Bubba Starling

Former top prospect Bubba Starling has been called up by the Kansas City Royals. Starling will join an crowded outfield mix with Alex Gordon, Billy Hamilton, Whit Merrifield, Jorge Soler and Terrance Gore.

The Kansas City Royals have selected former first-round pick Bubba Starling from Triple-A Omaha ahead of today’s game against the Detroit Tigers, the team announced Thursday.

The Royals have yet to make a corresponding move to the 40-man roster.

The Gardner-Edgerton product was drafted No. 5 overall in 2011. The 26-year-old Starling is hitting .310/.358/.448 with seven home runs and nine stolen bases in 72 games for Omaha.

He also participated in the Triple-A All-Star Game this week.

He has batted at a .355 clip (11-for-31) in his last eight games with the Storm Chasers, a stretch that included five straight two-hit games. Starling also had a 10-game hitting streak in early June in which he batted .436 (17-for-39)

Since moving up the minor league system, Starling had been plagued by a high strikeout rate, and injuries later derailed his career.

After hitting .185 at AA Northwest Arkansas by the end of the 2016 season, the outfielder turned things around at the plate, hitting .303 at Omaha in 2017. He again broke out in 2018, posting a 1.026 OPS for three different Royals minor league affiliates.

He missed much of 2018 with an oblique injury, only to dislocate his finger upon returning, forcing him to miss the rest of the season.

Starling became a free agent and re-signed a minor league deal with the Royals.

Starling has been seen as a “Major League ready” defender since being drafted. Starling is out of options, so the only route for him back to the minors is through waivers.

Starling’s debut is likely to come in Kansas City today.

Brandon Zenner can be reached

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