The Process – Comping Bubba’s Season
Last night MLB tabbed Bubba Starling the Royals top prospect and the 26th best prospect in all of baseball. ¬†If you like prospects like I do then Bubba has it all in terms of potential. ¬†After all he’s a potential five tool player with a uber amount of talent that if unleashed could evolve into the most explosive athlete in Royal blue since Carlos Beltran and before him Bo Jackson.
Last season was a test for Bubba as he went to the Appy League and had to play a full season against the best competition he’s seen over 200 plus at bats. ¬†How did he do? ¬†Well all things considering he did pretty well, he bested the league average in all three slash categories while also finishing in the league Top 5 in home runs. ¬†On top of his offensive production the Royals have said his defense looks to be much better than even they expected and I’ve heard reports that back that up.
Those are some major positives for Bubba and hopefully he can build on those things with a big season in Lexington which could in turn speed up his time-table a tad. ¬†What has me concerned though is the swing and miss that plagued Bubba’s game with over 30% of his plate appearances ending in a strikeout. ¬†Being the eternal Royals optimist you guys know me to be I went searching for similar seasons in the Appy League over the last 20 years by players that eventually made the majors. ¬†My brief search gave me some interesting names, guys in the big now like Johnny Gomes as well as a former Royal prospect Calvin Pickering and a Royal killer in Russell Branyan as well as a few others but I thought I’d pick out two that seemed to fit the bill to Bubba’s possible future especially well.
Preston Wilson 1993 Age 18 ¬†.232/.302/.456 ¬†10- doubles 16 HR 75 K in 288 PA or about 26% of the time
Colby Rasmus 2005 Age 18 .296/.362/.514 16- doubles 7 HR 73 K in 244 PA 30% K rate
Bubba 2012 Age 19 .275/.371/.485 8-doubles 10 HR 70 in 234 PA 30% K rate
Obviously these two standout with Bubba due to the their athleticism and the hype that surrounded them as five tool possible players in the majors. ¬†While I’m sure we could dig further and find a more glowing player to compare Bubba these guys fit the K rate, position, athleticism and potential hype at the time they came up particularly well in my opinion. ¬†The one difference and it is bigger than you may expect fo the three is the age difference. ¬†As Rany has pointed out in the past a year makes a difference in terms of prospects so maybe Bubba becomes Kimera Bartee instead of Colby Rasmus but for now lets just move on and compare what they became.
Both players got to the majors and showed off some big time power which most believe will be a big part of Starling’s game. ¬†On top of the power both Rasmus and Wilson’s many tools improved enough to shine at the major league level at times but that K rate while slightly improved enough to keep them in the lineup never got over league average for either player. ¬†Is that important? ¬†No, to become a major league average player it isn’t the be all end all if you have Bubba’s skillset which could be similar to Rasmus or even Drew Stubbs, a CF who plays good defense, with a good arm and hits in other ways enough to add value.
The Wilson-Rasmus scenario isn’t all that bad, yes it isn’t what the Royals wanted when they gave him $7M but for Wilson at least there were a couple valuable seasons tossed in there. It wouldn’t get Bubba into the Hall of Fame, Cooperstown or Kauffman versions for that matter, but it would be better than busting out which that K rate would probably show more often than not is the real scenario. This is nothing mroe than a quick glance of guys that I thought profiled well to Bubba’s skillset. His path could take a much different turn.
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Preston Wilson 162 Game ML Avg 10 Yrs .264/.329/.468 32-2b 28-HR 103 OPS+
Colby Rasmus 162 Game ML Avg thru 4 Yrs .243/.313/.422 27-2b 22 HR 98 OPS+ Minors
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