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First-Round Pick Starling Signs With MLB Royals, Spurns Nebraska Football

Bubba Starling agreed on a contract with the Kansas City Royals, choosing to play professional baseball rather than football at the University of Nebraska.

Starling, 18, was the fifth pick in this year’s draft and ranked as the nation’s top high school prospect by Baseball America. The center fielder agreed on the deal minutes before last night’s deadline to sign picks from June’s Major League Baseball draft and will get a $7.5 million signing bonus spread over three years, MLB.com reported.

Starling, who’s from Gardner, Kansas, was offered a scholarship from Nebraska to play baseball and quarterback for the football team. While he worked out with Nebraska’s football players last month, he didn’t practice after the Cornhuskers opened preseason camp on Aug. 6.

“This guy is without a doubt one of the best athletes to play the game of baseball in many years,” Royals General Manager Dayton Moore said on MLB.com. “We look forward to moving on in Bubba’s development through our system.”

As a senior at Gardner Edgerton High School, Starling rushed for 2,417 yards, averaging more than 14 yards a carry, and scored 31 touchdowns. He batted .481 for the baseball team while hitting a home run every six at-bats, according to ESPN.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at matuszewski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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