Bubba Starling has been focused and confident during spring training, not unlike past years with the Royals.
But Starling said he’s playing without pressure he’s previously put on himself as a prospect.
“The more I try to put on myself, the more I stress and go out and not do what I want to do,” said Starling, an outfielder. “I just want to have some fun out there, be a good teammate with all the guys, go from there. Hopefully good things happen.”
The Royals made Starling, the former multi-sport star at Gardner Edgerton High School, the No. 5 overall draft selection in 2011, and has worked his way through the system. He hit .269 in the minors in 2015 but the average dropped to .183 with a .534 on-base-plus-slugging percentage combined at Class AAA Omaha and Class AA Northwest Arkansas last year.
Starling quickly put the season in the rear-view mirror.
“I can’t control anything that happened last year,” he said. “It’s over with … I’m ready for this season and moving forward.”
That movement started quickly after last season. Starling went to work on his stroke immediately after the season, becoming a regular at Building Champions Academy in Overland Park.
“I started earlier than I ever started, putting in the work. Hopefully it will pay off,” Starling said.
Does a hitting slump prompt a wistful thought about football? Starling opted for a $7.5 million signing bonus over a football scholarship at Nebraska.
“Definitely not,” Starling said. “That’s why I have my family and support of my teammates and coaches.”