Derek “Bubba” Starling…resides in Paola, Kansas, during the offseason...Graduated from Gardner-Edgerton (Kan.) High School in 2011…hit a combined 17 home runs over his final two prep seasons, batting .481 as a senior…selected First Team Rawlings Preseason All-America in 2011...Ranked by Baseball America as the No. 1 high school prospect and the best high school athlete in the 2011 draft...played for Team USA’s Under-18 squad in 2010, batting .339 with a .474 on-base percentage…also competed at the 2010 Tournament of Stars and the Under Armour All-America Game...A three-sport star in high school, he rushed for 2,471 yards and 31 touchdowns as a senior quarterback and was also an all-state honoree in basketball...Bypassed an opportunity to play football and baseball at the University of Nebraska when he signed with the Royals.
Made the Royals’ Opening Day roster for the first time and played in 35 games, including 16 starts in center field...Had his season interrupted by two stints on the Injured List, Aug. 5-14 and Sept. 23 to the end of the season (lower back spasms)...Hit .300 (6-for-20) when leading off an inning, including his only home run to start the third inning off Lucas Giolito on Sept. 5 vs. the White Sox...Went 4-for-19 (.211) with a double and two RBI in his first nine games (through Aug. 4), before being placed on the Injured List…batted .150 (6-for-40) with a homer, two RBI and four runs scored after returning on Aug. 15, with all six hits coming over a seven-day span from Aug. 31-Sept. 6...Had his second career multi-RBI game on July 30 at Detroit with a two-run double in the eighth after entering the game as a defensive replacement...Drove in the winning run in the eighth inning of the Royals’ 2-1 victory vs. Cleveland on Aug. 31 to mark the first game-winning RBI of his career...Collected his only multi-hit game on Sept. 6 vs. the White Sox, going 2-for-4, capping a week in which he batted .462 (6-for-13) with a homer...Following his two-hit effort on Sept. 6, went 0-for-23 with one walk and 14 strikeouts over his last 12 games from Sept. 7 through season’s end.
Started the season at Omaha (AAA), where he hit .310 (81-for-261) with 20 extra-base hits and nine stolen bases in 72 games ... Named Pacific Coast League All-Star, his first midseason All-Star selection ... Tied for third in the Pacific Coast League with eight outfield assists ... Had two home runs and five RBI on July 3 at Round Rock, including a grand slam ... Selected on July 12 and made his Major League debut that night, the Royals' first game following the All-Star break ... Went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run in his debut, becoming the sixth Royal to start in center field in his Majors debut, joining Endy Chavez (2001), Johnny Damon (1995), Brian McRae (1990), Scott Northey (1969) and Fred Rico (1969) ... Became the 20th player to play for the Royals after attending a Kansas City-area high school (Gardner-Edgerton High School in Gardner, Kan.) ... Reached safely in each of his first 12 games, matching Johnny Damon (Aug. 12-24, 1995) for the longest on-base streak by a Royal to begin his Major League career ... Had a career-high 11-game hit streak from July 13-27, that started with his second career game, in which he hit .341 (15-for-44) ... On July 19 vs. Cleveland, he had two four-star catches, according to Statcast, and threw out Francisco Lindor at home plate on an 8-2 double play to end the seventh inning…the throw registered at 100.7 mph, the highest velocity throw on an outfield assist in the Majors in 2019 and the highest by a Royal in the Statcast Era (since 2015) ... His five outfield assists were most by an American League center fielder from his debut on July 12 through season's end, and tied for fourth most among all AL outfielders ... Hit his first career home run on July 21 at Cleveland off Brad Hand in the ninth inning.
Limited to just 20 games, including 11 with Omaha (AAA) due to various injuries ... Opened the year on the Major League disabled list due to a left oblique strain, but was reinstated and optioned to Triple-A on April 27 ... Hit .257/.350/.314 (9-for-35) with the Storm Chasers, before going back on the disabled list with a right oblique strain ... Played in nine games over two separate rehab assignments with Surprise (Rookie), July 4-8 and Idaho Falls (Rookie), Aug. 29-Sept. 3 ... Non-tendered by the Royals on Nov. 30…re-signed as a minor league free agent on Dec. 17, with an invite to Major League spring training.
Spent his entire year with Omaha (AAA), playing in 80 games despite two extended stints on the disabled list… appeared in just seven games after his initial DL stint (July 13-Aug. 11) ... Had his contract selected on Aug. 26, being placed on the 60-day disabled list…marked his first time on the Royals' 40-man roster ... Batted .248 (69-for-278) with 14 doubles, one triple, seven homers and 35 runs scored ... After hitting .121 (8-for-66) with two extra-base hits in his first 20 games, batted .288 (61-for-212) with 20 extra-base hits (.443 SLG) from May 2 to the end of the season ... Hit .325/.426/.550 (13-for-40) when leading off an inning, which included three of his seven home runs ... Collected 11 outfield assists in 78 games, the third time he's recorded 10 or more in the last four seasons (also, 13 in 2016 and 14 in 2014).
Split the season between Northwest Arkansas (AA) and Omaha (AAA), hit .183 (73-for-399) with 23 doubles, a triple, seven homers and 40 RBI in 109 games combined...Promoted to Omaha on July 2, going 10-for-34 (.294) with a homer and five runs scored in his first 10 games...Recorded his first multi-homer game since 2012 on April 10 vs. Midland, blasting a pair of two-run shots...Tabbed the No. 3 prospect in the Royals' organization by Baseball America prior to the season.
Bubba spent a majority of the year at Northwest Arkansas (AA), after opening the year at Wilmington (A-Advanced)...Hit a combined .269 with 23 doubles, four triples and 12 homers between his two stops...tied for 11th in the Texas League with his four triples, while his .744 OPS would have ranked in the top 20 if he had enough at-bats to qualify... Batted .333 (33-for-99) with seven doubles, two triples and three homers in July...had a season-best 12-game hitting streak from June 26 to July 11, where he hit .340 (16-for-47)...Hit for the cycle on July 28 at Arkansas, going 4-for-5 with three RBI and three runs scored in a 10-4 Naturals victory...Participated in all six of Northwest Arkansas' postseason games, batting .211 with a homer and four runs scored...Played in 22 games for Surprise in the Arizona Fall League, batting .274 with two doubles, four homers and 10 RBI.
In 2014, tied for the Carolina League (A) lead in games played (132) and was seventh in runs scored (67) and 10th in walks (49) ... Named Carolina League Player of the Week for the Week of June 23 in 2014…hit .478 (11-for-23) over a five-game span.
Slugged a career-high 13 home runs at Lexington (A) in 2013 and was named the No. 19 prospect in the South Atlantic League.
In 2012, named Burlington (Rookie) Player of the Year and was also an Appalachian League All-Star.