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Royals top prospect Bubba Starling is struggling because he can’t see

May 16, 2013, 10:47 AM EST

Bubba Starling AP

Bubba Starling was one of the most-hyped high schoolers in recent memory before being drafted by the Royals with the No. 5 pick in 2011, but after a strong debut at rookie-ball last season he’s been terrible this season.

Starling has hit .213 with a .640 OPS and ghastly 41/10 K/BB ratio in 35 games at low Single-A and it turns out maybe he just can’t see the ball.

Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports that Starling has left the low Single-A team and traveled to Kansas City to potentially undergo Lasik eye surgery. Starling apparently complained of not being able to see very well during night games and his vision has gotten worse since the last time he had it checked.

At this point Lasik is a very minor operation and he’d probably be back playing within days, but making eye checks a regular thing seems like a decent idea for teams given how much money they’ve invested in the development of players like Starling.

  1. deathmonkey41 - May 16, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    Do parents really name their kids Bubba or is that a nickname?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - May 16, 2013 at 10:58 AM

      According to bref his name is Derek Starling, so I guess it’s a nickname.

    • jwbiii - May 16, 2013 at 10:58 AM

      His real name is Derek. Bubba Trammell was named Bubba.

      Wil Myers had eyesight problems a few years ago. Maybe the Kansas City organization should be paying more attention to this. (Resists making a joke about trusting the process.)

      • dondada10 - May 16, 2013 at 12:06 PM

        Bubba Trammell…

        Thank you for reminding me of a time when the Mets were relevant.

    • jwbiii - May 16, 2013 at 7:13 PM

      I had an Uncle Brud. His real name was Orville. My mother, a year older, couldn’t say Orville. Her parents suggested that she call him Brother. It came out Brud. It stuck. I suspect this is often how this sort of thing happens.

    • brendonhudson37 - Jul 3, 2013 at 2:16 PM

      His real name is Derek.

  2. Ben - May 16, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    Given how incredibly valuable prospects are, and how much money teams invest in them otherwise, it’s shocking how little attention gets paid to their health and physical fitness. Too many stories of players in the minors gaining weight and losing and step because they rely on junk food, etc. I wonder how much an extra million invested in player health and well-being in the minors would yield in dividends. Bubba Starling being able to see, for example.

    • DJ MC - May 16, 2013 at 12:27 PM

      It’s amazing.

      This isn’t 1935, when even within farm systems the players were all generally viewed as interchangable and teams would simply let the players who didn’t want to put up with conditions leave. Now the goal is actively developing carefully selected talent. I understand not paying the players themselves much and letting them fend for themselves to a certain extant outside of the ballpark, but when it comes to the facilities they use they should be getting the best the major-league teams can provide.

  3. tmohr - May 16, 2013 at 10:59 AM

    I’m just a schlub commenting on the Internet, but shouldn’t annual eye exams be SOP for baseball teams?

    • geoknows - May 16, 2013 at 11:09 AM

      RTFA. He had an eye exam last year and another this year.

      As the proud (?) owner of horrible eyesight myself, believe me, it can change a lot over a very short span of time.

      • billybawl - May 16, 2013 at 12:14 PM

        What geoknows said. I needed new prescriptions over about 8 years in my 20s when I went from 20/20 to can’t see my hand in front of my face. But I also wonder if Lasik surgery is the best thing for a kid that young. Will it keep his eyesight from deteriorating further? They do have this invention called “glasses” that he might want to investigate.

      • historiophiliac - May 16, 2013 at 12:45 PM

        Especially at that age. I was almost 30 before my prescription stabilized. Contacts make a difference too.

  4. jjohnb5393 - May 16, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    Brian McCann had vision problems as well…..

  5. paperlions - May 16, 2013 at 11:37 AM

    Uh oh, a performance enhancing body alteration. How scandalous!

    • historiophiliac - May 16, 2013 at 1:01 PM

      You can stop fanning yourself with your program now.

  6. asimonetti88 - May 16, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    I was under the impression you were supposed to wait for Lasik until you are around 25, as your eye sight is still getting worse/better? Maybe I’m wrong.

  7. bigmacmantle - May 16, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    When I saw the headline I wondered if it was his eyesight or if he had dirty contact lenses like Junior Ortiz back when he played with the Pirates who had him take an eye exam in 1987 and the doctor estimated his contact lenses had not been cleaned for months.

  8. moogro - May 16, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    He always has a future playing Garret Dillahunt.

  9. rando74 - May 16, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    what no Rick Vaughn reference? come on……”too high? whaddya mean too high? who gives a shit its gone

    • fhuizar - May 16, 2013 at 7:14 PM

      classic love that quote

  10. fhuizar - May 16, 2013 at 7:13 PM

    Shoulda been a Husker dude.

  11. fearthehoody - May 16, 2013 at 7:22 PM

    Ricky Vaughen had the same problem

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