After more than a year of anxious anticipation, Kansas City Royals fans finally saw (via an Internet box score) Bubba Starling in action.
Let the hand-wringing begin.
The Royals top-rated prospect and the number one outfield prospect as ranked by mlb.com, fanned three times in five at bats in his first ever game as a pro at rookie league Burlington. And that after months of contract negotiations, Nebraska Cornhusker football practices, a fall season cut short by injury, and an embarrasing arrest.
A hamstring injury kept him out of the first nine of Burlington’s 68 games, and kept Royals fans in a state of panic that their local phenom would fall short of their lofty expectations. Any roadblock is not good for Starling. He’s old for a high-school draftee – he’ll be 20 on August 3 – and has a decidedly steep learning curve before him, coming from a Kansas high school.
Well, the wait is finally over. Now the scrutiny can begin in earnest. When you’re the number one pick (and a multi-millionaire), you can’t hide in anonymity at the rookie-league level. Starling will have all eyes on him as he sinks or swims as a professional ballplayer.
Starling went into the draft as the darling of the Kansas City area. But he burned some of that collatoral when he and Scott Boras toyed around last summer, wasting time Starling could have put into becoming a better player. The arrest and the injuries have all taken some of the shine off Starling’s star.
Time will tell if he warrants the cash, the rankings, and the anxious attention of Royals fans.