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.
Scouting Report: Bonifacio is listed at 6-foot-1, 195, but at this point is probably closer to 225. He was more of a line-drive hitter before he grew into his power, but now is your prototypical corner masher with swing-and-miss issues. How much mashing you can actually project here will determine how you feel about his eventual big-league role. He’s a right-handed hitter who is defensively-limited. The arm would be an asset in right field, his likely landing spot in Kauffman stadium, and his approach has improved across his minor league career. There’s plus raw power here, but it takes some length in the swing to get it. He’s not really a three-true-outcome types type though, as he projects for a merely above-average K-rate and only average power. You’d almost rather trade a few more Ks for a few more dingers.
Immediate Big League Future: Bonifacio is posed to takeover the everyday right field job in Kansas City, at least until Soler returns. Did you enjoy the Mark Teahen era? It’s not a perfect comp. Teahen was a better hitter and Bonifacio has more raw power—though it’s an open question of how much of it he will get to against major league arms. It’s just a tricky everyday profile. A 40 or 45 in a corner outfield spot is tough to carry. Bonifacio isn’t all bat mind you. He has a plus arm and is a good athlete for his size, but the big stick is going to have to show up if he wants to win an everyday role in the majors. If he doesn’t hit enough to be a regular, he should be a useful right-handed bench bat. —Jeffrey Paternostro
Fantasy Impact: The bloom seemed all but off the rose for Bonifacio following a pretty terrible two season stretch in Double-A, spanning 2014-2015. However he bounced back with a big 2016, putting up an .812 OPS and .290 TAv, while socking 19 homers in 558 Triple-A plate appearances. The tear continued into 2017, as the 23-year-old hit .314/.386/.608 with three dingers before his call-up to the big club.
This one might not be a long term thing, but for the immediate future, Bonifacio could provide some help in the batting average and power categories while keeping right field warm for a fellow Jorge. With Paulo Orlando turning back into a pumpkin, it would appear that playing time is there for the taking while Soler (who is no guarantee to stay healthy upon return) is on the shelf. If Bonifacio can maintain some of the patience he has found over the last couple seasons, he could be a sneaky good pick up, especially in deeper leagues. If not, he could still have enough pop to be a decent bench piece. —Mark Barry
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