Dayton Moore once said "there's no reason why we can't win ten of the next fifteen games" and voila, that's exactly what happened! So you should feel good when he explains that former first round pick Bubba Starling just needs more time to produce, so don't get too down on the kid just yet.
"He’s still a puppy," Moore said. "He’s very young."
This explains the Royals coaching strategy with Starling this year. Every time he strikes out, a Royals coach will hit him on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper and yell "bad Bubba!"
The 21-year old centerfielder hit .241/.329/.398 with 13 HR 63 RBI, 22 steals and 128 strikeouts in 498 plate appearances for low A Lexington. We knew Bubba would be a raw prospect, as he grew up playing against less than stellar competition in nearby Gardner, Kansas. But he's already a bit old for his level. Should we concerned if he has to spend a lot of time seasoning in the minor leagues?
In that vein, Moore threw out an interesting name as comparison.
"What, did Torii Hunter spend six years in the minor leagues?"
Hunter was a slow developer, but as beat writer Andy McCullough points out, Hunter was 17 when he began his pro career, Starling was 19. Hunter also struggled to hit at most of his stops in the minor leagues, and made the big leagues mostly through his glove, then grew to become a quality hitter. Hunter also didn't strike out in a quarter of his plate appearances as Bubba has. Is Hunter the outlier or a path to stardom that Bubba should follow?
This is a pretty big year for Bubba. He'll likely begin the year at High A Wilmington, a notoriously tough atmosphere to hit. He'll be 22 in August, the same age Wil Myers was when he played his rookie season in the big leagues. If he can show some real progress, there may be hope he can turn the corner. If he continues to struggle, he could be left in the junkyard of busted prospects with Dee Brown, Hugh Walker, and Juan LeBron.