Bubba Starling Rumors
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.
The Padres (127 runs scored), Giants (128) and Dodgers (140) are all among the four most feeble offenses in the National League so far. Here's the latest on the NL West...
- Despite a weakened bullpen and a thin lineup, the Dodgers are within 3.5 games of the division lead. The team's rotation is the reason things aren't worse, manager Don Mattingly told Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times.
- D'Backs GM Kevin Towers and vice president Jerry Dipoto scouted high schooler Bubba Starling in person, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The two-sport star is athletic enough to make Bryce Harper take note; some say he can hit the ball a mile, throw 95 mph as a pitcher and toss a football 50 yards from his knees.
- It should come as no surprise that the Scott Boras client will be an expensive sign, Piecoro explains. Nebraska wants Starling to play quarterback and center field on a scholarship, so he has leverage. Arizona has the #3 and #7 selections in the first round this June.
- The Rockies "no longer have an ace," according to Tom Verducci of SI.com, who hears from one scout that Ubaldo Jimenez is pitching like he's hurt. His fastball has slowed down, but the Rockies say Jimenez is healthy and dealing with mechanical and command issues.
It takes a while for draft picks - even highly-touted ones - to make an impact in the Major Leagues. For example, only a handful of 2009 first round selections have made it to the majors so far (Stephen Strasburg, Mike Minor, Drew Storen, Aaron Crow, Mike Leake and Alex White). That won't stop us from anticipating the next generation of MLB stars and looking ahead to this June's draft...
- Earlier today, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes pointed out a potential hidden gem for the draft: Montana high school outfielder Ben Roberts (Twitter link).
- Most scouts assume that the Royals will take local high school standout Bubba Starling if he's available when they select fifth overall, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (on Twitter).
- Starling, Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen or UCLA right-hander Trevor Bauer could be selected within the first two picks of this year's draft, according to Jason A. Churchill of ESPN.com.
- Meanwhile, Texas right-hander Taylor Jungmann has seen his stock rise recently, while Connecticut right-hander Matt Barnes has seen his stock fall, according to Churchill.
- The Red Sox are showing interest in high school catcher Tyler Marlette, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. Marlette is a defensive backstop who could be selected within the first two rounds of the draft.