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MLB Draft 2011: All Signs Point To Bubba Starling For The Nationals

The Nationals have a few early picks in the 2011 MLB Draft, but most of the intrigue will surround their sixth overall pick, the earliest pick they own. There has been a rumor out there for a few days that the Nationals are zoning in on Bubba Starling, and that still seems to be the case. Ben Goessling of MASN doesn't provide any sort of inside info about the pick, but he does say that Starling is one to "keep an eye on."

While there are plenty of pitchers that could help the Nationals' rotation, the name I'd keep an eye on is South Carolina high school outfielder Bubba Starling. The 6-foot-5 Starling is seen as a center fielder, with the tools to lead off and the range to man the position in the majors. An outfield of Bryce Harper, Starling and Jayson Werth wouldn't materialize for a couple years, but if that scenario came together, the Nationals would have two extremely high-ceiling players to play next to Werth.

The biggest issue with Starling is whether or not the Nationals will be able to sign him. Starling is a two sport star, and has already committed to play quarterback at Nebraska next fall. The Nationals will have to throw a ton of money at him to get him to walk away from that scholarship, but that is something that they have shown a willingness to do in the past. Maybe he'll pull a Carl Crawford though, and walk away from an uncertain football future for millions of guaranteed dollars now playing baseball.

The other issue is whether or not he will be on the board, because he is, by far, the best high school position player prospect in this draft. The Nationals need the five teams picking in front of them to pass if they are going to have the opportunity to draft him. Reports are emerging this morning that the Pirates are set to take UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole at No. 1 overall, so that takes them out of the Starling running, but there are still four other teams that could ruin their party.