The Situation: Jorge Soler still isn’t healthy, and Paulo Orlando has a .333 OPS. Yes, OPS. So the Royals will turn to one of their best position player prospects—and apple of our minor league editor’s eye—Jorge Bonifacio to try and help jumpstart an offense averaging just a tick over three runs a game.
The Background: Bonifacio was signed for $135,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2009, and has been kicking around as a prospect for so long that he first showed up on a Royals team list during the Kevin Goldstein era. A strong 2013 campaign in which he hit .298/.372/.429 between the Carolina and Texas leagues brought him to national attention and he snuck onto the back of the 2014 BP 101. Bonifacio’s bat stagnated in Double-A however, and he would spend all of 2014 and 2015 at that level. He did slowly start to get more of his plus raw power into games—a hamate injury cost him some of 2013—and at the end of 2016 got some post-hype chatter after he set a career high in home runs with 19 for the Storm Chasers. Although he’s been around forever in prospect terms, he is still only 23, and the power is major-league-ready. We are about to find out about the rest of the profile.
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Kevin caught two young power threats in a recent Midwest League matchup.
It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game. My mom used to say that a lot, and I used to think it was a load of crap. I still do in many ways, but it sure does apply to how I watch minor league baseball. I actually had to look up the final score (Beloit 9, Kane County 7) of my first minor league game of the season, because I really don't care who wins. I wasn't there to see a collective group of Snappers or Cougars, I was there to see players, specifically a pair of 18-year-old cleanup hitters: Jorge Bonifacio of Kane County and Miguel Sano of Beloit. Neither disappointed.
Obvious Good News: Getting O'Flaherty back from the DL provides Bobby Cox with a second lefty he's come to trust, now and into October-if the Braves get there-although it's worth noting that Dunn has been effective in a low-leverage role, if as wild and frightening as Kimbrel was in his previous stints. Speaking of Kimbrel, he's been exceptional since his return, striking out 12 of 16 batters faced, allowing a lone hit-and going walk-free.
Michael Street looks at the 1B battles in Boston and Atlanta, as well as the 3B situation in Florida.
Adrian Beltre will hold down Boston’s hot corner in 2010, replacing the aging, increasingly fragile Mike Lowell, whose offseason thumb surgery prevented an offseason trade and scared Boston enough to acquire Bill Hall. Heater’s Evan Brunell says Lowell should get as much playing time as his health allows to showcase him for a trade, and he could miss the start of the season after fouling a ball off his knee. Brunell points out that Lowell’s offense hasn’t suffered from his increasing immobility, and PECOTA agrees that he’ll have very little ratio dropoff from 2009.
Whatever PT Lowell gets won’t be at third, where the Red Sox have utilityman Hall, whose offense is barely acceptable at MIF and not at all at third base. Hall’s high K% explains his weak BA, and his SLG has plummeted from a .437 EqSLG in 2007 to last year’s .350 EqSLG. With plenty of position qualifications, Hall is an acceptable MIF option in a deep AL-only league, but not anywhere else.
Agreed to terms with LF-RConor Jackson on a one-year, $3.1 million contract, avoiding arbitration. [1/14]
Signed 1B-LAdam LaRoche to a one-year, $4.5 million contract, with a $7.5 millon mutual option for 2011 ($1.5 million club buyout); designated OF-REric Byrnes for assignment. [1/15]
The positions and the players who did the most to take the life out of their team's lineups.
In a playoff hunt, every edge matters, yet all too often, for reasons rooted in issues beyond a player's statistics, managers and GMs fail to make the moves that could help their teams, allowing subpar production to fester until it kills a club's post-season hopes. Back in 2007, I wrote a chapter for our pennant race book, It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over, in which I compiled a historical all-star squad of ignominy, identifying players at each position whose performances had dragged their teams down in tight races: the Replacement-Level Killers. It's a concept that's been revisited here at Baseball Prospectus, both by myself and my colleagues, usually in-season, with an eye towards what a team can do to solve such potentially fatal problems.