Royals OF Bubba Starling retires: 'Couldn't be happier'

Gardner-Edgerton grad played 10 pro seasons
Indians Royals Spring Baseball
Posted at 11:18 AM, Oct 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-26 16:27:10-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Former Kansas City Royals outfielder Bubba Starling announced his retirement this week after 10 seasons with the organization.

Starling, who was married recently, confirmed Tuesday that he had retired from baseball and "couldn't be happier."

Starling, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2011 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, appeared in 91 games in 2019 and 2020 with the Royals.

A three-sport star at Gardner-Edgerton High School, the 29-year-old Starling signed with the University of Nebraska for football and baseball after college.

He even went to training camp with the Cornhuskers football team after being drafted in June 2011 before signing with the Royals for a club-record $7.5 million in August 2011.

Starling, who also helped lead the Trailblazers’ basketball team to state during his high school heyday, was the Burlington Royals’ Player of the Year during his first professional season in 2012 after batting .275 with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs in 53 games.

Indians Royals Baseball
Kansas City Royals manager Mike Matheny (22) and Bubba Starling (11) celebrate after a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians, Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, in Kansas City, Mo.

He played the next two seasons with Class A affiliates before reaching Class AA Northwest Arkansas in 2015 and Class AAA Omaha in 2016, but injuries and strikeouts piled up and stalled his progress.

Starling, the 2010 Simone Award winner as the top high school player in the Kansas City area and one of the top prep athletes in the city’s history, finally put it all together in 2019 with the Stormchasers. He batted .310/.358/.448 with 11 doubles, seven home runs, 38 RBIs and nine stolen bases in 72 games before being promoted to the big-league club.

Starling made his major-league debut on July 12, 2019, and would appear in 56 games that season. He appeared in 35 games, often as a late-inning defensive replacement in center field, during the 2020 season.

Starling spent the 2021 season at Omaha, where he batted .258/.305/.557 with six doubles, seven home runs and 17 RBIs in 27 games.

He also played for the U.S. Olympic baseball team, which won a silver medal last summer during the 2020 Tokyo Games.

RELATED | KC-area athletes at the 2020 Tokyo Games

Tokyo Olympics Baseball
United States' Bubba Starling steals second base past South Korea's Hyeseong Kim during the third inning of a baseball game at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Yokohama, Japan.

The Royals had no comment on Starling's retirement when requested by KSHB 41 News.