Starling, Colon featured on KC's Futures Night

Starling, Colon featured on KC's Futures Night

KANSAS CITY -- As the present-day Royals returned home for Friday night's series against the Angels, another group of Royals descended on Kansas City: the Royals of the future.

The organization's players and pitchers of the year were honored during Futures Night at Kauffman Stadium during pregame ceremonies. On Friday morning, the group visited patients at the University of Kansas Hospital and toured the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

The delegation included former first-round Draft choices Bubba Starling and Christian Colon, selected with the Royals' top picks in 2011 and 2010, respectively.

Starling, a native of nearby Gardner, Kan., was a first-time visitor to the museum where the tour was conducted by president Bob Kendrick. Starling said it was great to see artifacts and representations of legends like Buck O'Neil, whom he met years ago at Satchel Paige Stadium in Kansas City.

"It was exciting, getting to be with all these guys here," Starling said. "First time, even though I do live in Kansas City. It's great being here, getting to see all the cool stuff, and I enjoyed it."

Colon, who spent this season with both Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha, said the museum was a special place to visit.

"It was awesome, more than I ever even thought it was going to be," Colon said. "Hearing those stories from Bob and seeing the pictures, old equipment -- I certainly wouldn't be here without the help of those guys. It's awesome to see that and really inspiring."

Absent were Omaha's player and pitcher of the year -- Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi. Both are busy competing for a Pacific Coast League championship.

Starling, with his local ties, always has the eyes of Royals fans upon him. After being selected fifth overall by the Royals in last year's Draft, Starling didn't start playing professionally until this season, when he joined the Rookie level Burlington Royals in June. In 53 games, Starling hit 10 home runs with 33 RBIs. He batted .275 and stole 10 bases.

"As I started out, I was a little nervous just for the whole process," Starling said. "As I went through it, it was a great experience meeting all these new guys and getting to play with them. I was looking forward to that for a while, since I signed. I was ready to start playing in front of some fans and with some of the guys I got drafted with. We had a decent year, and I'm looking forward to the next coming years going up through the system with some of the guys."

Starling, ranked as the No. 2 Royals prospect by MLB.com, and the Burlington Royals made the Appalachian League finals, falling to the Elizabethton Twins in the best-of-three series. Still, he was pleased with his first taste of postseason play.

"That was exciting. And that's what we need. We need to keep being in the postseason, whether it's at Rookie level or all the way up to the big league level. That's where we want to be," Starling said. "I think we're going to start winning here in Kansas City, and we've got a lot of great, young talent coming up."

Starling wasn't the only one looking ahead to potential big-league days. Colon was also happy to be donning a Royals jersey for the day.

"It's an honor," Colon said. "Every chance I get a chance to do this, being around the guys and doing this, it's a great feeling. From the minute I was drafted by this organization, I loved it. I was honored by it, and I just couldn't wait to put my stamp on it and go to the big leagues and help the team win. That's my goal. My goal is to win a World Series here, bring the fans back and everything. I think it's on the way."

After batting .257 in 2011, Colon hit .289 with 27 RBIs in 73 games with Northwest Arkansas this season. He scored 33 runs and stole 12 bases with the Naturals before a callup to Omaha. He was 7-for-17 in five games with the Storm Chasers before sustaining an injury to his face that knocked him out for the rest of the season.

"I made some adjustments in the offseason. I told myself this year was going to be a little different, because I felt more comfortable and I was able to give the Royals and everybody the player I'm going to be," Colon said. "I did well in Double-A, earned a promotion to Triple-A. I was there for only five games, cut down by an injury, but I feel healthy. I feel great. I'm going to winter ball in Puerto Rico. I'll be there for the whole season and be ready for Spring Training. Hopefully good things are coming, and I can't wait."

While the injury closed one of his eyes for a short time, Colon said his vision is fine and he's looking forward to getting back on the field.

Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.