Bubba Starling off to a fast start in spring training
Bubba Starling is quietly putting together a great season for the Royals’ Triple-A affiliate, the Omaha Storm Chasers.
Well, maybe it’s not so quiet, because Starling is batting .345 and having the best stretch of play in his career.
Starling, the former Gardner Edgerton High School star, was taken by the Royals with the fifth overall pick in the 2011 draft, but he was hampered by injuries and struggles at the plate. The Royals non-tendered him last November, but he re-joined the franchise on a minor-league deal and had a great spring, batting .344 with three doubles and two home runs.
But, in part because he is not on the Royals’ 40-man roster, Starling was sent to Omaha, where he’s thrived this season.
Starling, 26, got out of the gate fast, batting .333 in April and he hasn’t slowed down. He’s had multiple hits in all four of Omaha’s games this month and is batting .563 (9 for 16) with a triple and a home run. The big fly came Thursday in the Storm Chasers’ 4-1 win over Albuquerque. He also stole third base.
Even when he struggled at the plate early in his career, Royals officials praised Starling’s defensive abilities, and he flashed the leather Thursday.
First, he threw a runner out at the plate:
And he ended the game with this incredible catch:
If Starling continues to play this well, it will be interesting to see if the Royals open a spot for him on the 40-man roster and perhaps call him up at some point.
Royals manager Ned Yost said Friday that he’d been checking on Starling’s minor-league progress every day.
“I’m amazed with what he’s doing,” Yost said. “He’s carried on what he did in spring training, which I thought he had a great spring. Different guy, more confidence. It’s a shame that he does it now when he was taken off the (40-man) roster, because now, it makes it more difficult to find a spot for him.
“But continue this, and we will. Just keep plugging away, doing your thing.”