17 May 2011

2011 Depot Draft Preview - Finding 1:4 (Derek "Bubba" Starling)

We continue our annual look at amateur talents the Baltimore Orioles could (should) be targeting in the 1st Round and beyond. Over the next two weeks we will bear down on the eight potential 1st Round targets listed below, followed by a week dedicated to the 2nd - 5th Rounds and finally the 6th - 10th Rounds. As a reminder, the draft coverage here will focus on Baltimore. More in-depth coverage, including rankings, scouting reports, videos and more can be found over at http://www.diamondscapescouting.com/.

Potential targets at 1:4

Anthony Rendon / 3b / Rice Univ.
Gerrit Cole / rhp / UCLA
Bubba Starling / of/rhp / Gardner Edgerton HS (Gardner, Kan.)
Sonny Gray / rhp / Vanderbilt Univ.
Danny Hultzen / lhp / Univ. of Virginia
Dylan Bundy / rhp / Owasso HS (Owasso, Okla.)
Taylor Jungmann / rhp / Univ. of Texas
Jed Bradley / lhp / Georgia Tech

*Every player discussed in the Depot Draft Preview has been scouted by Nick J. Faleris, either through his efforts at DiamondScape Scouting or as part of his duties as an Associate Scout in the Midwest Region for a National League organization.

Derek "Bubba" Starling (of, Gardner Edgerton HS, Gardner, Kan.)
Ht/Wt: 6-4/185
B/T: R/R
Year: Senior
Age at Draft: 18y10m
Games Scouted: 5 (in person); 2 (video)

Grades - Now (Future):
Hit: 25/30 (55/60)
Power: 30 (55/60)
Arm: 55/60 (60/65)
Defense: 40 (60/65)
Speed: 70/75 (65/70)
Feel: 40 (60)
Overall Future Potential: 60/61

*Notes on Grades: The Scouting Scale works from 20-80, with 50 being Major League Average. The scale operates loosely on a bell curve, so the further you move from 50 the fewer grades you'll find among ML players (e.g. Aroldis Chapman's fastball, Ichiro Suzuki's arm strength, Adam Dunn's power and Albert Pujols' hit tool would all be 80 grade). A 60 grade is sometimes referred to as plus and a 70 grade is sometimes referred to as plus-plus.

Physical Description:
Strong, athletic build. Broad shoulders tapered to medium hips. Strong core with medium high waist. Elite athlete with body control, speed, agility and acceleration all well above average. Frame has potential to house a fair amount of additional strength.

Starling is a work-in-progress in the outfield, still tentative in his first step and raw in his lines. At the same time, he closes on balls in the air very well and shows an impressive ability to track, even if his initial lines create some extra ground to cover. The arm-strength is evident and should ultimately play as plus in-game. Right now, he cuts his arm circle short and throws too often from the ear, limiting his carry and on occasion his accuracy. Starling could profile in center or right field, with his ultimate size and range being the likely determinant.

The most surprising aspect of Starling's game is how effective he is at getting the barrel of the bat to the ball, considering the limited amount of time he has spent on the diamond compared to his contemporaries. Belying his "raw" label, hard contact was the norm in Long Beach during the Area Code Games, including a deep drive to pull and an opposite field rocket hit just shy of the track out in right-center (following Tilson's homerun). The hand/eye coordination and bat speed will give him a chance to hit for average, and as he cleans-up his load and weight transfer some he could grow into legit plus power. It is a true "sky is the limit" offensive profile that could be developed quickly once the Kansas prepster is focused on baseball.

On the Mound:
Starling spent time last summer on the mound, showing promise with low-90s velocity and solid spin on a 12/6 curveball, all in spite of unrefined mechanics and little formal coaching on the pitching side. He neglected to pursue pitching this spring and is at this point should be considered an outfielder, exclusively. The same, he showed enough foundation and feel on the hill that a drafting organization can feel more than comfortable that should the worst happen, developmentally, on the offensive side for Starling, he has a nice potential fallback as an arm.

Starling has the potential to develop into a truly elite talent in every respect. He is the class' best athlete, and while he has not devoted his attention to baseball yet he is far from an "athlete first"-type of player. The most encouraging aspect of his performance last summer was not the jaw-dropping SPARQ testing, impressive in-game displays, or even the mature approach considering his experience. Rather, what sets Starling apart is the strides he was able to make between June and August, and the ferocity with which he was able to devour instruction, digest it and apply it to his game. His swing, still in need of fine-tuning at the Area Code Games, was cleaner than it showed at the Tournament of Stars a little over a month earlier -- particularly in his weight transfer. He circled the ball better in the outfield and showed more confidence in his actions at the plate after logging dozens of plate appearances throughout the summer months against the country's (and in some cases, the world's) top high school/18U talent. There is, of course, risk in committing a large sum of money to a high school player with unrefined skills. If ever there is a time to do it, however, it's when you come across an unrefined talent that displays elite athleticism, a knack for picking-up instruction and the competitive drive to push until he masters something -- that's exactly what you have in Bubba. For organizations adept at molding young talent, Starling is as promising a ball of clay as you are going to find.

Projected position: Above-average to elite center/right fielder on 1st division team
Suggested draft slot: Top 10 overall


This scouting report originally published by the author here.

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