would selecting him entail? Here’s what you need to know about Starling, a sure first rounder and a possible future star.
In the words of MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo, the 18-year-old is a ‘true five-tool’ player who could make an impact at a premium position. Baseball America calls him the best athlete in the draft, a five-tool center fielder with enough strength, bat speed and leverage to produce above-average power.
Not only does Starling have power potential to spare and the ability to hit for average, he is an outstanding defender in center field thanks to his range and arm. Mayo says he projects as a more refined version of Drew Stubbs - high praise considering that the underrated Stubbs has become an excellent player.
There’s a catch, though, and it’s not the quad injury that sidelined Starling for almost a month earlier this year. He is a two-sport star whose athleticism is hard to match. Some say he can toss a football 50 yards from his knees and baseball scouts aren't the only ones who have noticed; Nebraska wants Starling to play quarterback and center field on a scholarship, so he has leverage.
Scott Boras, Starling’s advisor, will presumably be asking for more than ‘slot’ money to lure Starling away from football and a college scholarship, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. ESPN.com's Keith Law suggests it will take a bonus of over $5MM, but with the high asking price comes lots of potential, so some team figures to pounce on Starling early on.
The Pirates are considering three to five players with the first overall pick in this June’s draft, according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. There’s no obvious top pick like Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper, so the Pirates are still evaluating and discussing their options.
"There is not a clear-cut No. 1 this year," GM Neal Huntington said. "That's why we continue to work. That's why we continue to follow a handful of players and do our due diligence.”
UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole, Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon and Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen appear to be in the mix for the top pick. Huntington and other Pirates execs have seen all three college stars.
Conor Glassey of Baseball America reported earlier this week that high school shortstop Francisco Lindor and high school outfielder Bubba Starling have also entered the discussion for the Pirates' top pick. However, Colin Dunlap of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette hears that the Pirates believe Lindor is "waaay too small," and they're not even considering him for the top pick (Twitter link). Lindor is listed at 5-foot-11, 170 lbs.
The Pirates have spent more on the draft than any other organization since 2009 and, once again, scouting director Greg Smith has been handed “full assurance” that he can take whichever player he wants, regardless of bonus demands. The Pirates expect to be aggressive after the first round, according to Langosch. Their second selection is 61st overall; for a team-by-team breakdown of top picks, click here.