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.
Terrible, terrible news: Christian Moreno of ESPN reports that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura has been killed in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic. His death has been confirmed by police. He was only 25 years-old. There are as of yet no details about the accident.
Ventura was a four-year veteran, having debuted in 2013 but truly bursting onto the scene for the Royals in 2014. That year he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings, ascending to the national stage along with the entire Royals team with some key performances in that year’s ALDS and World Series. The following year Ventura won 13 games for the World Champion Royals and again appeared in the playoffs and World Series.
Ventura was often in the middle of controversy — he found himself in several controversies arising out of his habit of hitting and brushing back hitters — but he was an undeniably electric young talent who was poised to anchor the Royals rotation for years to come. His loss, like that of Jose Fernandez just this past September, is incalculable to both his team, his fans and to Major League Baseball as a whole.
Our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, his teammates and his fans.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.