When the uber-talented, multi-sport high schooler Bubba Starling was sitting there at the fifth pick of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft, the Kansas City Royals knew they had their guy in sights. It actually toed the line of fate.
While it was thought by some that they might have drafted high school pitcher Dylan Bundy (Baltimore Orioles) had he been available when their turn came up, The Royals did right by the entire city by not letting Starling out of their own backyard.
The last time this happened, someone by the name of José Alberto Pujols Alcántara (better known as Albert Pujols) went on to have the best start to a career of anyone in Major League Baseball history.
Although the chances of Starling replicating Pujols' exact narration are parked somewhere between slim and none, the precise reason why the Royals drafted him was to give fans and a city a glimpse of what might have been a decade ago.
But as Starling currently calls Burlington (Royals rookie league affiliate) home at the elder age of 20, his development will certainly be on a very deliberate path. How patient Royals fans are will be determined by how the franchise's current youth movement ushers in the next generation.
Starling has always been the old kid. After not playing out the 2011 season following his draft selection, he will probably hold that title as he makes his way through the Royals' farm system.
Starling's raw talent is apparent, but there is no way to tell how that will eventually translate until we have a larger sample size. He's currently batting .287/.388/.522 with six home runs, 20 RBI, 23 runs scored and five stolen bases in just 115 at bats.
All eyes are on Starling and the pressure will only become heavier. Being the hometown kid, fans will keep things in perspective, but with the reflection of Albert Pujols in their peripheral.
With that said, fans do not see a fork in the road for Starling's career. There is no boom or bust. Fans just want the boom, and lots of it. But they must realize they might have to wait a while.
When eventually ready, the Royals have zero reason not to pencil Starling in at center field. They drafted him for the very reason to showcase him in front of the hometown fans, and Starling gave up a football scholarship at the University of Nebraska to do just that.
In return, Starling's job is to be for Kansas City what they missed out on with Pujols.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!