Jason Heyward. Stephen Strasburg. Bryce Harper. Mike Trout.
These four once-highly touted prospects have crossed the threshold to the major leagues with exciting fanfare.
Next on the radar is Bubba Starling.
Drafted fifth overall in the 2011 MLB draft, Starling has completed his first professional season for the Burlington Royals in the Rookie Appalachian League.
While Starling still has room for growth, he nonetheless had a solid first campaign. It was a campaign that saw the Royals advance to the Appalachian League Championship Series.
Through 53 games, Starling batted .275 with 10 home runs and 33 RBI. He also had eight doubles, two triples and an OBP/SLG/OPS of .371/.485/.856.
Respectable numbers. The hype machine for Starling is beginning to take hold, starting with Bob Sutton of the Times-News in Burlington North Carolina.
From Sutton, In Star Power, Bubba Brings it:
[Starling] arrived [in Burlington] in mid-June as the most prized player to wear a Burlington uniform in at least two decades. And if you excuse Manny Ramirez’s presence in the Cleveland Indians organization—given this era of Internet craze regarding such prospects—there might never have been such a ballyhooed player to wear the home uniform at Burlington Athletic Stadium.
It’s not unusual for Starling, who’s 6-foot-5 and a casts an imposing figure, to be stopped repeatedly by autograph seekers as he heads to the field. And while most of his teammates have retreated to the clubhouse after games, he remains behind to take care of the requests.
Royals fans have got to be excited for the future. For adding Starling to a pipeline of young talent (to include 2012 minor-league Player of the Year, Wil Myers) bodes well for an organization on the rise.