Bubba Starling is a big leaguer.
The former Nebraska quarterback signee’s long trek through the minor league ranks is over for now after he was called up from Triple-A Omaha to the Kansas City Royals ahead of post-All Star break play resuming Friday.
The team announced the roster move Thursday morning.
Starling, a Gardner, Kansas, native, is in the midst of the best year of his professional career so far. He earned All-Star honors for the Storm Chasers by hitting .310 with an .806 OPS, seven home runs and 38 RBIs to go along with nine stolen bases.
“He’s coming up here to play regularly,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore told MLB.com. “He can obviously play anywhere in the outfield. I’m not saying he’ll play 10 straight days, but he’ll play regularly.
“It’s tough for someone to miss all of the 2018 season as he did. But it was clear he was on a mission this season. We saw that in spring training, and he has done very well at Omaha.”
The 26-year-old is a familiar name to Husker fans for more than his baseball work in the region, though. He was once a four-star quarterback recruit who picked NU over a host of schools. He arrived on campus in the summer of 2011, but was also picked No. 5 overall by the Royals in the 2011 draft, who convinced him to pick baseball over football with a $7.5 million signing bonus.
Starling was considered one of the best quarterback recruits of the 2011 class, checking in at No. 110 overall in the country by the 247Sports Composite system and as the No. 6 dual-threat quarterback. Other signal-callers in the class included Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel among others.
It hasn’t been a particularly smooth path, even considering the timeline most high schoolers need to develop from star teenagers into major-league ready players. Starling struggled both in performance and with injuries earlier in his minor league career and was nontendered by the Royals in November 2018 before being re-joining the organization the next month.
This year, he’s been healthy and productive.
Now, he’s a major-leaguer.