2011 Baseball Draft: Could Bubba Starling Be An Option For Pirates At No.1 Overall?

The Arizona Republic has a good feature on top draft prospect and Kansas high school CF Bubba Starling, who John Sickels has going to the Kansas City Royals with the No. 5 overall pick in June's 2011 MLB Draft. Of all the players in the draft, Starling is the most impressive athlete.

They say he hits 500-foot home runs and throws 95 mph. That he almost throws runners out at first base on singles to center field. That he throws a football 50 yards from his knees.

"Everything you've read about him as a kid and an athlete, those haven't been exaggerations," Gardner Edgerton High baseball coach Jerald Van Rheen said.

So might Starling be an option for the Pirates with the No. 1 overall pick? Possibly, and it's worth keeping an eye on. But while Starling's upside is stratospheric, he's a long way from realizing it - he will likely have a bunch of work to do in the minors before reaching the majors. (There's also the fact that he's also a star football quarterback and the top recruit at the University of Nebraska, although it seems likely that the money that goes with being the top overall pick in the baseball draft would be enough to lure him away from the gridiron.)

Two players ahead of Starling, Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon and UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole, possess considerable upside themselves and don't really have Starling's bust potential. Still, Rendon and Cole both come with question marks - Rendon has had a number of injuries recently, and Cole has struggled at times this year. I've never heard Starling connected to the Pirates specifically, but it could happen if Rendon and Cole falter.

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