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Royals outfielder Bubba Starling announces his retirement

The former first-round pick ends on a high note in the Olympics.

Kansas City Royals portraits John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS via Getty Images

Royals outfielder Bubba Starling announced his retirement in a post on Facebook this week. The 29-year old played in 27 games with Triple-A Omaha this year, but left the team this summer to represent Team USA in the Summer Olympics in Japan, earning a Silver Medal.

Starling excelled as a three-sport athlete at Gardner-Edgerton High School in the Kansas City metro area. He was one of the top-ranked baseball draft prospects in 2011, and his hometown Royals made him the fifth-overall pick in the draft. Starling had multiple Division I offers to play football, but he turned them down to sign a $7.5 million bonus, the largest in club history.

Starling performed well in his first two pro seasons but struggled with high strikeout rates at higher levels. His speed and defense gave the front office hopes he could rise quickly to the big leagues, but his bat didn’t quite develop as they would have hoped, and some injury setbacks added further obstacles.

Starling finally reached the big leagues in 2019 at age 26, receiving semi-regular playing time. He played in 91 games with the Royals for two seasons, hitting .204/.246/.298 with five home runs.

Bubba Starling didn’t have quite the career many envisioned when he was drafted, but he is one of just a small percentage of athletes who reached the big leagues, and is also an Olympic medalist. We wish Bubba the best of luck in his future endeavors!