Bubba Starling, a former Royals first-round pick and Gardner Edgerton graduate, will miss the rest of the 2017 season after reinjuring his right oblique muscle Thursday.
Starling sustained the injury while making a throw in center field at Class AAA Omaha. He was playing in his seventh game for the Storm Chasers after returning from a previous oblique injury, which sidelined him from July 9 to Aug. 11.
Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said the second oblique injury was in a different spot in Starling’s right side. But both injuries came on throws in the outfield. Starling is expected to be healthy enough to resume baseball activities in October.
A first-round pick in 2011, Starling batted .248 with a .303 on-base percentage and seven homers in 80 games at Omaha this season, his sixth in the Royals organization. He also experienced one of the hottest stretches of his career at the plate. After hitting .129 in April, Starling batted .289 with a .715 OPS (on-base-plus-slugging percentage) in May and .291 with a .811 OPS in June.
If Starling would have continued to trend upward at the plate, he could have been a candidate for a September call-up. For a rare stretch, he combined his sterling defense in center field with solid production at the plate. But he sustained the first oblique injury in early July, stalling his breakout summer.
Even if Starling had continued to hit, he would have had significant competition for a call-up. The Royals are expected to bring back Paulo Orlando in September, while Jorge Soler, Billy Burns and speedster Terrance Gore could also contribute off the bench.