Derek “Bubba” Starling – 6-4, 190 – OF/RHP Gardner-Edgerton HS (Kan)
Physical: At age 18, Starling is already a physical specimen with considerable room to grow. Broad shoulders could house serious upper body strength down the line, strong core and trunk, long lengs, medium hips. Freakish athleticism harnessed by strong frame and excellent body control. He is a natural athlete and excels at three sports.
Defense: The running theme for everything Starling should be the following: currently unrefined due to a lack of exclusive focus on baseball, but potentially plus down the line due to elite athleticism and ability to learn and adjust. Starling has put most of his focus over the last few years on football (he is a Nebraska commit to QB), but as coaches and scouts realized that he could emerge as a top draft pick, and potential multi-millionaire, he has started to really tackle baseball. All aspects of his game, including defense, have grown considerably in about 1.5 years, but he is still a step or two behind other serious considers who have lived the game for years. Right now Starling tends to take circular and inefficient routes in the outfield, but his speed and athleticism allow him to get to balls that most others would simply never come close to. He is a quick learner and has a strong work ethic, and should be able to cut the dead steps out of his routes down the line. Combined with plus arm strength, his athleticism should lead him to become an above average defender either in center or right, depending on how he fills out.
Bat: You guessed it: potentially plus but with a good ways to go. His swing is raw in the sense that his load is sloppy and his transfer of weight is not efficient. The parts of his body aren’t currently moving on a line the way they do for hitters who’ve spent thousands of hours perfecting the muscle memory. Still, despite the inefficiencies, Starling generates consistent hard contact. I sometimes see the “raw” label applied to guys who have developed bad habits they must unlearn. Starling is raw in the sense that he just needs to learn the good mechanics, and he tends to absorb nuances of sport easily. His body control allows him to excel in most athletic areas. His raw bat speed and excellent hand-eye coordination give him potential plus hit and plus power in the future, though his swing needs a good bit of developing.
The Skinny: In terms of pure projection, Starling may have the highest ceiling in the draft. He excels at everything he does, combining elite athleticism with work ethic and determination to be the best in any area in which he may be focusing. Any organization with a good track record of developing hitters and money to spend (he’ll need at least Tate money to pry him away from Nebraska) should be ecstatic to land Starling in the top 10. A scout can dream on Starling as much as he can on just about any prep candidate in recent years, but his ceiling is mitigated some by the amount of development left. Starling also brings mid-90s heat on the mound, but the enticing package of defense and hitting he could bring is too good for any organization to turn down.