There was no decision to make, really, when the Royals' turn came around Monday night with the fifth overall pick in Major League Baseball's first-year player draft. Club officials believed the draft pool contained four superior pitching prospects.
All four were already off the board.
That left Gardner-Edgerton High outfielder Bubba Starling, whom the Royals rated as the best position player, and a bunch of talented but definitely second-tier pitching prospects. So, no decision at all.
The Royals took Starling, the multi-sport athlete whom they view as a long-term fit in center field. That he is from their own back yard, they insisted, was merely a pleasant coincidence.
"We got the player who we felt was the most-impact position player in the draft," general manager Dayton Moore said, "and is going to be the guy who helps us win here in Kansas City when he arrives.
"Our philosophy, from day one, is to take the best available player on our board and the player who is going to help us win a championship in Kansas City. We've spoken in the past about this. That's what it's all about."
Starling watched the selection on television with his family at home in Gardner.
"I was smiling, of course," he admitted. "It's kind of cool, after growing up as a Royals' fan, to get to stay home now, possibly. Definitely, I enjoyed the time with my family.
"I turned to my mom and gave her a huge hug. There was a little emotion coming out."
Scouting director Lonnie Goldberg characterized Starling as the "most electric" player in the draft, saying he possesses 25-plus homer potential with plus speed and a plus arm.
"There's not much not to like about this kid," Goldberg said. "He's competitive. He's a winner. He's a center-of-the-diamond player. We're really fortunate he was there.
"This is the place he wanted to be, and we wanted to have him."
Even so, the way the draft unfolded saved the Royals from a potentially ticklish choice between selecting the local standout and addressing their desire to acquire an advanced pitcher. All pre-draft signs pointed to the Royals taking a pitcher.
"We're always focused on pitching," Moore admitted. "We've got to run a guy out there every single night who gives us a chance to win and to have a bullpen that matches up. That's always been our focus; you always focus on pitching.
"That said, the draft has proven you can get good pitching in any round. It's a huge investment when you're picking fifth in the country. Ideally, if you can get an impact position player, that works out best for the organization long-term."
The Royals got the player generally viewed as the draft's best overall athlete, but they must convince him to forgo a football career at Nebraska by signing him before the Aug. 15 deadline.
Starling admitted he faces a life-changing decision.
"The Royals drafted me," he said, "and I'm blessed, but there are a lot of options for the future — as far as signing or going up to Nebraska. I've still got a lot of stuff to figure out.
"Right now, I'm just trying to enjoy my moment with my family and just have fun tonight."
Moore said he is "very confident" at reaching a deal.
"Every player whom we select, especially early on, we expect to sign," he said. "Each negotiation has its own set of circumstances — especially in this case because he's a dual-sport athlete. But we're confident."
Starling's status as a multi-sport athlete provides the Royals with the flexibility to spread his signing bonus over five years. That could be a key issue because Starling, represented by Scott Boras, is likely to see a club-record bonus.
Some context: San Francisco catcher Buster Posey got $6.2 million as the fifth overall pick in 2008, one year after Baltimore shelled out $6 million for catcher Matt Wieters. Cleveland gave $2.65 million last year at No. 5 to Mississippi pitcher Drew Pomeranz.
The Royals' record for any draft pick is $6 million for first baseman Eric Hosmer as the third overall pick in 2008. Hosmer was also represented by Boras.
Should Starling and the Royals fail to reach agreement before the deadline, the club will receive a compensation pick next year immediately after the fifth overall selection.
The football reporting date at Nebraska is July 10, which provides Starling — and the Royals — with another deadline.
"I'm going to have to talk with my family," he said. "When it comes closer, we're going to figure that stuff out. I'm just trying to enjoy the moment tonight. This is a special time."