It was the day Nebraska fans were dreading for months. At exactly 6:30 P.M, just 30 minutes after the Major League Baseball Draft started, the Kansas City Royals used their 1st round pick (5th overall) on Nebraska quarterback signee and local product Bubba Starling.
“There’s a lot of options for the future as far as possibly signing or going up to Nebraska,” Starling said in a conference call with reporters. “I’ve still got a lot of stuff to figure out. but I’m just trying to enjoy my moment with my family and enjoy tonight.”
The 6-foot-5, 200 pound two-sport star is considered by many a 5-tool prospect. A term that is thrown out often, but actually warranted in Starling's case down the road, according to Scout.com National Baseball Expert Frank Piliere.
“Starling has superstar upsides possibly more than anyone in this class,” said Piliere. “Bubba Starling has Jason Heyward type talent...He’s not a five tool player yet, as his hit tool needs refining at the professional level. But, his raw power, speed, defensive abilities and arm all grade out near the top of the 20-80 scale.”
With a signing bonus that could be north of six million dollars, Starling is not expected to make any decision on his future until August. The deadline for a deal to be done is August 15th. If a deal is not reached, he would not be eligible again until the 2014 Major League Draft. Players who attend four-year colleges are eligible after completing their junior years, or after their 21st birthdays.
"When it comes closer we're going to figure that stuff out. I'm trying to enjoy the moment tonight, and it's a special time,” Starling said. “Not many kids get drafted in the 1st round or get this opportunity.”
After running for 2,400 yards and 39 touchdowns as a quarterback last season, his success on the diamond was even better. He .481 as a center-fielder, electing to not pitch this season.
"We got the player we wanted, we got the most electric athlete and player in the Draft and it just happened to be in our backyard as well," said Lonnie Goldberg, the Royals' director of scouting. "He's got raw power, he's got speed, he's got a plus arm. You name it, pick one. He's got a lot of them."