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Waiting in the Wings: Jorge Bonifacio

Craig uses a recent promotion to Double-A to talk about one of his favorite prospects


The Kansas City Royals' Jorge Bonifacio was Arismendy Alcantara for me, before I knew about Alcantara. Emilio's younger brother shares a last name with him, and not much else. Jorge stands 6'1 and is listed at 192 pounds though is likely heavier than that now. While he might have been in Emilio's shadow early on, Jorge emerged with a breakout season in 2012. Here's what I wrote about him in April of 2012 (told you I was on him early!):

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.

So, a year and change later, what has changed? For starters, Bonifacio broke a hamate bone in his hand which required a bit of a layoff and often affects power for several months after the player returns to health. Around that injury though, Bonifacio put up a .296/.368/.408 slash line as a 20-year old in the Hi-A Carolina League, earning him the promotion to Double-A that prompted this article. Bonifacio performed well at Hi-A, striking out a meager (for his type of profile) 17% of the time while walking a healthy 10%. The concerning part is the power dropoff for Bonifacio, and that's before the hamate bone injury. He's only hit two home runs on the season, in over 230 plate appearances. At the same time, he's only 20 years old and has faced a pitcher younger than him in 5% of his at-bats. He's still maturing physically and the power should come eventually.

I reached out to CJ Wittmann of PineTar Press who had the opportunity to scout Bonifacio numerous time while he was in Wilmington, and I'll use his reports (in quotes) to supplement the consensus scouting report.

While I have confidence that Bonifacio will fill out and add power to his frame, there is concern about his frame and the potential for bad weight.

[He's a] long way away from maturity; high maintenance body going forward; broad build plenty of room to add muscle and strength

Bonifacio shows a nice swing for someone with good raw power and could grade out as solid average. He creates loud, solid contact showing impressive barrel awareness and bat control. While the power hasn't shown up ingame in 2013, it's a potential plus tool with the ability to play up due to Bonifacio's hitability.

Advanced plate discipline and approach for 19 [ed note: Bonifacio turned 20 in June. CJ saw him prior to that]; very good awareness of strike zone; loose hands slightly closed stance; quick hands leading to short compact swing; Future 50 hit/65 power or possible 60 hit/50 power

I appreciate the variation that CJ added to the end of that because it shows the range of outcomes that are still possible for Bonifacio. He could be a plus hitter with moderate power or, if he chooses to sacrifice some of his natural hitting ability to add some loft to his swing, he could end up with a bit more on the power end. Ideally, we'd love to see him blend the two without sacrificing anything, but there are few and far between who can do that.

Defensively Bonifacio is a corner outfielder through and through. I've mentioned the potential for bad weight and a maintenance body, but it's worth noting that he doesn't move all that well either. He's a 40 runner (CJ had him at 4.25 home to first), but it plays fine in right field. He should be able to stick in right thanks to a potential plus arm.

Tracks ball well to Right CF gap and down line; strong arm; Future 60+ arm/60 glove

In the end Bonifacio has a shot to be a role 6 type player. That's a first division corner outfielder. He's unlikely to be a star, but I love him because of his continued success while being young for his level and what I view as a good probability to be a solid major leaguer. As a fantasy product I think Bonifacio can be similar to another RF prospect love of mine: Oswaldo Arcia. Neither is going to be a first round pick but for those of us in deep keeper and dynasty leagues, these are the type of players you build your team around. I'm going to let CJ get the final word here:

Bonifacio has shown he profiles as a prototypical RF; big power and strong arm. He is only 19 and far away from maturity making his offensive tools hard to profile. Bonifacio could become an average hitter with plus power or an above average hitter with average power. His defensive tools profile well for RF; with good range and above average arm and he is also a sneaky runner for his size. He could be an above average player and the big league club one day. I profile him to be a role 6; first division player

Source Material
Baseball America
Baseball Prospectus
Baseball Reference
PineTar Press/CJ Wittmann

*A special thanks again to CJ Wittmann who I couldn't recommend following more. Click on his name in the article to access his Twitter page. He's a bright kid with a good eye and he gets to a lot of games. I'll even forgive him for being a Duke fan.

You can follow me on Twitter at @cdgoldstein
You can find more of my work at The Dynasty Guru and MLB Draft Insider
You can listen to my podcast at BornonThirdPodcast