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Prospect Preview: Jorge Bonifacio

Jorge Bonifacio - OF - Royals - Signed for a mere $135,000 in 2009, Bonifacio might be more known as Emilio's brother than as a prospect in his own right at the moment. That will change by the end of this year, as he's off to a strong start and I see no reason why it shouldn't continue. At 19 years old, he's one of the younger players in Lo-A, but he does of have two years of pro experience already, spending 2010-11 in rookie ball for the Royals. You won't confuse Jorge with Emilio any time soon. He's not the multi-positional threat that his brother is, nor will he make his living wreaking havoc on the basepaths. Instead, he profiles as a middle of the order hitter, with solid speed and the potential for above-average power, though he has a lot of work to get there.

More on Bonifacio after the jump...

I don't that one could describe 2011 as a "breakout" season, but it definitely let people know Bonifacio was to be noticed. As an 18 year old in rookie ball, Bonifacio posted a .284/.333/.492 slash line, and while the line as a whole is more solid than spectacular, the power is something to take note of. With a .208 ISO, Bonifacio showed plus pop, but not much of an approach at the plate, striking out 58 times in 258 at-bats, while only posting 16 walks. He has drastically improved in that respect in 2012, though the small sample size warning applies, he has already walked 11 times in only 69 at-bats, while striking out 12 times. Bonifacio's strong start includes a .348/.444/.493 slash line, and a 937 OPS. For a 19-year old in the Lo-A Midwest League, that is quite a strong start, and he seems primed to make 2012 fully embody the "breakout" definition. Stats only tell so much of the story with a prospect this age, who has spent most of his career in rookie ball, so let's get to the scouting report.

While Bonifacio is an average runner, with a chance at being slightly more than that, do not confuse him with a top of the order hitter like his brother. Rather, standing 6'1 and tipping the scales at 204 lbs, Jorge is a middle of the order bat, who projects with above average power, and an average hit tool. At the moment, Bonifacio's swing doesn't involve his lower half much, instead his power comes mostly from his arms. This is both good and bad in a way, as his power is impressive for an arm-dependent swing, but it will not progress if he doesn't learn to involve his legs. This doesn't mean he can't or won't develop that power however, and I'm optimistic that he will, given his improvement in approach between last season and this one. Speaking of Bonifacio's approach, he entered 2012 with a free-swinging label hung on him, and so far has not resembled that player at all. Not only is he walking significantly more (6.2% in '11, 13.9% in '12), but he's also proven to be adept at identifying pitches, allowing him to make hard contact when he does swing. Bonifacio is far from a finished product, but if it all comes together, he profiles as an above-average corner outfielder, with enough arm for right field. As stated before, speed is not a major part of his game, though he has stolen three bases without being caught, though he was only 5/11 in 2011.

Bonifacio is raw, even for a Lo-A player, and given that, his production is exciting. If he can produce like this now, it is tantalizing to think of what he could do when he learns to incorporate his lower half and further refine his impressive tools. While Kansas City has graduated much of their top tier talent, they continue to mine the Latin market, and develop players such as Bonifacio. While it might be tempting to promote him if he continues to rake like this, I would expect Bonifacio to be a one level at a time player for Kansas City, making his projected arrival sometime in 2016. Certainly a long way off for fantasy owners, but he's a name to keep in mind if he stays the course, and someone to grab immediately if it all clicks.