Today’s MLB draft has been called one of the deepest draft classes in the last five years. It also features another “once in a lifetime” talent in Bubba Starling, a 6’5″, 193 boy wonder from a small town just south of Kansas City.
Starling’s lore is founded on 500-foot home runs, 395 yard rushing performances and roof-lifting dunks. Where those who have not seen him doubt his god-like talents, those who have are able to back-up the phenom’s generational talent.
Already committed to Nebraska to play quarterback, Starling will have to make a life-changing decision when he is drafted later today. Which way he is leaning remains unclear, though he has said he will be ready for practice in Lincoln when practice begins in late July.
The question is whether Starling truly is a “once in a generation” talent. The past two MLB draft’s have been host to two other generational talents, the National’s Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. It can be tough to justify three consecutive years of praise for top talent in the draft, so the superlatives laid on these three may only be justified when the trio have actually excelled in the majors. By then, there will likely be others who will have the generational tag bestowed upon them.
What they have at this point in their lives is promise. In the 46 years of the MLB draft, no number one pick has ever made it to Cooperstown. Even if they are not labeled the “once in a generation” talent by the end of their careers, they will need to show their worth. They will need to prove their talents as they have done on the lower levels of competition they’ve excelled at.
While it is incredibly possible Starling, Harper and Strasburg will excel in the majors, it is also possible they can flame out. Strasburg’s first season was cut short by Tommy John surgery and his violent throwing motion has been called into question very early on.
We’ve also been warned to be wary of the generational superlative. Ryan Leaf could never cut it in the NFL. Sam Bowie’s talent could not overcome his injuries. Kwame Brown was too young and inexperienced. Tony Mandarich cracked under the pressure.
Things change when you play in different environments and there’s a reason to wary when Starling isn’t in Kansas anymore.
Whether Starling lives up to the hype in the bigs (or even opts to go the baseball route altogether) will take time to evaluate. For now, though, we should praise this mammoth talent from a small town south of Kansas City.