(WHITAKER BANK BALLPARK, Lexington, Ky.) In their first season as an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, the Lexington Legends will have the organization's top prospect, as ranked by mlb.com, on their roster.
Bubba Starling, 20, a three-sport high school star from Gardner, Kansas, was the Royals' first-round pick and the fifth overall choice in the June 2011 draft. In his senior year at Gardner-Edgerton High School, Starling, a quarterback, rushed for 2,417 yards and 31 touchdowns. He chose to turn professional in baseball rather than accept an opportunity to play football and baseball at the University of Nebraska.
In his first year in professional baseball, Starling, an outfielder, batted .275 with 10 home runs and 33 runs batted in in 53 games in 2012 with Burlington of the Appalachian League. He was fourth in the league in home runs, sixth in OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) at .856 and ninth in walks with 28. He was named an Appalachian League All-Star and was Burlington's Player of the Year.
The Legends' roster also includes shortstop Adalberto Mondesi, ranked as the Royals' sixth best prospect by mlb.com. Mondesi, who will turn 18 in July, is the son of former major leaguer Raul Mondesi.
Catcher Cameron Gallagher, the Royals' second round pick in 2011, and infielder Humberto Arteaga are also on the Legends' opening day roster. Gallagher is ranked 13th in the Kansas City organization by mlb.com, Arteaga 14th.
The pitching staff includes 19-year-old right-hander Miguel Almonte, who had a combined 8-2 record and a 2.23 earned run average with the Dominican Royals and the Surprise Royals of the Arizona League.
Right-hander Mark Peterson, who was 6-0 with a 1.16 ERA as a reliever with Burlington in 2012, will be on the Lexington staff. (Peterson's father, Ralph, played basketball at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, where he was a teammate of Kentucky coach John Calipari.)
Colin Rodgers, Burlington's Pitcher of the Year (3-1, 2.05) in 2012 is one of four left-handed pitchers on the opening day roster.
"This is a really exciting collection of talent for our opening day roster," said Legends General Manager Seth Poteat. "With so many excellent prospects headed to Lexington this year, we can't wait to get the season started."
The Legends open the season Thursday, April 4 at Augusta, and will return to Lexington to open the home season Monday, April 8 at 7:05 p.m. at Whitaker Bank Ballpark against the Asheville Tourists. For ticket information, visit lexingtonlegends.com or call 859 422-7867.