Opinion

Bubba Starling is Royals' highest-rated prospect by MLB.com

Bubba Starling is getting a lot of love these days.

Starling, the Gardner Edgerton High School graduate who was the Royals’ first-round pick in the 2011 draft, was named as the No. 26 overall prospect by the MLB.com in a list unveiled Tuesday. Two pitchers also made the rankings: last year’s first draft pick Kyle Zimmer was No. 34 and Yordano Ventura was rated 59th.

On Monday, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo had Starling ranked seventh in his top 10 outfield prospects.

“If you’re looking for a hitter, an impact player, it has to be Bubba Starling,” Mayo told The Star earlier this month. “(Third baseman) Cheslor Cuthbert, he might be OK, but Bubba Starling is the guy if you’re going to look at a guy in that system who could turn into that elite-level prospect, real impact player at the big-league level, he’s the guy.”

Starling, 20, made his professional debut last year. His numbers: .275/.371/.485 with 10 home runs, 10 stolen bases and 33 RBIs in 53 games for Burlington, N.C., a rookie-league team.

Zimmer, 21, was 3-3 and a 2.04 ERA in nine starts for rookie-level Surprise, Ariz., and Class A Kane County. He struck out 42 in 39 2/3 innings with just eight walks.

Ventura, 21, made three stops in 2012: Surprise, Class A Wilmington, Del., and Class AA Northwest Arkansas. His combined numbers: 4-7 with a 3.62 ERA in 23 starts. Ventura, who has drawn comparisons with former Cy Young award winner Pedro Martinez, a power arm. He had 130 strikeouts last year in 109 1/3 innings with 42 walks.

Ventura had a start last year at Kauffman Stadium: for the World Team in the All-Star Futures Game.

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