Cubs Have Eyes on Future Star(ling)

A few days ago, I wrote about some draft possibilities for the Cubs in next month's amateur draft.  Baseball America just came out with their first mock draft and they have the Cubs selecting outfielder and freak athlete Bubba Starling out of Gardner Edgington High School in Kansas.  I put Starling at the top of my list because this is a player the Cubs have zoned in on in their scouting efforts.  He's an exciting prospect that would have the Cubs farm system buzzing.  Keith Law of ESPN called him, "an obnoxiously talented baseball player". If drafted by the Cubs, Bubba Starling would instantly become their #1 prospect.

Bubba Starling, OF, High School (Kansas)

Starling is considered a 5 tool player and has been compared to both Carl Crawford and Josh Hamilton...

1) Arm - Starling can throw in the 90s and could make it as a pitcher if he  (or the team that drafts him) chooses that route.  He can also throw a football 55 yards -- from his knees.
2) Speed - Starling has been clocked at 4.36 seconds in the 40 year dash and has been called by some coaches as the fastest player they have ever seen.
3) Fielding - With his great speed and rocket arm, Starling has all the tools to be a Gold Glove outfielder.
4) Hitting - The tool he needs most work on.  He has a very sweet swing but he does have some holes.  He's going to need some hitting instruction.
5) Power - Despite his great speed, Starling is no slap hitter.  He is a big hombre at 6'5" and 200 lbs of solid muscle.  He generates tremendous bat speed.  Of all his tools, power is his best.  He has the potential to be the best power hitter in this year's draft class.

So why in the heck would he last until the 9th pick?

1) Because Starling is such a good athlete that he has been offered a
scholarship to play QB at the University of Nebraska.  He may not be
easy to sign because the man has options galore.  He's even good enough
to play basketball at the Division 1 level.  Most think his best sport
is baseball, however, and the Cubs haven't been shy about luring
athletes away from football in the past.
2) This draft is rich in top
college pitching.  It's the safer route to take and many teams will be
looking to build with pitching.
3) His hitting is a bit raw and he
will need some development in that area.  A great athlete doesn't always
make a great ballplayer.  See my Cubs all-time worst draft picks and check out the name Earl Cunningham.

The
upside to Starling, though, is so intriguing that some team will take a
chance on him and hope he develops into the games next superstar.  He's more than a high ceiling player -- his potential is through the roof. The
Cubs have lacked that type of player for a while now but, come next month, they
could have a couple of stars -- Starlin Castro and Bubba Starling --
that fans can get excited about for the next decade.

Comments

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  • I saw the same article by Law, and I can see Starling falling to the Cubs, due to Starling's big demands. The one thing I like about Tom Ricketts is his hints that he is committed to scouting and development. I can see him giving the green light to Hendry to sign him, no natter what

  • In reply to rodeosteve:

    That would really add a bona-fide blue-chip prospect to the Cubs. Brett Jackson is a nice prospect and a possible all-star, but Starling would give the Cubs a potential superstar.

  • In reply to rodeosteve:

    Dang John, it would be super sweet to land this kid. You've really got me excited about him. Plug him in the lineup right next to Castro & Pujols!

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    He's an exciting prospect and if it weren't for teams being scared off by his potential demands to buy him away from football, there would be no chance he'd fall to the Cubs. If you go strictly by ability, he's one of the top 3 players in this class -- possibly even the #1 player based on pure talent and long term potential. If they don't get him (Kansas City may roll the dice on him at #4), the Cubs will still get a top college pitcher, so they're pretty set as far as getting top-shelf talent. But no pick would be as exciting as Starling, in my opinion.

  • In reply to walrus:

    they could definately use a blue chipper

  • In reply to rodeosteve:

    Jackson, Starling, & Colvin...hey that's a nice outfield

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Another guy to keep your eye on for the OF is Matt Sczcur. Fastest current player in the system and the ability to hit .300 and draw walks...could be a high OBP guy at the top of the order. On top of all that his mental makeup is through the roof. One way or another, the Cubs should have one of the more athletic outfields in the majors in a few years.

  • In reply to walrus:

    he's the guy that played football at Vandy right?

    What position did he play?

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Yep...Wide Receiver (at Villanova, though), he would probably would have been about a 3rd round draft pick. He didn't cost huge money like Samardzija did or Starling would though.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I live near Gardner, KS and went to see Starling play. He is legit. Rocket arm, fast and strong. He is also a very good kid from what is heard around the city about him. However, there is NO WAY the Cubs get him. I wish they could, but the Royals will not let him get by them. Gardner is a suburb of Kansas City and Starling is a local legend already. He will not fall past the Royals. The Royals already let Pujols get out of KC, they will not let Starling.

  • In reply to garykral:

    Thanks for the local scoop on Starling! K.C. is my biggest fear. Hard to pass up a hometown star and they really have focused on their farm system of late. Despite how good he is, I don't see any other team taking him taking a chance on him.

    A few years back, KC and the Cubs were scouting the same players and the Cubs were afraid KC would take Josh Vitters -- but at the last minute KC changed their mind and took the harder to sign Mike Moustakas, who so far looks like the much better prospect between the two. The Moustakas pick proves KC won't necessarily be scared off by bonus demands, so you could well be right...

  • In reply to garykral:

    The good John giveth and the garykral taketh away. I'm bummed now :(

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    LOL...it'll either be the Royals or the Cubs who get Starling, I believe. If it's not Starling, my guess as to plan B is Texas fireballer Taylor Jungmann, who has ace potential. He's in my original list of top 10 guys the Cubs will pick and I'll probably write up a more specific profile on him later.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    How about the Diamondbacks in this quality draft, 2 picks in the top 7!

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    They have a chance to really clean up with a couple of top prospects. The thing about that #7 pick though is that it is unprotected. In other words, they won't be compensated if they don't sign that pick. That has most people thinking they'll play it really safe with that second pick and pick a guy they know will sign. That would rule out someone like Starling for them. If I were them I think I'd take two of the college pitchers -- can never have too much pitching and that's about the surest thing in this draft.

  • In reply to walrus:

    well that could help the Cubbies, 1 less chance. You don't think they would consider him at 3 since they have 2 picks ?

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    There's always a chance but Arizona really seems to have zoned in on Danny Hultzen, who is the most polished of the talented college pitching class. Every mock draft I've seen, including the one you linked earlier, has them taking Hultzen. I think the first three picks are just about set in stone. Hultzen's family is said to really want to see him finish college though, so he's risky in terms of signability. If AZ gets a read on him that he won't sign, then all bets are off. My opinion is that he'll sign if he's the #3 pick -- how can you pass up that kind of money? -- with part of the agreement being that AZ pays for him to finish his education down the road.

  • In reply to walrus:

    absolutely, finish college after you throw a couple mil in your bank account and take care of yourself and your family for the rest of your life.

  • In reply to walrus:

    So then there's 4 possible landing spots for Bubba before the Cubs pick at #9
    4-Baltimore
    5-Kansas City
    6-Washington
    8-Cleveland

    Kansas city as you guys mentioned is a strong possibility. Washington after back-to-back #1s overall could add yet another blue chip.

    Besides Kansas city, how likely do you see the other teams considering Starling? From the mocks, seems like everone wants the safe route of college pitchers.

    I don't want to make it seem like its Starling or bust b/c as you norte this is a high quality draft, and they are going to add a very talented prospect, but as you also note, Bubba really stands out fom a talent & raw potential standpoint, and that's what this franchise really needs.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I think you hit the nail on the head. Lots of teams like to play it safe and college pitching is as safe as it gets. But this draft is rare in that the college pitchers also have pretty high ceilings -- so it's not like you're going with a safe, polished pitcher who winds up being a 3rd or 4th starter, a lot of these guys have top of the rotation stuff.

    That being said, you can make a case for any of the above teams taking a shot at Starling. KC we've talked about. Washington is not afraid to spend big money, as it has with Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper -- they're always looking to make a splash. And Cleveland has to feel uncertain about the future of Grady Sizemore.

    It comes down to a guessing game based on a few things 1) each organizations philosophy, 2) where teams are concentrating their heaviest scouting resources and 3) recent draft history of each team.

    With Baltimore it's about philosophy. McPhail has always believed you draft and develop pitching. His rationale is just not to build a strong stable of arms, which he's done -- but that you could always trade surplus pitching for a bat or two (as they did when they acquired Adam Jones and 3 other players for Erik Bedard).

    Cleveland is historically conservative with their first pick. They haven't selected a high school player with their first pick since 2001 -- and they haven't picked a high schooler with a top 10 pick since 1994.

    Washington is similar in that they often go the college route -- and the fact that pitching depth is their biggest weakness also plays a factor. This was a team picking from the scrap heap last offseason. Still, they may be the wild card for the reasons mentioned earlier.

    In the end, I think if KC passes Starling will fall to the Cubs -- he fits all the Cubs criteria as well. They haven't been afraid to pick high school players high (Josh Vitters, Lou Montanez, Corey Patterson, Kerry Wood) under Hendry. They tend to value athleticism. They need power bats in their system. They've also scouted him heavier than any of the teams ahead of them except for KC who, of course, reside in the same area. He's a fit for the Cubs and what they usually do -- but he's also a fit for KC...so we'll have to keep our fingers crossed!

  • In reply to walrus:

    good stuff, appreciate it

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    ESPNs Keith Law just did a mock draft where the Cubs get Starling. Says everyone's telling him KC will take a pitcher.

    He mentions two new names for the Cubs as well... a high school RHP named Archie Bradley and UConn OF George Springer. Springer is another 5 tool talent...has 30HR potential and fast enough to steal 15-20 bases. Also a good OBP guy...At one point he was considered a top 5 type pick...

  • In reply to walrus:

    hmmmm, I like it. You don't see smokescreens as much in baseball. Dang I wish the draft was tomorrow! Can't wait. A little more than 2 weeks I guess. I wish we had 10 1st round picks too ;)

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I hope I am wrong on it because he has all the makings of a star OF, but it would be a publicity nightmare for the Royals if they pass on him. The Royals have not backed away from drafting hard sign guys. They took Luke Hochevar, Aaron Crowe and Moustakas. All three of them were supposed to be hard to sign and they singed them. Starling has Boras as an adviser so he will be ready for a big payday. If he doesn't like the money he will go play QB and baseball at Nebraska. The kids is AMAZING on the football field as well. He easily runs a 4.4 forty and he is 6'5" 210 pounds. I played football with some pretty impressive specimens in the Arena Football League and Starling is every bit as impressive. The thinking here in KC is that the Royals will be lucky if Starling falls to them. I will be really happy if the Cubs can get him though.

  • In reply to garykral:

    Good points -- the Boras factor is huge. That may work against KC though. If they draft Starling, Boras will have them over a barrel. As much as it would be a publicity nightmare for them to pass on Starling, it would be far worse to draft him and not sign him. Boras knows that and he may try to squeeze record money out of KC. Will it be enough for them to pass on a hometown hero for a safer pick? Maybe not. But I do think there is a possibility that KC picks someone else.

  • In reply to garykral:

    Question for you John:
    Cubs signed their former #3 overall pick from 2000 after he'd been with Baltimore the last couple years. Lou Montanez. Lou is currently leading all Cubs minor leaguers in B A, any chance he has developed at an advanced age, or is he a career minor leaguer?

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Montanez is considered a AAAA player -- a guy who's too good for AAA but not quite good enough to be a major leaguer, at least an everyday one. A good comparison is a guy like Matt Murton, who regularly tore up AAA only to struggle almost every time he was given a chance. He's now a star in Japan.

    Still, I'm intrigued by Montanez. I think he could hit a little in the bigs. There would have to be a couple of injuries for him to get a chance. Another interesting pattern when it comes to late bloomers like Montanez is that their career arcs tend to be very sharp. They make a quick, late rise then have a decent year or two in the majors then seem to fall of the face of the earth. The window is often shorter for late bloomers...Micah Hoffpauir fits this model.

    However, there are some good examples of players from the Cubs system who were late bloomers and had decent careers. Ryan Theriot comes to mind, as does Casey McGehee. Another older minor leaguer, Andres Torres, went on to spark the Giants last season during their championship run.

  • In reply to walrus:

    interesting, thanks

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    another one!:

    http://www.mymlbdraft.com/MLB-Mock-Draft-2011

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I'll take it if it falls that way! Looks like a lot of mixed opinion on whether KC will take Starling. This looks to be the most interesting Cub draft in years...

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