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Now that Bubba Starling has officially donned a Royals jersey and hat at a press conference held at Kauffman Stadium prior to the game Wednesday evening against the Yankees, let's take a look back at the confirmed money that the Royals draft selections received. Obviously Starling, being the fifth overall choice received the highest amount at $7.5 million.
Bubba Starling OF (1st round) $7.5 million
Bryan Brickhouse RHP (3rd) $1.5 million
Cameron Gallagher C (2nd) $750,000
Jack Lopez SS (16th) $750,000
Kyle Smith RHP (4th) $695,000
Jake Junis RHP (29th) $675,000
Patrick Leonard 3B (5th) $600,000
Mark Binford RHP (30th) $575,000
Cesar Ogondo LHP (6th) $150,000
Stephen Lumpkins LHP (13th) $150,000
Jerrell Allen OF (11th) $125,000
Aaron Brooks RHP (9th) $90,000
Matt Murray RHP (10th) $75,000
Kellen Moen RHP (7th) 45,000
Spencer Patton RHP (24th) $1,000
The Royals were high spenders, giving 11 players $125,000 or more. Obviously the round you are selected in doesn't always translate to talent level. There are variables such as the leverage involved. If a player is a senior in college, they really have no other choice than to sign. A high school player holds quite a deck of cards because they can threaten to attend college instead of turning pro. Lopez, Junis, and Binford were all players drafted in lower rounds, but the Royals opened their checkbooks to get deals done. Often if a high school player appears to be a lock for college or is known to be requesting a large contract, that player will fall in the draft.
Lopez comes as the biggest surprise to me as all indications were that he would be attending the University of Miami. His 16th round selection not necessarily reflective of the talent he will be bringing into the organization.
As a whole, the Royals shelled out $14,066,000 on the major league draft this season, the third most any major league club. The Pittsburgh Pirates gave out $17,005,700, including giving second round pick Josh Bell an unbelievable $5 million. Many has chalked Bell, a high schooler, up as on his way to Austin to play for the Texas Longhorns. Bell had made it be known to all teams prior to the draft he would be attending college, which probably was the reason he fell to the second round.
Also finishing just ahead of the Royals were the Washington Nationals who spent $15,002,100, including giving major league contracts to both Rice third basemen Anthony Rendon and TCU pitcher Matt Purke. All dollar amounts come courtesy of Baseball America.
On the flip side, it is good news for Kansas City fans to see that the two teams that shelled out the least amount of money during the annual baseball draft were American League Central Division foes, the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox. While the Royals continue to spend both in the draft and in international free agency, we can only hope to see the continued rise of the Royals, while hopefully those two clubs fall back closer to the pack.
Over the next few days we will look more in depth on the impressive Royals draft class the organization was able to bring together in signing 22 of their first 25 picks, but we also should take a look at who the Royals were unable to sign.
The best among that group may be eighth round selection Evan Beal, a 6’5" right handed pitcher from Virginia who will be attending the University of South Carolina this fall. South Carolina took home their second consecutive national championship this summer, and as the summer dragged on, it came as no surprise down the stretch that Beal would honor his commitment to the Gamecocks. In late July Beal made it known he would be passing on the Royals (according to the Lorton Patch). It wasn’t for a lack of money as the Royals offered a reported $650,000 for Beal to sign.
Another player the Royals missed out on signing was University of California-Berkeley pitcher Matt Flemer. Flemer, whom the Royals selected in the 19th round pitched this past season for a Bears team that made the NCAA College World Series all while the baseball program was on the brink of elimination due to budget concerns. Flemer appeared in 30 games out the bullpen for the team and was 4-2 with a 1.83 ERA. He struck out 41 while walking just eight hitters, and lead the Bears with six saves. He will turn 21 this fall, so Flemer likely would have been able to move up the Kansas City chain rather quickly.
Overall the Royals were able to sign 34 of their 50 draft selections with 10 of those unsigned selections coming in the 31st round or later.
While Bubba Starling made the most noise among the Kansas City Royals draft class, the overall haul is quite impressive. And it's drawing the attention of amateur baseball analysts who are describing it as one of the best in baseball this year.
Of course it helps to have a top five overall choice when it comes to public perception, since landing that major name anchors a draft class for most pundits. But Baseball America's Jim Callis is pleased with the Royals overall effort, pointing to their ability to spend in the draft compared to years prior.
Callis writes, "The Royals used to be known as an organization that would spend for a first-rounder but often skimped in the rest of the draft. Those days are long, long gone, as Kansas City signed seven players to bonuses of at least $600,000...The Royals' draft is about more than just Starling. Third-rounder Bryan Brickhouse, a Texas prep righty, got the next-largest bonus, signing for $1.5 million. This draft class could produce another wave of prospects like the one crashing in Kansas City right now, led by Eric Hosmer."
That 2008 Draft class that Callis alludes to also included Mike Montgomery, Johnny Giavotella and John Lamb among others. It's a class that's anchored several positions among the Royals top prospects, and that's good news as many of the prospects hit the majors since the farm system will need to be restocked. The Royals can only hope that Starling, Brickhouse, Cameron Gallagher and Kyle Smith, among others, can have the same level of impact.
While sports media outlets in the heartland were abuzz wondering where Bubba Starling would land, Nebraska head football coach Bo Pelini apparently kept the distractions to a minimum for his players as they started practice this summer. That’s good because, in the end, Starling signed with the Kansas City Royals for $7.5 million and won’t play into the Cornhuskers’ future either way.
When asked whether or not it was an issue, Brian Rosenthal at the Lincoln Star Journal reports that players denied it was even a problem. “‘Not at all,’ said Kyler Reed. The Husker junior tight end said Pelini brought up the Starling situation to the team at the beginning of fall camp, but since then he hasn’t heard anyone mention it. ‘While we’ve been in camp it really hasn’t been brought up.… It’s out of our hands so we don’t worry about it.’”
The response is a bit surprising since Starling was at least working alongside Nebraska players in off-season workouts on campus. He pulled back when the clock ticked closer after his family decided not to allow Starling to officially practice until the MLB signing deadline that came last night, but he would have developed some level of friendships with the team — persons who would have certainly been privy to Starling’s scenario.
Yet both Starling and Nebraska football now move on, with others assuming the relationship was deeper than what it really was in the first place. That’s the common scenario when Scott Boras is involved.
Back in June the Kansas City Royals asked Bubba Starling to the dance and after waiting for a period of two months, Kansas City finally has their date in the first around draft choice.
While it was a tough night on the field for the Royals, the fans and the front office are certainly celebrating as the Royals capped off a great day of deadline deals by signing the Gardner-Edgerton (Kansas) High School product to $7.5 million deal that will make Starling property of the Kansas City organization. John Heyman of Sports Illustrated first tweeted the deal. Keith Law first reported the money involved.
The 6'4" 190 lb athlete is quite the physical specimen and already looks the part of a major leaguer. In terms of projection, Starling has the highest ceiling of anyone selected in this year's draft and the potential to not only be a solid power hit, but also showcase a glove in the outfield that is well above average. As noted before, some have projected him most like Reds outfielder Drew Stubbs in terms of physical attributes.
We'll certainly have more on the newest Royals addition Bubba Starling in upcoming days.
Things are starting to come in at a rapid pace now as the Royals made a big surprise signing in 16th rounder Jack Lopez.. Lopez, 5'10" 175 lbs is a shortstop that hails from Deltona, Florida. Credit for breaking this story goes to avid Royals fan Greg Schaum of Pine Tar Press. Jim Callis of Baseball America confirmed the report. Lopez's contract was for $750,000.
Considered somewhat of a pipe dream for the Royals to sign Lopez, he has all the tools to play shortstop and recently was named MVP of the Connie Mack World Series.
Angel Herrera who is the coach of Lopez's summer team had this to say about the young prospect (per Christopher Stock of InsideTheU)-
"I think his best baseball is ahead of him," Herrera said. "As he gets stronger and older, there’s no doubt in my mind he’s going to have a chance to play in the big leagues one day."
Lopez's father is currently the bullpen coach for the Cincinnati Reds.
With the recent announcement, Kansas City has now signed 21 of their first 25 draft choices, and the biggest prize may be yet to come.
Baseball America's Jim Callis tweeted that the Royals have come to terms with third round selection Bryan Brickhouse on a $1.5 million contract. This easily marks the highest signing amount the club has given out thus far in the 2011 major league baseball draft.
Brickhouse, a 6'2' 190 lb right-handed pitcher comes from The Woodlands, Texas and signed with the Royals instead of accepting a scholarship to North Carolina. He fastball was clocked at 92 during the summer of 2010, and has stretched that to a reported mid 90's fastball in recent months.
Perfect Game named him the 12th best overall prospect in the state of Texas, which included both high school and college players. If you were to just look at high school players, Brickhouse was ranked the second best high school pitcher, only trailing Kyle Crick who was a first round sandwich pick by the Giants.
The Woodlands is a high school program known for pitching talent as Kyle Drabek and Jameson Taillon are both alums of the school.
The recommended slot for were Brickhouse was chosen was $358,200. Clearly the Royals spending $1.5 million is an indication they remain serious about developing and maintaining a talented farm system.
Though Bubba Starling hasn't signed yet, it has been a busy day for the Kansas City Royals front office, as they announced they have signed 30th round selection, pitcher Christian Binford. Binford who goes by the first name Mark, checks in at 6'7" 235 lbs and is a right-handed pitcher from Mercersburg Prep in Pennsylvania.
Binford has Tommy John surgery in 2009 and was committed to play next year for the University of Virginia.
This past season Binford threw 52 innings for his high school team and was 8-1 with a 0.40 ERA, including 74 strikeouts and four walks.
Things are starting to wind down, but Royals fan should still be hoping that Bubba Starling and third round slection Bryan Brickhouse are added to the fold later in the evening.
Stay tuned for more updates as the clock winds down closer to 11 pm (CST) when the deadline passes for players to sign with their major league ball clubs.
In the latest edition of Bubba Watch, Jon Bois has posted a poll on the SB Nation College Football home page asking voters if Bubba Starling should play college football at Nebraska or sign with the Kansas City Royals. As of the moment, 65% of voters believe it would be in Starling's best interest to sign with the Royals. Currently the poll has just over 160 votes.
The column is very tongue in cheek, but Bois' comrade Spencer Hall does point out that Nebraska isn't exactly known for producing NFL caliber quarterbacks. Only two University of Nebraska alums have ever been a primary starting quarterbacks for an NFL team for at least four seasons. The last was Vince Ferragomo who started for the Rams for four seasons in an NFL career that spanned 1977-1986.
Clearly Starling is a superb athlete in both sports, but it still likely will be hard to pass up the money from the hometown Royals in the end. However I wouldn't expect any news on the situation to come out until closer to the 11 pm (CST) deadline this evening.
Another draft pick is signed today as the Royals have inked fourth round draft choice, Kyle Smith of Santaluces High School in Lake Worth, Florida. Smith, a commit to the University of Florida is a 6'0" 175 lb right-handed pitcher and features a low 90's fastball that has potential to add some mileage as he gets older. Jim Callis of Baseball America also liked his curveball as well. The deal is for $695,000 which is well above the slot recommendation for where Smith was drafted. Fourth round slot for his draft selection is $227,700.
As of now, the Royals are still in talks with Bubba Starling, the fifth overall choice and Bryan Brickhouse, a pitcher taken in the third round from a high school in Texas.
Otherwise 11 of the first 15 picks have now signed on the dotted line with the Royals. Eighth round pick Evan Beal will remain committed to South Carolina, while 12th round selection Adam Schemenauer will be headed to the University of Louisville. Both prospects are pitchers.
Stay tuned throughout the day for more coverage on Royals draft signings.
It didn't take long for the Royals to receive their first piece of pleasant news on Monday as Illinois high school pitcher Jake Junis has agreed to a $675,000 contract with the Royals. In signing with Kansas City, Junis will bypass a scholarship to North Carolina State.
To put that into perspective, the Royals think very highly of Junis, as his contract was not farm from the $750,000 that second round pick Cam Gallagher received from Kansas City.
The 6'3" right-handed Junis throws an 88-91 mph fastball, with a developing curveball in his arsenal as well. Per Prep Baseball Report, Junis was ranked the fourth best high school senior in the state of Illinois.
I've seen Junis' weight listed in a range from 195 to 220 lbs, so it appears he has put on weight in the last year.
This is shaping up to be quite a year for the Royals and in the international market if they can come to agreements with Bubba Starling, Bryan Brickhouse, and Kyle Smith today as well. Junis is a solid addition to that puzzle for the future.
It’s signing day. The final day is here for the Kansas City Royals to sign their first round choice (and any others remaining for that matter) and Bubba Starling is either going to walk away from $7 million-plus to hopefully play quarterback for the Nebraska Cornhuskers as they head toward the Big Ten, or he’ll sign on the dotted line after months of silence and take his place on a minor league bus somewhere in the Royals farm system. I’d bet the house on the latter.
Scott Boras is the agent and we’ve discussed already that the Royals have a history with the polarizing agent. He also represented Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer, and both players are now with the major league club. Starling is a local product with fantastic talents (and a sincere love) for both sports. It’s just that one will give him an instant shot to produce and give him millions of dollars for it. The other comes with being buried on the depth chart and a freshman experience in college.
Boras’ negotations always go down to the wire. It was even recently reported that the Royals hadn’t even extended an official offer as of last week. Both sides know there’s a time to meet on the playground, so to speak, so no one is going to bother showing up even a minute before. That’s because the other party won’t be there anyway.
So signing day will finally bring all of the talks and negotiations that could have and should have been happening until now. Starling will be a Royal in the end, and all of the posturing and supposed leverage to attend the University of Nebraska has all been for naught. No matter what you’ve heard, Starling was destined to be a Royal the moment his name was called in June.
Some teams skip draft picks because his name is attached to them. That’s because sports agent Scott Boras always demands the highest of price tags and isn’t afraid of an ugly negotiation to get it. Yet the Kansas City Royals, of all teams, don’t seem to mind Boras’ attachment to a prospect. In fact, they’ve been linked to a surprising number over the years — good news for fans wanting to know if they’ll find a way to officially sign Bubba Starling rather than lose him to the Nebraska Cornhusker football program.
Both Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer are the cornerstones of the infield for most of the next decade for the Royals, and both were represented by Boras in their negotiations after coming out of high school. The Royals successfully coordinated successful deals for both players and certainly Boras and Dayton Moore have gained some familiarity by this time. Thus, it’s not big news that the Royals hadn’t even extended Starling an official offer within the last few days.
The Royals and Boras both know how this works — they let the hourglass drip down to the point of a few sands left and then they strike a deal. It will be somewhere in the range of $7-10 million, and the better guess is somewhere toward the latter. Starling can use the leverage of going to Nebraska as a quarterback as his leverage, so he’ll most likely get $9 million at least. For the Royals, they knew what they were getting into when they submitted his name in the first place.
The expectation is that the Royals will have a quick announcement on Monday that they signed a deal and an official press conference on Tuesday. Until then, just expect silence to be the answer given the history between the two. Luckily the Royals are comfortable with that silence, unlike other teams.
It's not compelling. It's not interesting. At this point, the only word to describe the ongoing negotiations (or make that, waiting game) between Bubba Starling and the Kansas City Royals is "predictable." That's because Scott Boras is involved as Starling's agent which means everything will be drawn out down to the wire, costing the Royals millions and costing Starling the chance to play significant summer baseball this year.
The threat is that Starling could head to the Nebraska Cornhuskers as a quarterback recruit and follow his love of football. However, that would cost him millions of dollars -- likely up to $9 or 10 million -- and it's hard to imagine many 18-year-olds consulting with a mega-agent doing that. After all, not only would Starling risk injury and the chance to play baseball professionally, but his agent would also be risking financially as well, hoping that Starling becomes an NFL-level quarterback -- a tall order for a guy who just walked for his high school graduation.
The nearly-guaranteed reality at this point despite any quotes that you hear is that Starling will sign on the dotted line at the stroke of midnight (or somewhere thereabouts) on August 15 and find a home in the Kansas City minor league system. And we will yawn all the way knowing that it was likely to play out like this since the beginning.
Will he or won’t he? That’s been the primary question facing Bubba Starling for the last two months, and he has approximately 9 days left to make his decision before it will be made for him. The decision is between playing football for the Nebraska Cornhuskers as they enter the Big 10 as a quarterback recruit or whether to play for the Kansas City Royals as their first round selection at No. 5 overall. Thus far, he’s been spending his time in offseason workouts with the Cornhuskers.
But now, Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini has noted that Starling is disappearing officially from the program until he makes his decision — the date of which is due August 15. That’s the final day that Starling can sign with the Royals and receive what will no doubt be a fine payday — around $8 million or more. That’s a lot of money for anyone to turn down, regardless of what else might be under consideration.
Starling is a gifted athlete in both football and baseball and it’s that dual love and ability that has him in this position now. With his departure from the team environment of Nebraska, we say that’s a good sign that the Royals and their incredible offer will most likely win out in the end.
Like many other places around the country, the Nebraska Cornhuskers have recently opened up training camp in anticipation of the fall football season. However one of the newest quarterbacks, Bubba Starling, is being held out of practice at the moment until his future with the Kansas City Royals is determined.
Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska in recent days and was on hand when Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini spoke about his prized recruit and the decision to keep Starling off of the 105-man roster for the moment-
"The situation is normal," Pelini said. "Obviously, he’s got a lot at risk, so we communicated with the family and decided the best way to go about it."
It's not too uncommon for multi-sport athletes having to decide about beginning their baseball career after high school or attending college to play football or basketball, however it is indeed a rare situation to see a high school baseball player taken in the top five of the baseball draft and thinking about the possibility of attending college instead.
One person who has been through a similar, yet completely different situation is current Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson, who was drafted in the 41st round of the 2007 June baseball draft decided to pass up baseball and attend North Carolina State where he went on to have a spectacular three-year career for the Wolfpack on the football field and also enjoyed much sucess on baseball diamond.
Because Wilson was taken in the later rounds of the draft and the money was not nearly as good, Wilson decided to look to the football field and the pursuit of a college education.
Fast forward to 2010 and Wilson was again eligible to be drafted, this time being selected by the Colorado Rockies in the 4th round. He would this time sign while also remaining as the quarterback at North Carolina State. After the 2010 football season there was a falling out at his previous university which had lead to his transfer to Wisconsin were he will likely be the starting quarterback of an experienced Badgers squad that many deem in the national title hunt this fall.
Seemingly lost in the headlines of his football transfer, Wilson also played 61 games this spring for Ashville, Colorado's Class A affiliate in the South Atlantic League.
That is where Wilson and Starling are different. Being a top five selection in the first round, Starling will have to make his decision of which road he wants to travel down, and that decision will have to be made by the signing deadline which is 11 pm on August 15th. With being such a high baseball draft selection, it will be hard to pass down his hometown team and the potential millions of dollars involved. However Starling is advised by Scott Boras who is known for not showing his poker hand until the final minute, which leaves Starling having to decide at the age of 19 which sport he loves most.
It’s the news that Dayton Moore and Kansas City Royals fans will not want to hear: those closest to Bubba Starling seem to be pointing him toward staying on as a freshman quarterback recruit at the University of Nebraska. The choice before him is to sign for at least $8 million (assumed) with the Royals as their first-round choice or try to catch on with one of the favorite teams to win the Big 10. Simply put, love of football or love of baseball (with great amounts of money attached).
The Royals offer could rise to $10 million in the end, but after a certain amount of money, it doesn’t matter. In other words, if Starling were going to turn down several million to go to college and play football at a major program, what difference would a few more million make? When you’re 18, it’s hard to feel anything but invincible and, even worse for Royals fans, it seems those around him are pushing him to follow his football dreams.
Bubba’s sister Jamie is quoted as saying, “I want him to go to Nebraska. We’ve never had that. We’re not KU fans. We’re not K-State fans. We’ve never had a team. Since he signed, we’re Cornhuskers. Let’s go. This is awesome.” His high school football coach, Marvin Diener, says the same. His parents are maintaining a supportive attitude throughout, but Starling is already on campus and entrenched with his teammates in off-season workouts. The draw might just be enough.
It’s hard to imagine a kid walking away from millions when it also involves doing something that he loves, but this is not without precedent. Just last season, Karsten Whitson left the millions that San Diego was offering on the table to sign with the University of Florida. These kids know that if they stay healthy and perform to expectations, the millions will be there now or later. And that’s the gamble the Royals took when signing Starling in the first place.
Browsing twitter this morning I came across the feed of Sean Callahan, who covers Nebraska football for HuskerOnline.com. Per Callahan, Starling is reportedly looking for $10 million to sign with the Kansas City Royals. The Royals are at the moment offering $7.5 million to sign the former Gardner-Edgerton star player.
I had not been able to find the information Callahan is referring to at the KCStar.com's website, but it certainly is news that will make Royals fan nervous. Of course Callahan is going to use his words wisely in making it sound hopeful for many of the Nebraska fans he serves.
At the moment I don't know how much discussion Dayton Moore has had with Starling or his agent but you can be certain the Royals front office will put on the full court press with Starling once the calenders turns over to the month of August.
Only twice since 2004 have the Royals signed their first round draft choice before August. At this point I wouldn't worry too much Kansas City fans.
As much as everyone else is obsessing over it, it seems that the people who matter most are simply committed to the present. Bubba Starling was the Royals first selection in the MLB First-Year Entry Draft and the fifth overall selection. The talented outfielder immediately drew a lot of buzz and excitement not only for his local ties but his tremendous talent that has scouts drooling over the possibilities. But Starling is not just a baseball player, he’s also a football player as well, and that has brought more drama than what comes with a typical high-profile signing.
Specifically, Bubba Starling is now working out with the Nebraska Cornhusker football team this summer until he is signed by the Royals. The deadline for player signings from the amateur draft is August 15, which means another three or so weeks until it comes down to the wire and provides any pressure to make a deal. Until then, the fans must sit and wait and the Royals have to hope nothing happens injury-wise between now and then.
The question for Starling is often posed on whether he’s serious about accepting a football scholarship to Nebraska to play quarterback or whether it’s just a ploy for negotiations with the Royals. Yet from recent quotes from his new offensive coordinator, Tim Beck, it seems both coordinator and player are staying focused on the right things. Sam McKewon recently got a quote from Beck about Starling’s presence for the Omaha World-Herald and it seems as if the focus is on what’s right in front of him.
McKewon writes, "Beck said quarterback Bubba Starling has been “working his tail off” since his early July arrival in Lincoln. He doesn’t press Starling for a timetable on when he might choose between college football and pro baseball, where he was drafted by the Kansas City Royals. ‘I don’t bother him about it,’ Beck said. ‘Everybody else does.’"
Perhaps that’s a good for the Royals knowing that if they’re able to sign Starling, which most believe they should be able to do given the lucrative nature of the contract he’d most likely sign, that’s a sign that Starling can focus on the task at hand and not get caught up in the hype. Certainly if he can do it under such an intense microscope now, continuing that same dedication and focus in the minor leagues will be a piece of cake.
The ongoing saga for top Royals draft choice Bubba Starling will not find any resolution in the next couple of weeks for those curious whether the talented local outfielder will choose to follow the baseball path laid before him with several million dollars or his football dreams at the University of Nebraska as a quarterback recruit. Starling's already on campus with the Cornhuskers working out this summer, and it's possibly just a ploy to leverage the Royals and Dayton Moore into a more profitable contract. However, it's possible he falls in love with the sport and his team and stays put. Then again, no one will know anything soon -- at least that's what Moore believes will happen.
In a recent interview with MLB.com, Moore says, "It'll be an August 15th thing, same as every year." That's a safe assumption given the circumstances surrounding the choice and the typical behavior for high draft choices with other options. Yet it's not all posturing as last year San Diego suffered the fate of losing Karston Whitson, their No. 9 overall selection, to a scholarship at the University of Florida.
The Royals just have to hope between now and then that Starling realizes the money is ripe for the taking and that the Royals are a team on the rise. It's a hometown kid's dream come true in many respects, but only Starling knows what's important to him. In the end, we just have to wait and see who wins out.
It's just a step in negotiations. Each side -- both the prospect Bubba Starling and the Kansas City Royals front office -- are going to do what they can maximize their side financially in making a deal. If the Royals hope to sign Bubba Starling before the August 15th deadline, they're going to have to pony up some big money deal -- probably more than Drew Pomeranz earned last year as the No. 5 overall selection in the 2010 MLB Draft with the Cleveland Indians, which was $2.65 million.
For now, Starling is playing his cards early by announcing he's headed to the University of Nebraska to begin unofficial player workouts as he assembles with other Cornhusker players. He's committed as a quarterback -- that's just how gifted this kid is athletically -- and he loves football. But he also loves baseball and it's clear there's immediate big money there for the taking. Thus, there are choices to make -- on both sides. For the Royals, the move to Nebraska by Starling should encourage some expediency on their part. The reasons:
1. Atmosphere - The reality for Starling if he signs with the Royals is that he'll be in for long bus rides and crappy clubhouses for the next couple of years. At Nebraska, he'll already become ingratiated with fellow players, make friends around the campus, and begin to see what it would physically feel like to lead the team. The starting QB spot won't be handed to Starling at any time in his playing career there, but the fame that comes with a nationally recognized program that could play for a BCS Championship could create stars in the eyes before the Royals strike.
2. Lack of Supervision - While there are conditioning and strength coaches on hand at the player workouts and the rest of the coaching staff arriving for August 6th official practices, the Royals have no control over what Starling will or will not be doing during his time at Nebraska. It's human nature to picture the worst case scenario when we have no control over a situation, and you better believe that Dayton Moore and company are picturing Starling running through college football workouts with their rose-colored glasses far removed from their eyes.
3. Stoking The Wrong Fire - Starling loves two sports. He also excels at two sports. But until he signs his contract, he can only stoke one fire -- and the one he's currently choosing is to learn the next level of football. It's possible that one fire overwhelms another and that Starling simply goes with which one is most exciting to him for now -- money or no money.
The reality is that Starling will likely sign, since most guys who cry foul during the negotiating process ends up capitulating to the deal in front of them in the final minutes leading up to the deadline. But each year has that anomaly, that player who leaves it on the table for one reason or another. There's no need for the Royals to give Starling any reason to do so.
Bubba Starling would really have to love the sport of football to pass up the opportunity that's currently in front of him. When it comes down to it, that's what the Kansas City Royals are hoping Starling realizes when faced with the option to not sign with the club that selected him at No. 5 in the recent MLB Draft.
The star 6-5 outfielder is known for having projectable Major League talent across the board -- from power to speed to fielding and back -- so it was no surprise to see him taken so early in the draft. Rumors persisted that even the Pittsburgh Pirates at the top of the overall order might take him at No. 1. However, the question that also lingered was that Starling had already committed to the University of Nebraska football program. Now that the Royals have selected him, it's a showdown to see which sport he's really committed to -- one with August two-a-days and a few years from becoming a starter, the other offering millions of dollars.
How much money would Starling leave on the table? Last year, the Cleveland Indians selected Ole Miss lefty Drew Pomeranz at No. 5 overall and went down to the final minutes before settling on a $2.65 million contract. The Royals selected at No. 4 and took Christian Colon and signed him early to a $2.7 million deal. Starling could beat both of those and settle for just south of $3 million. Perhaps he could even cross that threshold. But would he truly be willing to head to conditioning and walk away permanently from that sort of money until he's possibly drafted again in a few years? I doubt it.
The reality is that every party recognizes the dance right now -- holding any ounce of leverage to go one way or the other. Agents and front offices will be locked in these sorts of encounters for just over a month until the August 15th signing deadline appears. Then you will find out who is really willing to walk away and who was playing all along. The San Diego Padres found out that Karsten Whitson wasn't joking at No. 9 overall when he said he was willing to go to Florida. The starter threw in this year's College World Series and should be another top flight pick when he's eligible again.
But here's guessing Starling is a late summer addition to the Royals farm system, and that they'll get at least a glimpse of what all the fuss is about.
The very reason the Kansas City Royals selected Bubba Starling in the recent Major League Baseball Draft might be the very reason they lose out on him.
Dayton Moore had an incredible opportunity to add a frontline player at No. 5 overall for the Royals, and most assumed he would pass over the question marks surrounding Starling and his commitment to play at quarterback for the University of Nebraska in favor of a seasoned college pitcher -- one who would make a high debut and work his way to the majors rather quickly. Think Mike Leake for the Cincinnati Reds last season or the Arizona Diamondbacks recent selection of Trevor Bauer. But Starling's local ties and incredible five-tool potential provided enough bait for Moore to bite.
But now Starling's multiple options are coming into play with the announcement that he's headed to the Nebraska campus for conditioning workouts with the team. Official practices do not begin until August 6, nine days before the signing deadline before the Royals lose Starling. The possibility of injury and lack of oversight for Starling while at Nebraska might be other causes for concern for the Royals.
Negotiations such as these often come down to the last minute a la Bryce Harper, and Starling might be playing some contractual chicken with the Royals with a move like this. But you can guarantee this doesn't make anyone within the Royals organization happy whatsoever.
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