Storm Chasin’: Is Bubba Starling a Dud?

Storm Chasin

Heather Avi HeaderI spent this past weekend in Kansas City and may have caught a little of the “Royals” bug. I started to ask myself a bunch of questions like:

Is it too early to count the Royals out of the postseason? Can the Royals stay healthy? Why aren’t the Royals winning? Is it too early to consider Bubba Starling a flop?  Will the Storm Chasers ever win this season? (OK, that was an exaggeration.)

As the “Omaha Storm Chasers writer” I decided it’d be best if I tackled one of those questions. I care about the Royals, but I don’t follow the team as closely as the Red Sox — you should already know this. Sure, I’d consider myself “qualified” enough to discuss Royals stuff, but alas…

There’s this question that’s been burning in my brain for a few weeks now: Is Bubba Starling over-hyped?

Let’s recap: The No. 7 Royals prospect debuted in Omaha on July 3 after spending time in Double-A Northwest Arkansas.

He didn’t get called up to Omaha because he was performing well. In fact, I never figured out why the organization made the move, but my guess would be to give the guy a change of scenery.

In Double-A, Starling was at a .185 average with 81 strikeouts. He only walked 15 times. His on base percentage? A mere .251. (This is over 233 at bats in 62 games.)

A few days before his call up, a friend asked me where Bubba Starling was at in the Royals organization. I had no idea. Honestly, my first guess was Single-A because I hadn’t heard anything about him in a while — maybe since he’d been drafted. My friend lamented the kid as I looked up his stats.

“He should’ve played for the Huskers,” he said.

Starling originally committed to play football and baseball at the University of Nebraska. Two sports. It seems to me that he made the better choice by committing fully to one that he could focus on developing his craft in.

But, I’m wrong because Big Red football ranks higher than God in Nebraska.

When I realized Starling was actually in Double-A this season, I was surprised. I wasn’t surprised by his stats. If he’d been clobbering pitches in Northwest Arkansas, we would’ve heard about it.

And yet, he’s in Triple-A putting up the same numbers he did in the level below. Starling has slipped to a .154 batting average in Omaha. He’s played in 23 games and had 39 at bats. He’s scored three runs over six hits, and he’s struck out 12 times.

Maybe he’s just in a slump? Maybe he just needs more time? Or maybe next year he’ll start the season in Omaha and earn a promotion from there?

It seems like Bubba Starling still has a ways to go before he makes his Major League debut. He’s got to be more patient at the plate — that’s what it comes down to.

It’s probably too soon to make assumptions as he is only 23 and it’s definitely too soon to say that Starling won’t ever make it in the majors.

Bubba Starling and high expectations are synonymous. It’s made me more skeptical of his performance and of the Royals assessment of his value. But, that’s probably why I’m not a baseball scout, and I write for a living…

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