Royals first-round pick Bubba Starling and two other unidentified minor leaguers were stopped at a random alcohol check and cited for underage drinking in Arizona last week, according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.
Dutton reports that none of the three players tested over the legal limit, but Starling is just 19 years old. He was the fifth overall pick in June’s draft and bypassed attending the University of Nebraska to sign for $7.5 million.
Royals assistant general manager for scouting and player development J.J. Picollo told Dutton that no further discipline is expected.
Here’s more from Picollo:
Our players put themselves in a bad spot. They made a poor decision in having a beer under age. It’s something most teenagers deal with, but we’re disappointed that they put themselves in this position. We’ll deal with it internally, but they did show some sense of responsibility in having someone who wasn’t drinking do the driving. We try to educate our kids from the time they sign until they get to the big leagues in what it means to be a professional athlete and how to represent the organization.
There were a total of five people in the car, but as Picollo notes the driver wasn’t drinking at all and one passenger was of legal drinking age.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.