Royals Start Bubba Starling Slowly

KANSAS CITY—Bubba Starling, like first-round picks Mike Moustakas in 2007 and Eric Hosmer in 2008, came down to the final seconds of the deadline before agreeing to sign with the Royals.

Unlike Moustakas and Hosmer, however, Starling was not immediately dispatched to Rookie-level Idaho Falls. Instead, he will wait until instructional league to get on the field.

"He hasn't been doing anything," scouting director Lonnie Goldberg said. "Right now he's not in baseball shape. You're talking about a kid that had been doing football stuff. There's no sense for us to put him at risk injury-wise. He's an extremely competitive kid. You tell him he's going to play a game he's going to go as hard as he can. So we're going to try to strip him of the opportunity to do that and just get him prepared for instructs."

The Royals dispatched Starling to their complex in Surprise, Ariz., for what Goldberg termed a three-week "prep course: get in shape, get with our trainers, get with our strength and conditions guys, get up to speed."

Starling, the fifth overall pick in the draft out of Gardner-Edgerton High in Gardner, Kan., received a Royals' record signing bonus of $7.5 million spread over three years as a dual-sport athlete. Starling had committed to play quarterback for Nebraska and had reported in July to Lincoln.

The athletic, 6-foot-5 Starling was also an all-state basketball player.

"I can pretty much do anything you want me to do on the field," he said. "As far as the outfield, I can run down any kind of fly ball. I read it real well.

"My batting, there is some stuff that can be worked on because when you're playing three sports in high school, you don't get to concentrate on one sport like some other guys do. I can't wait to see what I can do with the great instructors in Arizona and be playing one sport all year round. I just think I could be pretty good."


• The Royals signed third-round pick Bryan Brickhouse for $1.5 million. Brickhouse was 7-2, 1.08 with 129 strikeouts in 72 innings for The Woodlands High in Texas.

• The Royals went way over slot to sign three latter-round draft picks at the deadline—shortstop Jack Lopez (16th round, $750,000) and righthanders Jake Junis (29th round, $675,000); and Christian Binford (30th round, $575,000).